About the Food of Uzbekistan

The Registan Square in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo by  Gustavo Jeronimo.

The Registan Square in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo by Gustavo Jeronimo.

Upon our friends, 
Our strength depends.

Uzbek Proverb

Before this adventure, it often took a personal connection to help me tune into another part of the world, and such was the case with Uzbekistan.  I never gave much thought to the long central Asian country, until college, when I became friends with a girl named Marina.

She moved to the states from Uzbekistan when she was a girl.

We jogged together, 3 miles a day, 6 days a week. We never ran so hard that we couldn’t talk.

And boy did we ever talk.

My sister Elisa, Marina, myself, and Becky.

My sister Elisa, Marina, myself, and Becky on my wedding day.

She stood with me at my wedding in 2008, along with my sister and my friend Becky.

Speaking of weddings, here’s a photo of an Uzbek bride I found… look at her dress! Amazing.

(As are the other women’s dresses!)

Newlyweds in Uzbekistan. Photo by Dalbera.

Newlyweds in Uzbekistan. Photo by Dalbera.

Marina tells me Plov is the most traditional Uzbek food – the giant, communal pot of rice cooked with lamb and a few vegetables, rather like the Plov Recipe we tried for Turkmenistan.

tajikistan.food.recipe.img_0546

Unlike the plov we made for Tajikistan, however, Uzbek plov (also Palov), is known for it’s use of saffron and for sometimes including such treats as stuffed grape leaves, chickpeas, quince and more. There’s always lamb and carrots.

Marina says:

The right recipe will call for equal weight fatty lamb and julienned carrots, and a lot of barberries and cumin seeds, among other things.

She also suggests serving it with tomato and onion salad.

 The Greater Chimgan Mountain in Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan. Photo by Dmitriy Page.

The Greater Chimgan Mountain in Tashkent Province, Uzbekistan. Photo by Dmitriy Page.

Three other dishes Marina recommends are the big steamed dumplings, called manti, shashlik (shish kebob), and kambocha squash samosas.  Kambocha is the green skinned “pumpkin” with pale orange flesh.

These would certainly keep me warm on the chilliest of days.

Photo by Uzbekistan in the snow, by Kmaksud2012.

Photo by Uzbekistan in the snow, by Kmaksud2012.

Then there’s the simple, market-inspired meals. Like the Dimlama, a stewed one-pot vegetable dish often made at the end of the summer to use up garden produce  [Recipe].  A thick round of Uzbek bread, rather like the naan we made for Tajikistan, would make the perfect accompaniment.

Bread sellers with their traditional flat round loaves of Uzbek bread. Photo by upyernoz.

Bread sellers with their traditional flat round loaves of Uzbek bread. Photo by upyernoz.

For dessert, Marina recommends anything from the ever-loved baklava, honey cake, to even a spread of fresh fruit.

Fruit in Uzbekistan. Photo by Shuhrataxmedov.

Fruit in Uzbekistan. Photo by Shuhrataxmedov.

Traditional fruits include apples, quince (try it stuffed - [Recipe]), grapes, cherries, and other stone fruit.

When served with nuts, honey, and good, strong tea, all is well.

Maps & flag of Uzbekistan, courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

Maps & flag of Uzbekistan, courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

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Comments

  1. Brian Schwartz says:

    When I was a little kid, my dad wanted to take us to Uzbekistan. But we never went. It was to see Samarkand, of course. Samarkand, its very name redolent of history, is an ancient city. It sits astride trade routes and has been an important way station for almost 3000 years. In the 14th century it was the capital of Tamerlane’s huge empire.

  2. My eyes caught the Coca-Cola bottles in your last picture. It seems to me that this softdrink is a true global one. Should there be any drink more globally spread (apart from coffee and tea)?

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