Azerbaijan cuisine has a wide variety of plov or rice pilaf dishes. There are over 40 different types. They also use fresh vegetables and herbs that vary seasonally as accompaniments to a meal. I want to make the standard plov and found a recipe for BBQ vegetables salad called Soyug Salat. This all sounds healthy and as I am getting ready for surgery, more veggies sounds like a good idea. To prepare for surgery, I was recommended during the lymphedema learning session, to go to a physical therapist to get measured. They recommend that they measure my range of motion, strength, and arm size. This is so that they can easily determine if I have lymphedema and progress after my recovery. As I have never had physical therapy I’m not sure where to find one so I just go with the woman who did the lymphedema class.
At the appointment she has me lay down and take a ruler and marks a few spots on my arm and then takes a measurement of the circumference of each point. She then measures my strength, by testing me with resistance and determines that I am weak. So, she gives me some exercises to start doing pre and post surgery and recommends that I start exercising 30 minutes a day (every day) between now and my surgery. I take her recommendation seriously as I want as little difficulty with the surgery as possible. However, before I start the exercise let’s chat about some healthy food!
Vegetables and fruits are linked with a reduced risk of cancer, so this BBQ salad should be good for me. The salad is straight forward to make. First step is to grill the vegetables. The vegetables are:
Eggplant, which has phytochemicals. There is no conclusive study on phytochemicals, yet. But eggplant has anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid that act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. This could prevent tumor growth and spread of cancer. I see a lot more eggplant in my future!
Tomatoes, have lycopene which is a phytochemical. It is being studied a lot in prostate cancer because it has free radical-fighting antioxidants. Free radicals are damaging molecules that float around in the body disrupting cells and promoting disease. There is some evidence that this will help reduce breast cancer, but nothing conclusive.
Bell peppers are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and apigenin. Apigenin is a phytochemical that has been shown to exhibit potent growth-inhibitory effects in HER2/neu-overexpressing breast cancer cells. However, I am not HER2 positive. Vitamin A supplements have not been shown to lower cancer risk. Also many studies have linked intake of foods rich in vitamin C to a lower risk of cancer. Well I don’t know if it will help, but I love me some bell peppers!
My eggplant blows up on the grill
Chop the grilled vegetables and mix in the following ingredents:
Onions is an allium, which is known for various health benefits since ancient Egyptian times.
Garlic also is an allium and is being studied to see if it will reduce cancer risk, but there’s nothing definitive at this time. However there was a study of French women which found that those who consumed more onions and garlic had a lower risk of breast cancer. The good news is most dishes I cook start with garlic and onions and I love ’em. I plan on continuing to eat them even if it makes my breath stink, that’s what tic tacs are for!
Cilantro is high in vitamin A and K. It is known for lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. This is thought to be good for colon cancer, but nothing in particular about breast cancer. However I am one of the people who love cilantro and so it being good for the other organs, means I should eat it!
Rice isn’t really known for healthy diet, especially white rice. However I grew up eating it and it is consumed by 1/2 of the worlds population. So how bad can it be? Well that’s a debate that I don’t feel like having so I’m just going to make it and call it healthy.
The plov is a bit more complicated to make than the Soyug Salat. First you par cook the rice. Then combine egg, some of the rice, and yogurt and create a qazamq. I have no idea what qazamq is, but looking it up in trusty google I find that it is the Azerbaijan word for the crust made at the bottom of the pan when steaming rice.
Fry the qazamq in butter. Then add the rice and more butter and saffron.
Cover with a lid and towel and let the rice cook. When done flip the pan over and serve
Well the top of the rice looks burnt, but it all tastes good. It is buttery rice with a bit of a crunch. T he salad reminds me more of salsa, but has a great smokey flavor.
Original recipe can be found here
- 1 eggplant
- 1 tomato
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 5 sprigs of cilantro
- juice of 1/2 of one lemon
- 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
- Place eggplant, tomato, and bell peppers on barbecue and turn regularly as the vegetables cook.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Chop and place in a large bowl.
- Finely chop 1 onion and mince garlic and add to the salad
- Finely chop cilantro and mix in with the salad.
- Add vegetable oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper mix well.
- Allow to cool before serving.
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 2 tablespoon yoghurt
- Rinse the rice in cold water several times to remove excess starch.
- Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse.
- Fill a large, heavy saucepan with water and add salt. Bring to the boil. Add the rice to the boiling water. Turn the heat down slightly but cook at a rapid boil for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Strain the rice through a rice colander.
- Prepare the crust or qazmaq: mix together 1 egg, 4 tablespoons of the parboiled rice and yogurt. Add some of the infused saffron water.
- Add tablespoon of butter to the pan and melt.
- Add qazmaq to the pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add half the rest of the parboiled rice to pan and pour over half of the saffron infusion.
- Put the rest of the rice in the pan and pour most of the remaining saffron infusion over it.
- Put remaining butter on top.
- Make holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow the steam to escape.
- Place a well-fitting lid on top of the saucepan, covered underneath with a clean tea towel. T he towel helps to absorb the steam.
- Once the rice is steaming, turn down the heat and leave to continue steaming for 30 minutes.