Uzbek Lagman Recipe
This is the dish, if one were stuck on a desert island, that my husband and I might just possibly want to have because it’s just so flavorful and satisfying. And did I mention it tastes delicious? This is also the dish with which you can wow even your most gourmet French cooking chef friend!
Meat and vegetable stew over noodles is the basic premise. (Paleo and Gluten Free people, please keep reading!) But add all the spices and fresh herbs and you’ve got yourself a sensational dish!
I first had this dish as a soup version at the dark little Otrar hotel in Almaty, Kazakhstan in early 1994, and I was deeply impressed (or else just startving!) My most recent encounters with the dish have been in Moscow at the chain of restaurants that does it best: Chaixona No. 1 – pronounced “Chigh-HON-a NO-mer a-DEEN.” It’s a mouthful, and so is the dish!)
To prepare this dish, you must be ready to put in a bit of chopping time as well as have a cupboard full of spices you may not have heard of or used yet. Recruit some sous-chefs in the house, if possible, or else put on a good podcast. I recommend Underground Wellness podcasts if you are into learning about health and nutrition. Sometimes I get my elder daughter to peel garlic cloves, because that alone seems to take half of my prep time. In fact, I have her peel an entire bulb and I save the unused for future meals in an hermetically sealed glass jar! They keep for many days, no harm done, only time saved and then you will be more likely to cook something with healthful garlic!
Here are the ingredients:
1 kg lamb (mutton, veal or beef can also be used)
2 big fat carrots
5-7 cloves garlic minced
Nigella and/or kala jeera
2 whote star anise pieces
Salt to taste 2 bay leaves
1 can of peeled tomatoes chooped
Tablespoon of ginger
2 big yellow bell peppers
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 ½ tsp whole cumin seed
3 dashes of turmeric for good measure
Black pepperDash of nutmeg
Half a cup to 4-5 cups water, depending on how soupy you want it)
Fresh chopped cilantro on top
Fleur de sel on top
Optional: Omelette or Scrambled Egg (1 per person), sliced
Other things you can add:celery, radish, chives, leek, scallions, dried hot red chili pepper, chinese cabbade, zucchini, eggplant, parsley, cilantro, spice: black cumin “zeera”
dried crushed red pepper, dash of coriander, bits of celery
Chop everything into bite size pieces, except garlic which can be minced
Add fat in pan (butter, ghee, coconut oil, duck fat, etc. – no vegetable oils, please! These plastic resembling oils are verboten, banish them from your kitchen!)
Add the meat to sear it until light brown
Cover to keep juices in
Add garlic, onion, ginger then carrot, pepper
Cover and let simmer until vegetables are cooked to your desired taste (10-45 mins), during which time you can also add the water if you’d like it to be brothier. I add a few tablespoons of water to have a little sauce. I also like to keep my veggies more “cru” – uncooked, so I turn off the stove once the meat is cooked through and well mixed with the veggies, as opposed to letting the vegetable cook until they are limp.
While the meat has been cooking I will be preparing the noodles. If you are Gluten Free, which I am “trying” to adjust to in my own nutritional approach, then you can also eat this dish with rice of all kinds if you don’t/can’t eat noodles. To make this more Paleo, just take out the grain side dish entirely. Paleo experts probably have many suggestions as to replacements for the noodles other than rice, such as possibly spaghetti squash, or other things, depending on the season.
The crowining topping, if you have the time and patience after all that chopping and mixing, is to scramble eggs or make a plain omelette, one egg per person, and slice into thin slices to garnish the top along with piles of cut parsley and/or cilantro! (You can easily skip the egg if you are eating an egg-free diet!)