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This is What You Want to Eat – Uzbekistan


Let me tell you about Uzbek cuisine...

I've always travelled home to Uzbekistan several times a year to visit family, meet with colleagues on the ground and explore new hotel, restaurant and tourism options. We never stop improving our tours and there's always something interesting. Recently the hospitality industry there has seen an increase in gluten free and vegetarian meal options in our Silk Road destinations, especially in the larger cities.

Since the start of this pandemic, I haven't been home. Instead, I've been videoconferencing - collaborating on fresh ideas with our clients and colleagues and the tourism and hospitality industry in Uzbekistan.

Living in the Garden State for many years now,I've come to rely on our fabulous vegetable garden evere summer. It reminds me of gardens back home. Food in Uzbekistan is always fresh and local. Our travelers fall in love with the cuisine and it's great to have a wider dietary choice for them now.

In a nation where "hospitality is rated higher than courage", it is not surprising that the cuisine here is bountiful! Since the days of the Silk Road caravans, the meal laid out for a guest was never simple fare - every inch of the table was covered with delicacies, enough for several helpings, and bonds created over those meals became lasting friendships.

Some Uzbek recipes are centuries old, complete with different rituals and traditions. The most well-known of the national dishes, featured at every feast, is an intricate, savory pilaf (plov or osh) prepared with mutton, vegetables and spices. Women usually do most of the cooking, but men are considered best at preparing plov. For special occasions, an oshpaz (special pilaf chef) may even be called in.

As varied as the countries along the Silk Road routes, Uzbekistan's dishes include traditional breads, delicious soups flavored with vegetables, noodles or chilled yogurt, unique stuffed pastries and dumplings and an abundance of fresh fruit. Yoqimli Ishtaha! Bon Appetit!

PLOVPlov is our version of pilaf,the national dish. Every region, city, town and family has its own special recipe. In Tashkent, we can take you to see it being made, you can choose your toppings and then sit down for a satisfying meal. Local chefs are happy to teach guests, as well, just let us know.

BREAD. There is never a meal without bread in Uzbekistan! Lepyoshka, tandyr or patyr non, a meal without bread is considered incomplete. Like plov, these rounds differ regionally in flavor (in Samarkand it tastes almost like sourdough, in Bukhara it's often brightly decorated or beautifully stamped). These fabled flatbreads are baked in a wood-fire oven known as a tandur, served warm, distributed by the youngest at the table, and never placed upside down.

SHASHLIK are shishkebab, a very popular meal throughout Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean. Lamb or beef skewers are marinated and grilled, some cafes prepare chicken as well. But come hungry! (Our colleagues in Bukhara say theirs are best)

MANTI are savory dumplings stuffed with minced meat and onions.Steamed and served with sour cream, you can find vegetarian variations containing pumpkin or potatoes as well.

LAGHMAN. Noodles are ubiquitous throughout Asia, and Uzbekistan has lagman. Hand-pulled wheat noodles are served in a meat or vegetable sauce like a soup. Qavurma lagman are noodles served as a main dish. Khiva's speciality is green noodles made with dill.

SALADS are fresh. One thing you can count on in Uzbekistan is that all ingredients are fresh and local. You'll usually find a tomato, cucumber and onion salad, but there's varieties of carrot, beet and cabbage and a range of chilled creamy Russian-style, meat-based salads.

SAMSA - hand held meat pockets, the local fast food. Sold almost everywhere or made at home, in Central Asia, they are flaky pie crust stuffed with meat and onions and oven baked. Occasionally, you'll find delicious samsa filled with potato or pumpkin.

DRIED FRUITS AND NUTS Stroll through any market or bazaar and you'll see that Uzbeks love dried apricots, raisins and all manner of nuts, even fruits stuffed with nuts. Every table has an assortment and are always the accompaniment for tea. They make great travel snacks!

TEA/CHAI Locals drink tea... a lot of tea, mostly green tea. You'll find more black tea in places like Tashkent, and wonderful spiced tea in Bukhara. Even in the midst of the summer heat, hot tea is said to cool and refresh. Tea sets in Uzbekistan are beautiful, the cups like small handleless bowls and usually blue and white patterned. Local tea hangouts are known as chaikana, offering a place to relax, enjoy your tea and socialize.

Vegetarian options are becoming easier to find in the larger cities. Produce is readily available, especially as side dishes and more restaurants are increasingly trying to meet the demand for vegetarian main dishes. Letting your guide know your preferences aheadof time will ensure that accommodations are ready for you.
To learn more about our Uzbekistan Culinary Tours visit this link:
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