Uzbek cuisine

U

Patyr bread, Copyright Shuhrataxmedov

In my alternative history, the newlywed Imperial couple eats by an Uzbek restaurant on Nevskiy Prospekt after shopping for new Christmas ornaments in the historic department store The Passage. In lieu of going to one of the established cafés (which include the café at which Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin ate his final meal), they decide to try something a little more exotic. Arkadiya, the new Tsaritsa, is so impressed, she hires some foreign cooks for more variety in the palace menu.

Uzbekistani cuisine is a beautiful reflection of how the nation has historically been at the crossroads of many empires and trade routes. The Uzbeks are a Turkic people, but there are also strong influences from Russia, Persia/Iran, Afghanistan, and several of the Central Asian republics. In addition, there’s also Bukharan cuisine, of Uzbekistan’s unique Jewish community.

Manti (dumplings), Copyright Ramón from Llanera, España; original source Mantı

Like many other peoples in this part of Asia, the Uzbeks too frequently eat mutton and goat. However, they also eat meats most Westerners would consider taboo—horse and camel. This isn’t a particularly vegetarian- or vegan-friendly cuisine. Many of the most common, popular dishes contain some type of meat. There are also many noodle-based dishes, foods made with yoghurt, oshi toki (stuffed grape leaves), shakarap (tomato and onion salad), and dholeh (risotto).

Shurbo dushpera (dumpling soup) with obi non bread

The signature Uzbek dish is plov, a rice pilaf made with meat, carrots, chickpeas, raisins, fruit, and onions, and cooked in a qozon, a large iron pot. Other common, popular dishes include naryn (noodles and horse meat), dimlama (a stew made with meat, vegetables, onions, potatoes, and sometimes fruits), shurpa (soup made of fatty meat and vegetables), various types of dumplings, kebabs, and green tea. Teahouses are very common in Uzbekistan. In modern Tashkent, black tea is preferred to green, though both varieties are typically served sans sugar or milk. Every guest is automatically given a glass of hot tea.

Ayran (a cold yoghurt drink mixed with salt), Copyright Mavigogun

Dessert typically consists of fruit, compote, halvah, and nuts, with more green tea. Uzbek cuisine doesn’t have lots of pastries and baked goods like Western cuisines. One of their sweeter desserts is chak-chak, which can be found around much of the former Russian Empire. It’s of Tatar origin, and made of unleavened dough rolled into small balls which are deep-fried in oil, stacked in a mound, and drizzled liberally with hot honey. Hazelnuts and fruit may also be added to the mixture.

Sumalak

Sumalak (sweet paste made from germinated wheat), Copyright Myone63

Uzbekistan’s traditional bread is called patyr or obi non, and baked as a flat circular loaf, with a thin, decorated, depressed centre and thick rim around the perimeter. The decorated side faces up when it’s served. The bread is baked in a tandir, a clay oven. Depending upon the region and the occasion, the bread may be decorated differently, or prepared with a different recipe.

Uzbek gâteaux, Copyright Ji-Elle

Advertisements

10 comments on “Uzbek cuisine

  1. Zeljka says:

    I’ve tried manti for the first time while in St Petersburg, later we began to buy different kinds of frozen manti in Diksi supermarket and to prepare it ourselves. I loved it. 🙂

    Like

  2. jazzfeathers says:

    Now I’m hungry.
    I’ve tried doing Ayran myself, as a Pakistani friend of mine taught me. A work mate married to a Iraqi man also taught me how to do it, and she told me I have to try different amounts of salt in the drink until I find the amount that works for me. I don’t think I’ve found it yet…

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz

    Like

  3. Tarkabarka says:

    The breads look delicious! I like exotic pastries… 🙂

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

    Like

  4. The patyr bread looks tasty. Not sure I’d want salt in my yogurt though.

    Like

  5. Fascinating post – I’m always interested in different cuisines. I wouldn’t fancy horse or camel meat, but those desserts look fab, and I’d only want my tea sans milk and sugar anyway. 🙂

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

    Like

  6. cleemckenzie says:

    I love food and the more tangy and exciting it is the better. Those breads look like I could eat them all in a single sitting.

    Like

  7. I know they make very good sweets — I’ve tasted something similar to the Turkish baklava some years back. At least it was marked as Uzbek delicacy, as I understood. But in looking at the images here and descriptions, the soup looks really good. The sweet paste, too. Uzbek culture is tremendously rich in tradition and it certainly shows in their dishes. Beautiful reflection of the country’s history. Indeed.

    Like

  8. Joy says:

    you are making me hungry! those dumplings look delicious. When I had my first Russian dumplings we dunked them in evaporated milk.
    Joy @ The Joyous Living

    Like

  9. What a delightful post. I’m always interested in the cuisines of different cultures, and you’ve highlighted quite a few dishes I’d like to try. Yum!

    Like

  10. […] Sorbonne, and St. Serafim of Sarov (21 views) Tsesarevich, Tsaritsa, and Transliteration (17 views) Uzbek cuisine (23 views) Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley (10 views) The Winter Palace (34 views) Grand Duchess […]

    Like

Share your thoughts respectfully

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s