12 March 2007

Qazan?


Does anyone know where I can buy a qazan in the US?

5 comments:

Johnna Cornett said...

Oh, I want one too!

Did you bring one back with you, but now you want another?

Amira said...

No, I didn't bring one back. They are too heavy to fly home with. A friend of ours is visiting from Kyrgyzstan and brought rice with her and we wanted to find a qazan to make plov. Someone in the US has to sell them.

cew-smoke said...

No fair, you have to be nice to the uneducated boobs out here in cyberspace.

What on earth is a Qazan and what makes it different from any other pot? Enighten us who are endlessly searching for the next kitchen item that we simply cannot live without.

Also, what is plov? Is it tasty?

Amira said...

A qazan is a heavy, round-bottomed pot used in Central Asia. It doesn't have a handle. Because it's heavy and round, you need to cook over a fire with it, and cooking over a fire in a heavy pot always produces something delicious.

Plov is pilaf, Central Asian style. It tastes best from a qazan, but you can make plov in something mundane like a teflon-coated skillet. And plov is delicious. There are lots of variations on it. This link has several recipes for plov, especially at the bottom (with pictures of cooking plov in a qazan over a fire).

http://amiralace.blogspot.com/search/label/Central%20Asia-%20Recipes

A qazan isn't really necessary, and the difference is probably not that noticeable, but still, it would be fun to have a qazan.

Anonymous said...

A few comments are due here, folks.

1. A qazan does have a handle, in many cases - a semicurcular handle that enables you to hang it over a log fire when cooking outdoors (which is what a qazan is for. I tried using one to cook on a gas range. It just isn't right.) Of course you don't need the handle, so even if yours has one you can safely remove it. :)

I had to hunt for my qazan, too - but it's another story for another posting.

I believe a qazan IS essential for a good plov: it takes an hour on a very strong fire for the ingredients to cook properly together (see below). A plain cooking pot just cannot endure it. Believe me: I have just paid over a hundred bucks for a powerful catering-style outdoor burner and an extra canister of liquiefied gas to make sure I cook right.

A qazan. Onlya qazan. No pots.

2. There are as many plov/pilaf recipes as there are people who venture cooking it. I have the one I prefer, as well. Some recipes I stumble upon on the web sound better than others - but I am sure it's a matter of taste.

However, once you see recipes that suggest frying the meat, then setting it aside and frying the onions - keep in mind that this is the indoor-cooking workaround. With the right kind of qazan and the burner of sufficient (near-industrial) strength, you can - and should - cook everything together, just sticking to the right order:

meat till well-browned;

then onions;

then carrots.

When the meat is quarter-done, add salt, spices and enough hot water to cover the meat. Bring to boil, cut the flame to low and boil some to bring the meat to half-done.

Spread the well-washed and -drained rice on top, gently add boiling water so as to cover the rice with 1-2 cm, turn the flame high and keep going till there is no surplus water over the rice (2-3 minutes).

Now decrease the heat to the possible minimum, cover the qazan (and don't you even try to cook plov if your qazan has no lid!), and leave it there until the rice is totally tender but not any further than that. To ensure it is homogeneously cooked, you can stir or flip the rice once or twice during this time, but don't go deeper that the bottom of the rice layer!

Finally, you taste the rice and find it done.

Now - and only now! - can you mix the rice with the meat/veg mix at the bottom. Serve immediately, with a salad of sliced ripe tomatoes and onions - nothing else but that!

Drinks: traditionally arak (aniseed vodka; ouzo) - but I guess any strong drink will do - feel free to improvize!

Leave a reply if it turned out well. Mine did not for the first 3 or 4 times - it takes some practice. Don't get discouraged if you don't succeed for the first time, and keep trying - it's worth it.