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Easy Plov for Easy People – Russian cuisine for idiots

1 Nov

Why do Manchester boys love plov so much?”

International correspondant – TIP

Fancy a plov? Do it yourself - speedy plov for adventurous foreigners




Every visit to an ex-soviet republic with a Brit inevitably concludes with them choosing Plov over anything else. Now the TIP team has only ever had plov twice – once was out of a fridge at the local Ashan, a very big disappointment indeed, chewy meat with a distinct odour – and once more, made by a Russian friend of the TIP family, who omitted to inform them that, indeed, they were eating the famous “plov” these Muscovite rookies had heard so much about.

Between to jobs this afternoon and with too much time on their hands – the TIP Gourmet team resisted procrastination’s eyelash fluttering and bought some in-season vegetables. Whilst wandering around the shop, they also decided to buy some plov spices – fully intent on looking up the recipe to make a plov to be remembered.

As per usual, the TIP staff’s inability to do an honest day’s work and a good job dissuaded them from recipe research… and the inevitable disappointment, upon opening the cupboards and fridge, to discover how many ingredients they didn’t have. Armed with unshakeable confidence in their gastronomical talents and an innate sense of self importance, our resourceful team of misfits ventured down the unknown road into culinary fireworks history.

Notes from the TIP Gourmet Kommanda’s diary:

This recipe is entirely IMPROVISED and engineered to make EASY AUTUMN PLOV.


1/2 glass (tumbler) of rice

2 teaspoons of plov spices

1/2 chicken stock cube


Optional but recommended:


– seasonal vegetables

500gr squash or pumpkin, peeled and chopped into dice size cubes (otherwise known as diced)

1 medium tomato, diced

1 red (or green or yellow) pepper, diced

1 small leek, cut lengthwise and chopped roughly


– meat (reduce portion of squash to 250g lest your frying pan overflow)

500gr  lamb, diced,

Bearing in mind, this plov is all about you so go ahead, replace the lamb by Russian hard cheese (it is nearly impossible to melt), or tofu for vegetarians, beef, chicken … potentially even shrimp, like ouzbek paella, fish appears to be the most unlikely ingredient/


How to:

1 -Prepare all ingredients and lump them into a frying pan (non stick, no oil) all together.

2 -Crumble the stock cube over the mixture.

3- Add the 2 heaped teaspoons of plov spices on top of that .

4- Pour on water (hot water make it cook faster): fill approximately 2/3 of the frying pan. Mix everything around until roughly homogeneous, this is mainly to get the spices and rice mixed in properly.

5- Cover with a suitable lid or large plate. Put on medium heat until boiling, move to lower heat and simmer for 30min, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick and so that the rice gets a chance to cook. When finished, there should be no obvious liquid in the pan.  Leave covered for another ten minutes OR eat as soon as the right temperature.


Recommended toppings for autumn English/Russian comfort food:

1 big dollop of smetana

1 tsp of adjika for those who like it spicy

Cover in grated cheese

Finely chopped fresh parsley

Dill – of course, didn’t you know this yet, dill goes with everything.




Here is a link to a real Plov recipe, should you dare to compare one day:



Are you SAD? Have a bowl of borsch!

24 Oct

“Boozy reds are in fashion”

It’s barely mid October and the temperatures are already floundering around zero like an duck in an oil spill. Summer has truly left us, the Indian Summer decided to vacation in the UK this year so it’s time to accept the inevitable:

it’s only going to get colder now

As many of you know and like to imagine, the Moscow autumn is a cruel mistress, seducing us with her blue skies whilst spurning us with her biting winds. It’s time to salvage what courage we have left and march forward courageously into the coffin of winter. What better way to do it than with a belly full of borsch?

All you need for a healthy winter diet

1- Can I make borsch? 

“even the most special of  untalented cooks can master a borsch”

YES, borsch is simple. The only thing you need apart from ingredients, is a good recipe and patience. Maybe even a food processor – if you are lucky. Making borsch is about making love to your vegetables, treating them with care and respect, showing them that the sacrifice is worth the finished product! If a carrot knew it could become so delicious and wholesome, it would grow ready-grated in a plastic tub.

2- Why would I make borsch when I can buy a bowl of it for 100rub?

There are many reasons to spend some quality time with your saucepan and your grater. First of all, the price of that bowl of borsch you order is about 5times what it is worth made from scratch.

Restaurant borsch also tends to be all water with some measly squares of beef battling it out with a smattering of beetroot for ownership of the bottom of the bowl. If you make it yourself, it will contain a hearty amount vegetables (if you like it that way).

