I’m often enamored with foods from other cultures. I love to experiment with different flavors and spices from different regions, as well as mix and match one area’s aromatic heritage with another’s.
The English term pilaf is borrowed directly from the Turkish pilav, which in turn comes from Persian polow (پلو), Hindi pulāo, from Sanskrit pulāka (meaning “a ball of rice”), which in turn, is probably of Dravidian origin. The English spelling is influenced by the Modern Greek pilafi (πιλάφι), which comes from the Turkish pilav.
Lavash (Armenian: լավաշ; Azerbaijani and Turkish: lavaş; Kurdish: nanê loş; Persian: لواش; Georgian: ლავაში), sometimes referred to as Armenian lavash,[note 1] is a soft, thin unleavened flatbread made in a tandoor (called tonir in Armenian) and eaten all over the Caucasus, Western Asia and the areas surrounding the Caspian Sea. Lavash is the most widespread type of bread in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran.
This time I tackled the Balkans.
Pilaf and Lavash are typical of many areas of the world, but often found in the Balkan peninsula.
Spattered with saffron-infused water to create patches of fragrant yellow rice, this pilaf is wrapped in butter-saturated lavash to create a crispy, golden-brown casing that’s cracker thin.
Thus, it’s crispy, it’s aromatic, it’s sweet, it’s savory, and it’s downright perfect.
Chicken Pilaf Lavash – Khan Plov
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
freshly ground black pepper
3⁄4 cup slivered almonds
1⁄2 cup raw pistachios, shelled
1 generous pinch saffron (about 10–15 strands)
2 cups Basmati rice
2 sticks butter, melted
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cups (1 lb.) mixed dried fruit, such as golden raisins, apricots, pitted prunes, and sour cherries, finely chopped
1 tsp. Nigella seeds (black caraway)
1 lb. lavash, cut or torn into pieces
Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. In a medium pot of simmering water, carefully add the chicken and poach until slightly undercooked, about 8 minutes. Remove using tongs and let rest until cool enough to handle. Chop or tear or cut into small pieces.
Meanwhile, heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the pistachios and almonds and cook, tossing the pan or stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
Combine the saffron and 3⁄4 cup hot water in a small bowl or pot. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season with 2 tsp. kosher salt and add the rice. Cook until al dente, about 15 minutes; drain. Season the rice with more salt to taste and fluff with two forks.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, add 2 Tbs. of the melted butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, 1–2 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken and 1⁄4 cup of the saffron water and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 minutes more.
Combine the chicken mixture with the rice. Stir in the remaining saffron water, the dried fruit and toasted nuts, candied lemon and orange peel, and black caraway seeds. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the bottom and sides of a 12-inch Dutch oven or ovenproof pot generously with melted butter.
Working one piece at a time, lay the lavash across a baking sheet, then brush one side very generously with melted butter. Drape the lavash into the prepared pot with the buttered side facing the pot and one end of the lavash touching the center of the pot (the rest should reach up the sides with 2–3 inches of overhang around the outside rim). Brush the exposed side of the lavash generously with melted butter. Repeat with more lavash, overlapping the pieces slightly, until the whole pot is covered and all the lavash is buttered on both sides.
Add the rice mixture to the center of the lavash, then cover the rice with the overhang, trimming any extra. Place a final piece of butter-coated lavash over the top if any rice shows through. Cover the pot and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is crispy and golden, about 10 minutes more.
Remove the pot. Place a large serving plate over the opening and carefully but quickly invert the pot to remove the lavash-covered pilaf. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut off the top and serve.
**If you really want to get crazy and add some depth, layer sharp cheddar cheese atop the lavash before baking.
Adapted from recipe at Saveur
**I made this with my BESTIE. She posted it on her blog too! Check out her version of Khan Plov