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Azerbaijani-style Pilaf:

What's the big idea?

Many consider Pilaf - or Plov - to be Azerbaijan's national dish. There are of course many recipes and variations, some very sweet, where the rice is cooked in milk, and others less so, such as this one. Saffron-infused rice is topped with slow-cooked lamb with fruit and nuts - the perfect centre-piece for an Azerbaijani dinner party!

Shopping List

Here's the list of what you need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 500g lamb, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 100g dried apricots
  • 75g dried chestnuts *
  • 250g long-grain or basmati rice
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 300ml beef stock
  • Flat-leaf parsley, to serve
* Dried Chestnuts can be bought online, or from Asian grocers and delis.

What To Do

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a high heat
  • Add the lamb and cook for 4 minutes or until browned on all sides
  • Transfer the meat to a bowl. Add the garlic, carrots and onions to the pan and cook for 6 minutes or until golden
  • Stir in the cumin, apricots, chestnuts and 400ml water, and return the lamb to the pan
  • Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 1 hour or until the lamb is tender - add more water if necessary
  • Meanwhile, soak the rice in 1 litre of salted water for 30 minutes. Drain, stir in the saffron and transfer to a saucepan
  • Add the stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes or until the rice is tender - add extra water if needed
  • Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Drain off any remaing stock, and leave to stand for a further 5 minutes
  • Spoon the rice onto a platter and serve topped with the lamb stew. Sprinkle with chopped parsley

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