POLOV – Xinjiang Style Rice Pilaf

Today we are making 羊肉手抓饭,Xin Jiang style mutton Polov, or you might call it plov. It is a national dish that is popular in many countries in central Asia, including the West of china – Xin Jiang. It was mentioned in one of The Food Ranger’s show while he is traveling in Xinjiang. I am excited to show you my take on this dish. I put a lot of my own though and tips in it. It came out incredibly delicious. So let’s get started.

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4 from 5 votes

Xinjiang Polov Recipe





  • Wash 2 cups of rice (Any type of long-grain white rice will work.) several times until the water is clear. Soak the rice with clean water for 1 hour.
  • Collect 1-2 ounces of lamb fat from the meat. Diced the fat into 1/4 inch cubes. If you don’t have it, you can use a little more cooking oil instead.
  • Cut 1 piece of carrot into 1/4 inch thick strips. Slice 1 big red onion.
  • Besides that, you will also need a whole bulb of garlic. I am just cleaning up these messy roots. Rip off the dried outer layer until you can see the garlic cloves. Don’t break them apart. Just leave it whole like that.
  • Add 1/4 cup of oil to the wok along with the lamb fat. Once it starts sizzling. Throw in the onions. Toss it around over medium heat. When the onion is soft and translucent, add in the garlic bulb. Turn the heat to low. Cameralize the onion. When the onion gets to a deep brown color, take them out.
  • Leave the grease in the wok. Heat it until it is smoking. Add the lamb meat. Cook it over medium heat and try to get some brown color. Once the meat is nicely charred, add the onion back along with 4 cups of water. Bring it to a boil. Add some salt to taste. I used 1.5 tbsp.
  • Turn the heat to low. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Or until it gets to the tenderness that you like. You just try a piece. It can be a little less tender than your preference because we will cook it furthermore.
  • Add the carrots. Drain the rice with a sieve. Discard the water. Add the rice to the middle of the wok. Do not stir it because you don’t want the rice to sink to the bottom or else it will get burn easily. You just gently spread it out and slightly pack it tight. Put the garlic bulb in the middle of the rice. Use chopsticks to poke some holes so the steam can circulate better. Turn the heat to low. Cover it and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  • 10 minutes later, the rice absorbed most of the moisture. But it is not evenly cooked yet. The top layer of rice still needs a little more time, so you have to flip it back down and pack it tight. Don’t forget to poke more holes. Cover that, keep cooking it on low heat for another 6 minutes. And the rice should be done.
  • Add a tbsp of cumin powder, 2 ounces of raisins, and a drizzle of dark soy sauce. Mix everything. This recipe is enough to feed 6-7 people.
  • This dish is full of rice and meat, very heavy so I also made a quick salad to balance it. In a salad bowl, mix some onion slices, bell pepper slices, and tomato slices. Season it with some salt, a tbsp of sugar, a tbsp of white vinegar, 1 tsp of cumin powder, and black pepper to taste. Mix it well. Serve next to the polov. Enjoy.


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