Herbed Rice and Beef
Baksh, also spelled Bachash, is a favorite dish of the Bukharian Jewish community - often served at parties. It consists of short-grain rice cooked with cilantro and/or other herbs and diced meat. Lamb is most traditional, but you can instead use beef, chicken or whatever meat you want, alone or in combination.
There are many ways to cook this dish - you can saute the meats, boil the rice and mix them, or bake everything together -, but one of the most traditional ones consists of mixing all the ingredients, placing them in a cotton bag and boiling the whole thing. I decided in that option as it was a new cooking method for me. I created my own cotton bag by double layering cheesecloth and tying it closed with kitchen string.
While the cooking method worked, I can't say I was thrilled with the results. First of all, while I decreased the amount of rice the original recipe called for and increased the amount of meat, the ratio of rice to meat was still too high. Now, I imagine that this is on purpose and the meat is used to flavor the rice more than anything, but I didn't feel it did so well enough. Perhaps it was my fault as I excluded all the big chunks of fat - if you make it, do keep them in.
I was doubtful that any rice would stand up to 3 hours of boiling and, indeed, the rice acquired the consistency of porridge/congee after such long cooking. Perhaps that's because I didn't wash it well enough, so it still had a fair amount of starch, or perhaps the Arborio rice I used isn't as sturdy as Uzbek short grain rice. Or perhaps it's meant to have that consistency. In any case, it didn't thrill me.
In all, I wouldn't make this again.
- 2 1/2 cups Uzbek short grain rice or Arborio rice
- 1 1/2 lbs beef chuck, diced
- 2 bunches green onions, chopped
- 2 bunches cilantro, stems included, chopped
- 1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
- 3 tsp salt, divided
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1cup olive oil, divided
Rinse rice until clear using your preferred method. Drain well.
Transfer rice to a large bowl. Add the diced beef, green onions, cilantro, parsley, 2 tsp salt and black pepper. Mix until combined. Add 1/2 cup olive oil and mix well.
Transfer the mixture to a cotton bag or cheese cloth. Tie to close. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the remaining teaspoon of salt. Carefully place the bag with the rice/meat mixture in the boiling water. Boil over medium-low heat for 3 hours, turning the bag around every hour.
Remove from the bag, fluff the rice and serve.
Adapted from Diana Khaimov's recipe at Culinary Backstreets.
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