cOUNTRY:                           AZERBAIJAN

DISH:                                     PARCHA-DOSHEME PLOV

CONTRIBUTED BY:            Sevinj Qurashli, Spouse to the Ambassador



3 cups long-grain white Basmati rice

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup peeled chestnuts

½ cup pitted dried apricots

1 cup dried sour plums (golden plums or prunes, pitted, or dried barberries)

½ cup pitted dates

½ cup golden raisins

1½ lb skinless, boneless chicken cut into 2-inch/5cm cubes

1 onion, peeled, cut in half, then thinly sliced

⅓ teaspoon ground saffron threads, dissolved in 3 tablespoons hot water

Salt, black pepper



  1. Place the rice on a fine-mesh strainer or colander and wash thoroughly under lukewarm water until the water runs clear. The rinsing process removes the starch so that the rice grains will remain separate after cooking.
  2. Soak the rice in a large container filled with lukewarm water mixed with 1 tablespoon of salt.
  3. In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter (30g) over medium heat. Add peeled chestnuts and stir-fry for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add dried apricots, plums and dates and stir-fry for another 3 minutes. Add raisins and stir-fry for 1 more minute. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large non-stick saucepan, combine 10 cups (2,5l) of water and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil. Drain the soaked rice and add it, in batches, to the pot. Boil for about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, to prevent rice grains from sticking to the bottom. Watch the rice closely so as not to overcook. It must be barely done – not fully cooked and not too soft.
  6. Drain the rice in a large fine-mesh strainer or colander. Set aside.
  7. Rinse the pot you boiled the rice in. Melt 1 tablespoon (15g) butter over medium heat. Arrange the meat in one layer at the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Follow with the layer of sliced onions. Simmer over medium heat uncovered, without stirring, for about 3 minutes.
  9. Place half of the rice in the pot over the onion. Arrange the dried fruits and chestnuts in one layer on top of the rice. Pile the rest of the rice on top of the fruits, mounding the rice in the shape of a pyramid. Pour 1 tablespoon melted butter over the rice.
  10. Place a clean dishtowel or 2 layers of paper towel over the pot and cover firmly with a lid to absorb the steam. Lift the corners of the towel over the lid.
  11. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Then open the lid and sprinkle the saffron water on top of the rice.
  12. Cover again and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  13. When ready to serve, gently take 1 spatula full of rice, fruits and meat at a time, placing it on the large serving platter.