Plov, a one-pot, long-simmered rice pilaf, is the national dish of Uzbekistan. The dish is deeply woven into the fabric of the Central Asian country that was formerly part of Russia. Near the back of Tashkent Produce, a small market named for the capital city, you'll find a room off to the side that holds a kitchen and a takeout counter. Fronting the kitchen are display cases filled with pastries, cooked fish and meat dishes, along with a counter of metal tubs filled with colorful salads. The sparse labeling is in Cyrillic script, but getting plov could not be simpler. Next to the counter are Styrofoam boxes marked “plov,” stacked and ready to go. With no seating, it's takeout only — grab a Russian beverage of your choice, perhaps the soda with Tolstoy's Pinocchio-inspired Buratino on the label, and head to a nearby park, or even your car, to dig in. Opening the container, the redolence of garlic, spices and seasonings hit you before you get to the rice, beef and vegetables — sometimes chickpeas, sometimes carrots, or both — in a rich, stewlike pilaf. It's truly one of the best rice dishes in L.A.
Credit: Jim Thurman