Uzbek cuisine is one of the most colorful and palatable ones of the Orient. Some recipes go back several hundred years old traditions and require strictly observed rituals. Obi-non, for example, the typical Uzbek bread is traditionally served to welcome guests. Among other traditional Uzbek dishes are: “Manti” and “Somsa” (pastry filled with different meat, herbs, and vegetables) and “Shashlik” (savory lamb barbecue).
The seasons, specifically winter and summer, greatly influence the composition of the basic menu. In the summer, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are ubiquitous. Fruits grow in abundance in Uzbekistan – grapes, melons, watermelons, apricots, pears, apples, cherries, pomegranates, lemons, persimmons, quinces, and figs. Vegetables are no less plentiful, including some lesser-known species such as green radishes, yellow carrots, and dozens of pumpkin and squash varieties, in addition to the usual eggplants, peppers, turnips, cucumbers, and luscious tomatoes. In general, mutton is the preferred source of protein in the Uzbek diet. Fatty-failed sheep are prized not only for their meat and fat as a source of cooking oil but for their wool as well. Beef and horsemeat are also consumed in substantial quantities. Camel and goat meat are less common. Uzbek dishes are not notably hot and fiery, though certainly flavorful. Some of their principal spices are black cumin, red and black peppers, barberries, coriander, and sesame seeds. The more common herbs are cilantro (fresh coriander), dill, parsley, celeriac, and basil. Other seasonings include wine vinegar, liberally applied to salads and marinades, and fermented milk products.
Plov (Palov aka Pilaf )
This is the King among the national dishes of Uzbekistan and is a favorite among the populace. It is prepared for each and every holiday. Its recipe slightly varies from region to region. Its most typical ingredients are raisins, peas, quince, lamb or beef, and rice. The meal is incredibly calorie-dense, and Uzbeks occasionally eat it as breakfast at six in the morning. They claim that there are more than 100 different varieties of pilaf, however, this is untrue. Everyone makes the dish in their own manner, despite the fact that they all use the same components.
Shurpa is a popular light soup in Uzbekistan, Little to no ingredients are needed, and it is simple to cook. The meat must be cooked well before adding large pieces of potatoes and carrots, spices, and herbs before serving. Shurpa is eaten all year round in both hot and cold weather; locals enjoy eating it by dipping bread into the soup.
There are two types of Lagman. Soup Lagman is a thick noodle soup with thinly sliced fried meat and vegetables and Fried Lagman aka Kovurma lagman is a hand-rolled thick noodle with roasted lamb, onions, celery, tomatoes, garlic, and spices. Served with different potherbs from Central Asia and thin omelet slices.
Chuchvara is a very popular dish in Uzbekistan. It goes by several names in different nations; for example, ravioli in Italy and dumplings in China. The meal is fairly challenging to make because you have to perfect the skill of encasing the stuffing, which is minced beef, in a tiny piece of dough. You can prepare a lot of dumplings after you have mastered the wrapping process; some can be frozen for later cooking. It is eaten both with and without soup in Uzbekistan, with the addition of sour milk. You can sprinkle some herbs and black pepper on top when serving. It is calorie-dense and has basic ingredients, and it is frequently served at weddings.
Tea is the staple drink of Central Asia, and chai-khanas (tea houses) can be found almost everywhere in Uzbekistan, full of old men chatting the afternoon away with a pot of tea in the shade.
Ayran is a cold beverage of sour milk and spring water, spiced with herbs. This beverage is very bracing and relieves thirst.
Winemaking in Uzbekistan
Now in Uzbekistan, more than 37 varieties of grapes are grown in various zones, which occupy over 88.8 hectares in specialized farms, including 26,561 hectares and European varieties of wine meeting the needs of wineries in the industry. Wine-making is regarded as art, respectively, society appreciates noble wine makers, has respect for their work, which is essential to prevent the manufacture of counterfeit products. Application of modern methods of determining the quality of products and technology of their production for the entire cycle of crop cultivation to finished products. Because of this Uzbek wines make their way into foreign markets. Much attention is paid to the development of resource areas and the improvement of the varietal composition of grapes in relation to the requirements of our customers. In wine production grape varieties included in the State Register of the Republic are used. The basis for the creation of a raw-material base for industrial wine-making, training growers and winemakers, the development and introduction of advanced farming techniques in vineyards, as well as technologies in the wine industry was put by eminent scholars A.M. Negrul, N. N. Rybakov, M.A. Khovrenko, M. A. Mirzayev, etc. Grade studying and grade testing of different grape varieties showed that in Uzbekistan, as nowhere, it seems possible to receive different types of wines from one and the same variety in compliance with the time of harvest with respect the type of wine. Major wine grape varieties are grown in Uzbekistan – « Gulja », « Hungarian Muscat », « Muscat rose », « Aleatico », « Riesling », « Rkatsiteli », « Saperavi », « Vassarga Black « , « May black », « Hindogni », « Morastel », « Cabernet-Sauvignon », « Tavkveri », « Aligote », « Bayan Shirey », « Soyaki », « Parkent pink », « Bakhtiyori ».
The sugar content of grapes in Uzbekistan is up to 28%. This advantage ensures the uniqueness of the flavor of dessert wines of Uzbek winemakers.
Local mineral water contains a higher level of minerals than western spring or bottled water and the taste can be rather « salty » (these mineral waters are considered healthier than European spring or mineral waters).
Imported spirits and wines are available, however, in some places the provenance of some spirits and wines is questionable and the prices are inflated. Accordingly, you are recommended to purchase your favorite alcohol duty-free prior to arrival. Central Asia has a reputation for the richness and delicacy of its fermented dairy products. The most predominant – katyk, or yogurt made from sour milk, and suzma, strained clotted milk similar to cottage cheese, are eaten plain, in salads, or added to soups and main products, resulting in a unique and delicious flavor.
The « choyhona » (teahouse) is a cornerstone of traditional Uzbek society. Always shaded, preferably near a cool stream, the choyhona is a gathering place for social interaction and fraternity. Robed Uzbek men congregate around low tables centered on beds adorned with ancient carpets, enjoying delicious palov, kebab, and endless cups of green tea. Plov is the staple food for everyday celebrations too. It consists of chunks of fried mutton or beef with onions, thinly shredded yellow or red carrot, and rice cooked in a large iron pot. Shashlyk, known also as kebabs, is skewered chunks of mutton or beef barbecued over charcoal and served with sliced raw onions and non (rounds of unleavened bread) Samsa (meat pies) is a pastry pie stuffed with meat and onion or pumpkin, potato, cabbage, mushrooms or nuts backed in tandyr. Tandyr is a traditional cylindrical clay oven, heated with coal or firewood. Skill is needed when placing the raw samsas or non on the inside wall of the oven. Manty are large dumplings stuffed with finely chopped meat or pumpkin, seasoned with various spices and a large amount of onion, and then steamed in a special pot. Shurpa is a meat and vegetable soup. Lagman is a thick noodle soup with thinly sliced fried meat and vegetables.
Enjoy your meal ! – Yoqimli ishtaha !