When I lived in Azerbaijan, I got to try a lot of the traditional foods. I guested at a lot of people’s houses, but I have to say my host mother was the greatest cook of them all. When we left, Jesse and I made sure we got some of Bibi’s recipes. Two that I make every Novruz are her plov and her dovga. Plov is a rice pilaf with chicken, dried fruit and saffron. Dovga is a warm yogurt soup with greens. Yum.
While I have to admit that my plov doesn’t hold a candle to Bibi’s, I think it gets better every year. I think the key (that I have somewhat neglected in the past) is copious amounts of butter. It just doesn’t get that true Azeri flavor if you skimp on the butter. This year we used a lot, and it was much better!
While my plov doesn’t measure up, my dovga is awesome! Dovga is one of the things that volunteers either loved or hated. I hated it. Until I tried Bibi’s. Seriously, I could barely get dovga down most times, but when Bibi made it, I couldn’t get enough! I don’t know what it was, but I’m so glad she shared her recipe with me!
Jesse also made cutlet, which you can see in the following photo. This isn’t really a traditional Novruz food, but it’s an American pleaser since it’s just ground beef, lamb, herbs and onions pan fried in patties. Good stuff!
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 – 2 hours
- 4 Chicken pieces
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1 pound white rice
- chestnuts (I can never find this, and the canned ones are gross, so I leave chestnuts out)
- 1/2 cup yellow raisins
- Dried fruit: apricots, plums, etc
- Butter – a couple sticks
- Saffron 10-15 strands
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup yogurt
Prepare rice like normal. While rice is cooking, prepare the chicken in a frying pan. When rice is almost done, strain, put in a bowl, add 2 ounces butter and set aside. Mix eggs and yogurt in a bowl and spread on the bottom of a large pot. Sprinkle with about a cup of the rice. Pour chicken juices over the rice, arrange the chicken in a single layer. Put onion slices over the chicken and top with remaining rice. In a small bowl, dissolve the saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water. Pour this over the rice. Cut 1 or 2 sticks of butter over the rice. Seal the pot tightly with a towel, put pot over low heat for 1-2 hours. Add raisins and dried fruit 5-10 minutes before plov is done cooking.
Prep time/ cook time: 30 minutes
- 1 quart plain yogurt
- 2 cups water
- 3 Tbs flour
- 1/2 cup white rice
- 1 egg
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- 1/2 bunch spinach
- 1 small bunch dill
Cut up greens and set aside. In a small bowl, mix rice and egg. In a large bowl mix yogurt, water and flour. Add rice to yogurt mixture and put on stove. Bring to a bowl, stirring constantly. When rice is soft, add greens and keep stirring. When greens are soft serve in small bowls or glasses, with or without spoons.
Oh my gosh, my mouth is watering!