Uzbek cuisine is popular far beyond Central Asia and Uzbek dishes are prepared all over the world. The influence of Uzbek culture and traditions was so strong that all the other countries of Central Asia had taken something from Uzbekistan. If you have visited one of the countries of the region, you have tried or at least heard of pilaf, lagman, samsa, manti, etc. Well, those are all Uzbek dishes so why not to try them in their homeland and appreciate the taste of Uzbek national cuisine.
Uzbekistan National Cuisine: History
Unlike other nations of Central Asia, that had a nomadic lifestyle, Uzbeks mostly were settled nation. For centuries, Uzbekistan was closely connected with Persia and Tajikistan thus adopting much from their cultures and traditions.
Uzbek cuisine consists of dough, meat, lots of herbs and spices, sheep fat, sunflower, cottonseed and sesame oil. Frequently used spices and herbs are zira, barberries, coriander and basil. From dairy products, Uzbeks use Katik, yoghurt.
Traditionally Uzbeks have meals on the short-legged table or the floor covering it with dastarhan (tablecloth). Guests sit on small cushions around dastarhan to have a rest before and after dinner. Every meal starts with tea, fruits and vegetable salad, and then soup and main course are served.
Uzbekistan National Cuisine: Most popular dishes
Pilaf is the symbol of Uzbek cuisine. Traditionally men cook pilaf mixing the ingredients in a huge kazan. There are more than sixty recipes of Uzbek pilaf. Every region has its traditional pilaf and each of them is perfect in its way. Basic ingredients of pilaf are rice, carrot, mutton or beef, spices and onions. In Tashkent, the ingredients are roasted first and then mixed. In Bukhara pilaf is prepared with green gram. Samarkand pilaf has light colour and ingredients are layered while Fergana pilaf is brown and all mixed.
Almost all traditional dishes include meat. It is usually mutton, beef and horsemeat are used, in coastal regions, fish is also used. As a Muslim nation, pork is prohibited in Uzbekistan. Popular meat dishes are shish kebab, manti, khanum, kazy and cold meat snacks like kavurdak and khasib.
Uzbek soups are fatty with a lot of greens, meat and vegetables. The most popular soup is shurpa with a dozen of its variations like shurpa-chaban, shurpa-mash, kaurma-shurpa, kiyma-shurpa, sholgom-shurpa and kifta-shurpa.
Traditional Uzbek bread looks like a big bagel stamped like a flower and baked in tandyr. Each region has its technology of baking bread. For example, in Samarkand bread is of medium size thick bread with sesame seeds. Fergana Valley bread is the tastiest: each layer of the bread is smeared with sour cream or oil. Just like in other Asian nations, bread is sacred in Uzbekistan. Only men are allowed to bake bread.
Every meal starts and ends with a tea ceremony. Kuk-choy is a popular green tea served during the hot season. In Tashkent kora-choy (black tea) is more popular. Tea is spiced with special herbs and served in small piala with kand-choy sugar. The tea table is completed with oriental sweets like khalva, navat, katlama, bugirsok, zangza curd rolls, nisholda, sumalyak, kush-tili and chak-chak. All there oriental and interesting sweets look so tasty and attractive you can hardly resist.
Finally, if you are planning to taste all the popular traditional dishes of Uzbek cuisine, it is worth to consider top best national restaurants in Tashkent where the traditions of ancient culture are mixed with modern serving.
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