Plov: A pulao goes to Samarkand

'Plov: A pulao goes to Samarkand' written by Abhijit Banerjee, co-director and co-founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT, discusses the historical connections between South Asia and Uzbekistan, particularly in the context of the famous rice dish known as "pulao" in Hindi, "pollo" in Persian, and "plov" in Uzbek. The author reflects on the long-shared history between the regions, with references to Hindu traders who were involved in finance and money transactions during ancient times. These traders used a system called "hundi" for long-distance financial transactions, which still exists in South Asia today.

The article also touches upon the cultural and culinary aspects of Uzbekistan, with a particular focus on the city of Tashkent and its connection to Bengal. The author describes the experience of being a guest in Uzbekistan, where every meal seems to revolve around the delicious plov dish, cooked in a meat broth with lamb, carrots, and black raisins.

Throughout the article, Abhijit highlights the significance of trust in financial transactions and draws parallels to the early days of software firms in South India, where building trust with foreign customers was crucial. He speculates on how the Hindu traders in Bukhara managed to establish trust with their counterparts in a foreign land and suggests that human connection and face-to-face interactions played a role in fostering trust.

In the end, the article delves into the recipe for making plov, detailing the process of cooking the dish with lamb, carrots, and raisins, while also providing insights into the cultural significance of this traditional Uzbek cuisine.

The article blends historical narratives, cultural observations, and culinary experiences, painting a vivid picture of the connections between South Asia and Uzbekistan through the lens of a traditional rice dish.

The Times of India