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Main Diplomacy — Mongolia in Odessa cuisine: Plov with Black Sea mussels

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Mongolia in Odessa cuisine: Plov with Black Sea mussels

31 May, 2020
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Mongolia in Odessa cuisine: Plov with Black Sea mussels

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Food Diplomacy: Mongolian tradition in Odessa's cuisine


Plov is an Odessite version of the popular rice pilaf with seafood. Mussels are for the port city of Odessa a landmark product. Plov is a complex compound dish, consisting of a rice portion (the main component of the dish), onion-carrot-garlic mix (fried with butter and pepper) and seafood, especially large mussels.

According to a legend, mussels are one of the first seafood that people began to eat. There is evidence that the first recipes for preparing them appeared among the ancient Indians 12 thousand years ago.

Plov-pilaf is probaly a Central Asian dish. Its name has Persian roots (polov), or Hindi (pilaf), and there is even an older version in Sanskrit. All of them meaning “boiled rice”.

One thousand years ago approx., nomadic tribes from the Ukrainian Steppe settled where Odessa now lies. These tribes roamed the Steppe freely, never staying in one place long. In the 13th century, the Mongolian Golden Horde conquered the Kievan-Rus, a loose confederation of East Slavic and Scandinavian people, the base for following Ukrainian and Russian kingdoms. These conquerors are believed to have brought plov (rice cooked in seasoned broth). Though, the classic Mongolian plov is prepared with lamb or horse meat, over the years Odessa has put its own spin on the dish, soaking the rice with mussels to give it a rich, briny flavour.

Restaurants: Kotelok, Kumanets, Prichal #1.

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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