Central Asia meets Midwest in Nargiza Hashimova’s Olathe kitchen. Hashimova and her husband, Abbas Bakhautdinov, moved from Kyrgyzstan — a country west of China — to Kansas City nearly three years ago with their family.
The couple and their three children — son Abubakr, 8; daughter, Diyara, 6; and son Muhammad Ali, 9 months — still cling to the traditions of their Uighur heritage. Hashimova says the hospitable values with which she was raised are also found in the community of friends she has made in the Kansas City area.
Q: How did you end up moving half a world away to Olathe, Kansas?
A: My brother lives here, and we wanted to change our life. We wanted to be independent. After World War II, the Uighur people, which are a Turkic-speaking people, have been discriminated against. Our parents still live in Kyrgyzstan but are making plans to move here, too.
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It has been a hard move, but we continue to pray to God and are thankful for the new community and friends we have made.
Q: Susan Windsor, of Olathe, nominated you to be featured in the column because she is so impressed with your cooking.
A: She likes our food and is always happy to try our national food. She is someone who has become like family to us and is even the godmother to our son who was born here. That has been our experience with people in the Kansas City area: They are very welcoming and love to share hospitality.
Sometimes we are joking with each other about opening an Uighur restaurant in Olathe. Who knows? Maybe one day this joke will turn into reality.
Q: Why did you share this beef pilaf recipe?
Q: Plov is delicious, easy to make and a famous recipe in my country. Every Thursday, it is the tradition and custom to prepare this dish. By sharing this recipe, this is my way of sharing this dish with many people. My friend Susan was the first American person who tried my pilaf and she liked it very much.
Now, I continue the tradition and make this dish on Thursdays — just like my mom and mother-in-law did in Kyrgyzstan.
Q: Can you share what your Uighur heritage means to you?
Q: I am Uzbek and Uighur, and my husband is Uighur, so we share the same heritage. My heritage means faith in God, spiritual wealth and ancient customs that are passed from generation to generation from long ago.
I understand that it is very important to keep on following our heritage and teach my children to respect our heritage. Every day I am trying to pass our heritage to our children through the food and through the language we share. I hope, when they grow up, they will pass our heritage to their kids, too.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a cook.
Plov or Beef Rice Pilaf
Makes 10 servings
1/2 cup olive or corn oil
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
2 teaspoons salt, divided usage
1 large yellow onion, minced
2 (10-ounce) packages shredded carrots
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
5 cups boiling water
4 cups jasmine rice
Into a large Dutch oven, warm oil over medium-high heat on stovetop. Add beef to pot and saute for 5 to 8 minutes, or until browned.
Season with 1 teaspoon salt and add onion to pot. Saute onion for another 5 minutes, or until caramelized.
Add carrots to pot and season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cumin seeds. Saute another 5 minutes.
Carefully pour boiling water into pot and boil contents for 5 minutes. Stir in rice and cover pot tightly with lid. Allow contents to cook another 30 minutes, or until rice is done and water is completely absorbed.
Per serving: 487 calories (33 percent from fat), 17 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 43 milligrams cholesterol, 57 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 517 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.