Unless you count the crusty caramelized part, which adheres to the bottom of cooking vessel and is prized by Puerto Ricans and Koreans alike, plain white rice holds little appeal. Chinese takeout fried rice is much tastier. It’s been years—OK maybe six months—since I’ve eaten it. That’s because in Queens there so many other rice dishes from all over the world from biryani to bibimbap. Today, a look at two less common ones.
Uzbek style plov, a Central Asian style pilaf shot through with sweet carrots and bits of beef shank is available at many restaurants in my neighborhood, Rego Park. My favorite places to eat it aren’t the glitzy kebab houses, which can sometimes be offputting. A much homier experience, can be had by grabbing a seat at the nabe’s two tandoori bakeries. Lately I have been enjoying the plof ($7), as they spell it at Bella Roza. At this pizzeria turned samsa and Uzbek bread bakery, fat grains of rice are slicked with oil and riddled with whole spices, notably black peppercorns. The ample bowl makes for a fine winter’s lunch.
Not a carnivore? The tamarind rice ($2)—a recent discovery for me—at the Temple Canteen in Flushing’s Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam is lovely. The yellow grains are enriched with peanuts and flavored with tamarind paste, coconut, and a market’s worth of Indian spices, including curry leaves, mustard seeds, and fenugreek. It is a favorite of the temple’s central deity, Ganesh.
Do you have a favorite one-pot rice dish? Let me know in the comments.
Bella Roza, 63-52 Booth St., Rego Park, 718-275-0777
Ganesh Temple Canteen, 45-57 Bowne St., Flushing, 718-460-8484