Not to mention that with the sun disappearing behind the grey wall of clouds for the next six months, it doesn’t hurt to have some good old unadultered vitamins and minerals directly from the source. Especially for those who are afraid of bulking up over the coming months due to excessive pelmeni and potato diet.

Finally, it is relaxing. After a week spent in the metro, fighting your way through bewildered crowds of confused commuters, you can get away from it all, without leaving the house. Put on your favourite tv series, cd, dvd, sit down, grate and feel the stress drain away whilst your mind switches off.

3- What do I need?

Easy: 1 grater medium holes, 1 knife for chopping/peeling vegetables, 1 large saucepan, 1 frying pan and 1 spatula.

4- Food? Check

Ingredients. Every recipe is different, below you will find the base recipe used by the TIP Editor. It helps when wandering around Ashan trying to remember all the ingredients. We recommend applying the recipe the first time and branching out after that. It is our personal belief here at the TIP that if you have done it once, you can do it again without following the recipe.

0,5 kg {approx 1 pound} of veal or beef; better on the bone or ribs (without bone is also possible)

2 middle-sized potatoes {small chop} {Notes are below on chop, dice and mince.}

1/2 of a cabbage head (about 15 cm in diameter) {2.54 cm equals 1 inch so the cabbage head would be approx 6 inches in diameter} {chopped}

1 big beet root (say 8-10 cm in diameter) {approx 4 inches in diameter which would be a very large beet here in the US. If necessary approximate the amount with smaller beets. Grated}

1 big onion {diced}

1 big or two smaller carrots {diced}

1 tomato {chopped}

2 small cloves of garlic {minced}

greenery (parsley or/and dill) {according to taste – dill as a garnish on the ladled soup is very standard}

1 tea spoon of soup aromatizer, Vegeta or other

1 table spoon of salt

5- So I have carried this b*******ing bag of vegetables all the way up the hill. What now?
This is the 2nd recipe found by the TIP Borsch Party Organising Committee. It tasted like water and looked, well, red, as usual. Here is the link to the page, you will probably find it easier to read. However, the TIP BPOC has listed some recommendations below to make your first borsch a success!

Time to prepare: 1 hr 45 min and then half of the day under cover before put to the fridge.



First the meat broth should be prepared. Put 0.5 kg of meat into the cold water and boil (water level – 3/4 of the pot’s height) at strong fire first.

The dirty foam which will appear on the surface should be taken away thoroughly by skimmer (perforated spoon). If you haven’t a skimmer you may use normal spoon but it is less convenient. The TIP says “Leave it boil until the foam has formed a thick head (2-3cm) thick, it is easier to remove with a spoon”. After the dirty foam is stopped to appear on the surface the fire should be done low.

The water level should be maintained at 3/4 of the pot. Pour fresh water for that if the level is down because of vapourising.

It takes one hour until the broth is ready. After that the meat should be taken out of the pot, removed from the bone (ribs), cut finely and then put back to the pot. The level of water is 3/4 as usual. The TIP says ” cut the meat before cooking it because they can never be bothered to find any on the bone and the taste is still good.”


Then (in one hour since beginning and 45 min before the end) you should add 2 middle sized potatoes cut finely, and so a half of the cabbage head cut finely (the less {smaller} are the pieces the better is the taste) and 1 big beet root grated on the grate. It is better to use grater’s side with bigger holes.

5 min preparation: the PASSIROVKA  


It is cut finely {diced or small chop} 1 big or two smaller carrots, 1 cut onion, 1 tomato all stewed in the oil on a pan. The fire should be small, a cook has to shuffle content continuously to avoid burning or sticking till the colour of Passirovka will become golden-brown. It takes about 5 minutes. Then Passirovka should be also added to the pot. 


A table spoon (bigger one) of salt should be added 10-20 min till the end, 1 hour and 25-45 min since beginning of the cooking. At the end (2-5 minutes till finishing) add cut greenery and two cloves of garlic cut as small as you can. {minced}

You will inevitably have too much of nearly every ingredient that needs to be grated. So grate everything and then freeze, so the next time, you just have to pull it out of the freezer and boil!
The amount of water is never really clearly indicated in this recipe, go for about a 4/5litre saucepan and fill it up 3/4 full. For plenty of vegetables, over shoot this recipe by a bit more cabbage, potato and or beetroot.
Borsch is a recipe best served the next day. My favourite day is post cooking Day 2 and Day 3. Day 4 it’s still edible, Day 5 it will probably be too acidic to be enjoed. 
The best thing about borsch is that you can freeze it and warm it up when you feel like it. The TIP fridge has a large stock of borsch, just ready for those late night deadlines and tired workers.
(this website has a variety of borsch recipes despite its strange name):
And приятно аппетита of course!