Last week I wrote about laghman and ganfan, and suddenly I had the irresistible urge to go out and get some boso laghman for lunch. Thankfully, after posting my blog on Monday, the opportunity to go out for lunch presented itself, and I went out and had a big plate of gyuru laghman, which was the closest thing I could get at the restaurant we attended. It was wonderful.
Today I am hopeful that after posting this blog I can – once again overwhelmed by (at this point merely anticipated) cravings – go out for lunch and enjoy a big plate of plov. Like the dishes I discussed last week, plov is not really a Kyrgyz dish, but is enjoyed across Kyrgyzstan. The way it is prepared in Kyrgyzstan originated in the Ferghana valley among Uzbeks, though variations are available across a wide swath of Asia and the southern hemisphere. Basically, plov is rice prepared with carrots, garlic, maybe a couple spices (depending on the chef), and meat, which is usually mutton.
In Kyrgyzstan, the best plov is made according to the Uzbek tradition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plov#Cuisine this Wikipedia page contains a great little photo of Uzbek plov being cooked, and a description of how it is prepared), and many people are willing to pay a higher price for a special reddish rice from the Uzgen region of Kyrgyzstan. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzgen ) Uzgen is a medium-sized town atop a hill at the far eastern edge of the Ferghana valley with a grand view of the Tien Shan to the east and the Ferghana valley to the west.
The photo here shows the main bazaar in Uzgen (with “Uzgen” written on the left side and “bazaar” almost spelled out on the right – part of the sign is broken). The first time I drove through Uzgen, I was surprised to see the typical pastureland and crops that are omnipresent in Kyrgyzstan replaced with rice patties. But of course, that makes sense for a town that has a type of rice named after it!