Grechka Plov is a pilaf dish that uses buckwheat in place of traditional rice. Grechka is the Russian word for buckwheat. It is a soft and fluffy grain that actually has no association with cereal or wheat at all, actually, it is a gluten-free flowering plant in the knotweed family cultivated for its grain-like seeds. It is related to the Rubarb plant and is very common in Asia.
Health Benefits of Buckwheat
Buckwheat is gluten-free and rich in fibre. Fibre allows for regular bowel movements and reduces the potential for experiencing symptoms such as constipation. A diet high in fibre is sure to protect your digestive health.
Buckwheat can also play a valuable role in controlling blood sugar levels. The food is rich in nutrients such as proteins, fibres, and flavonoids. These nutrients found in buckwheat have reportedly helped people with type 2 diabetes manage the condition by improving insulin resistance.
What is Plov?
Traditional Palov is Uzbekistan’s signature dish also known as plov, osh or pilaf. It’s a main course typically made with rice, meat, thin slices of carrots and onions. It is usually cooked in a special heavy metal pot called a Kazan over an open fire; additional ingredients such as chickpeas & raisins may be added in different variations of Osh.
Palov is always prepared for guests and on special occasions such as weddings. These days though for Uzbeks who are living in the west it can be difficult to cook it over an open fire let alone have the facilities to cater for 100 guests at a wedding 😉
In Uzbekistan there is a special osh master chef, who cooks this national dish over an open flame properly, sometimes serving up to 1,000 people from a single big pot and the taste is apparently to die for!
I say apparently because I have yet to taste it that way, so please pray for me to finally get to enjoy this unique experience Insha Allah.
The carrots in this Grechka Plov dish have to be sliced long and thin. Unfortunately, I found most graters tend to slice too thin and small.
I managed to find a thicker one that works better. It is called a Korean Carrot Salad Grater. There are other similar options on Amazon that are worth checking out. However, if you do decide to use an average grater, use the biggest size and then do not add your carrots until after you have added the buckwheat, that way they will not dissolve and melt too much.
How to Serve Buckwheat
Traditionally, Buckwheat is usually served as a side dish and also eaten simply by itself. Just boiled in some water and salt and topped with a generous carving of butter.
Buckwheat can also be used as a gluten-free, protein-rich alternative to rice, so, it is common to have it stir-fried in with onions, mushrooms and other vegetables.
In Uzbekistan, this fluffy buckwheat plov is served with all the beef cut or sliced into little bite-sized pieces and placed on top of a bed of pilaf. You can garnish it with the cooked garlic placed on top. Natural yoghurt or soured cream is served on the side with other pilaf salads comprising of freshly sliced pink tomatoes, onions, radish, cucumber and fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, basil and mint.
Grechka Plov – Uzbek Beef Pilaf with Buckwheat
- Korean Carrot Salad Grater
- 100 g vegetable or sunflower oil
- 300 g beef cut in cubes
- 150 g onion sliced
- 200 g carrots peeled and either thickly grated or cut into very thin strips
- 300 gr buckwheat grains
- 2 tsp salt (to taste)
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp crushed cumin seeds
- 1 whole head of garlic to add as it is without breaking or peeling.
- First, heat the oil and begin to fry the meat on high heat until it is dark brown. Making sure that the meat is completely dark brown is very important as it will give an extraordinary flavour to the dish.
- Then add the onions and shredded or finely sliced carrots, throw in the spices and the whole garlic head followed by 200 ml of water then simmer on low heat.
- The meat should cook for about 40 min. In the meantime, wash the buckwheat really well by rinsing it a few times with cold water.
- Now add the buckwheat on top of the fried meat and vegetables. At this point, you add just enough boiled water to cover the buckwheat. (to check the right amount of water, run a spoon inside of the pot, if it runs freely, then that is enough.) Buckwheat becomes soft very quickly and we want to make sure it isn't overdone.
- Bring to a boil on high heat, and double-check the salt before covering the pot and lowering the heat again.
- Cook until all the water evaporates and the buckwheat is soft.
- If you feel the buckwheat is ready but see some water remaining, then take off the lid, and cook over high heat until it evaporates. Then serve as desired.