CUISINE OF UZBEKISTAN
Uzbek Food/Cuisine, Food of Uzbekistan, Uzbek kitchen
Uzbek cuisine appeared as a result of mixing of several cultures of the Great Silk Road. Especially it got the influence of Persian and Turkic culture in the X– XII centuries. Also, it difference from the cuisine of neighborhood nations: Turkmens, Kazakhs and Karakalpaks. Kazakhs and Karakalpaks cuisine mostly depends on meat. In contrast, Uzbek cuisine is rich in all culinary directions. According to food experts, modern Uzbek cuisine mostly established relatively recently – 120-150 years ago when the vegetables (radish, potatoes, tomatoes, etc) of Europe began to penetrate. Nevertheless, a lot of food recipes have a deep root – in the writings of Avicenna and other famous historians.
Seasons play a significant role in the type of main dishes because of the availability of some ingredients. For example, in spring people prepare a salad of sour cream with radishes, dumplings or samsa/samosa with herbs, pilaf/plov with rolls from grape leaves.
In summer – a cold soup made from greens, and sour milk, cabbage stuffed, stuffed bell pepper, Lagman (noodle), salad with suzma (local yogurt), stewed vegetables, ayran (cold milk drink), tea, compotes (local lemonade), and others.
In autumn – fried meat, fish skewers, manty with pumpkin, roast lamb, quail soup, pilaf/plov with quince, and others.
In winter – pilaf/plov with sheep’s fat, lamb shish kebab, pilaf with a kazy-card, sheep’s fat, sheep’s fat; kazy-card, lamb shish kebab, radish salad, roasted soup, moshkichiri (dish of mung beans), various fruits preserved for the winter, preserves, fruit drinks, pickles.
In spring, dumplings with herbs, a salad of radishes with sour cream, samsa/samosa with herbs, pilaf/plov with cabbage rolls from grape leaves, roast cauliflower, a soup with mung and mint.
There is one more a sweet dish called “Sumalak” cooked in spring on the occasion of Navruz Holiday (Eastern New Year). It is cooked collectively for 24 hours by closest neighbors & relatives. Each of them makes wishes while stiring it. The main specialty of this dish is that when are ready, hosts share it with neighbors, friends, colleagues, and relatives who even have not participated in a cooking.
The peculiarity of Uzbek cuisine is steaming dishes. So, in the Kaskan (steaming dish), manti, Hunon, Hashsh, Buglama, cho’p-kabob and others are prepared. There are tandoori dishes as well. For example, tandoor beef, samosa/samsa, and barbeque.
Uzbek people put all eatable items on the table at one time and eat slowly and long. Unlike other nations, Uzbek people eat heavily during the dinner & have a very light breakfast! Firstly, because of the heat, and secondly, because many Uzbek dishes need long time to cook: 2-3 hours.
Breakfast in Uzbek is called “nonushta”, which means “eat bread”. Indeed, breakfast includes cakes, tea, cream, or boiled milk. During the day, they also eat light food – salads, fruits. Vegetables and greens are served whole. Of fruits, for starters, they prefer melon or watermelon.
The best and easiest way to know a nation is through its cuisine! Accordingly we invite you to Uzbekistan to try the dishes which have become an art to cook!
Famous Uzbek Plov/Pilaf
The king of Uzbek cuisine is plov/pilaf. Throughout history, it was costly. Accordingly, rich folks could afford it every 2nd or 3rd day, while normal men could only once a week-Thursday’s dinner and while poor men used to have it only during national holidays or special occasions when local rulers hosted them … Even there was a popular saying among folks “if you have the last penny to spend, eat plov. If you have the last day to live, eat plov”.
Nowadays, Uzbek families cook it, at least, twice a week. Moreover, it is a must dish when guests come.
A lot of traditions/ceremonies have links with plov. On the occasion of a wedding, a jubilee, a funeral, a holiday occasion…plov is served for up to 500 folks!!!
By the way, plov is the only dish in which men (male) are allowed to cook! There are different types & techniques of pilaf throughout Uzbekistan. Each is unique & has a specific taste!
The ingredients of the dish: sunflower oil, salt, onion, carrot, spices (cumin/jeera), raisins, rice, water, garlic, meat (beef or lamb), 2-3 hot peppers.
Tea and Uzbek people
Any Uzbek meal begins and ends with a tea party with sweets. Uzbek tea drinking is a ritual. The Uzbeks are rather tea drinkers than the British! Tea is drunk mainly green, without sugar. Brewing tea and pouring it to guests is the prerogative of the owner. The Uzbeks accepted: the more respected the guest, the less tea in his bowl. You can take care of the guest by regularly adding tea to him. Full drinking means neglect: drink faster and leave.
Even there is a tea serving tradition by a bride the next day after a wedding! It is a “ritual” like a tea-drinking ceremony in China!
Bread is a vital component of the Uzbek cuisine. It is baked in the shape of a sun & regarded as a holy item. The Uzbeks swear by holding it; Uzbek Mothers put a small piece of bread under a pillow of a cradle to avoid nightmare of a child; when a baby makes first steps, a mother rolls tiny baked bread between his legs to symbolize wealth “under his legs”; engagement of couples are performed by breaking it into 2 pieces; when a guy is going to Army, he bites off a piece of bread & eats. This bread is hung on the wall until his return symbolizing he has to return home to finish his share (the remaining bread) ….
To have the experience of trying various delicious Uzbek food, we invite you to visit our lovely Uzbekistan via our Uzbekistan Gourmet Tour!