Tajikistan is one of the most attractive destinations of Central Asia with its rich culture and traditions, fantastic landscapes and ancient architecture. Traditional cuisine is the heritage of the nation that is preserved for centuries and now they are so much proud of their rich cuisine. As an explorer, we have found some interesting historical background about Tajikistan national cuisine and prepared top best dishes to taste.
Tajikistan National Cuisine: History
For a long time, Tajikistan was part of the Great Silk Road and the culture of the country was greatly influenced by the traditions of other cultures. The formation of traditional cuisine was also the result of international relations. The nomadic way of life without the possibility to preserve food forced Tajiks to use exceptionally fresh products. The basis of Tajik dishes is meat, usually, it is horse meat, sheep or goat, but they also use beef and poultry. As a Muslim country, pork is prohibited here.
Unlike other traditional cuisines of Central Asia, Tajik dishes are spiced up with seasonings and greens. The most frequently used spices are saffron, anise, zira, red pepper, barberry, from greens they use fennel, coriander, parsley, raikhon, mint and green onions.
Every meal is a real ceremony. Tajiks respect food and especially bread that is treated in a very special way. Bread is not allowed to be thrown away or dropped on the floor, it is always put on the table upwards and it is never cut with a knife.
The dinner table is called a dastarkhan. Family members and guests gather together around the low table and sit on a sofa. Every meal starts with a cup of tea. It is drunk from pialahs with fruit, cakes and sweets. Usually, Tajiks drink green tea in summer and black tea in winter. Traditional sweets served with tea are puff pies, pilita, halvah, nishallo, pichak and crystal sugar. Next is served soup and main courses.
Tajikistan National Cuisine: Dishes
The most popular dish of Tajik cuisine is pilau (pilaf, plov). Actually, there are five popular recipes of pilau in the traditional cuisine of Tajikistan: pilau with meat, Tajik pilau, Dushanbe pilau, pilau with noodles and pilau with chicken. Plov is a traditional dish in all central Asian countries, yet each of them has its special recipe, Tajik pilaus are cooked with dried fruits, pea, quince and garlic in a huge kazan on an open fire. Traditionally pilau is eaten with bare hands.
Kabob is another typical Tajik dish prepared from mutton. Minced meat is mixed with spices, onion and pepper and shaped into sausages. Meat sausages are floured and fried with onions and meat broth. Kabob is served with fresh greens and garlic. Another traditional dish to taste is osh-tuglama, Tajik porridge with carrots, mutton and rice. The ingredients are cooked separately, mixed in a pot with broth and left until ready.
Soup is an important part of the meal. Sometimes it is served as the main course. Tajik soups are very thick and filling with a lot of tomatoes, spices and sour-milk products. As a rule, soups are cooked with fatty broth and pieces of meat. Soups like shorba and urgo are served in oval-shaped bowl pialah, kasa or tavak.
Salad or fresh vegetables are must on a traditional table. There is a tradition, that guests are treated with salads or vegetable appetizes before the main course. The traditional salad of Tajik cuisine is hissar with potatoes, boiled carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, meat, eggs and onion. The salad is seasoned with a sour-milk product like katyk and decorated with greens.
The taste and aroma of Tajik traditional dishes cannot be described with words so the best thing to do is to visit one of the top national restaurants of Dushanbe for a degustation evening.
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