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Uzbek cuisine

Uzbek National Cuisine


Pilaf is used to be food for the true connoisseurs and gourmands, favorites of fortune, warriors and philosophers. No wonder that among the fans of this dish there are many representatives of strong half of humanity. And a real pilaf can be created only by a man. The first information about pilaf was found in the annals of I-II century BC, at the time when a cultural cultivation of rice in India and the Middle East started. Actually, pilaf as a dish came out of these countries, however, only in Central Asia, more precisely in Uzbekistan, thanks to the ingenuity of the population and skills of cooks (named osh-pavoz), who pass on their knowledge and secrets from generation to generation, pilaf became a cultus, the object of pride and national property. None of event in Uzbekistan can be held without cooking this dish. It happens that a person has to eat a pilaf three times a day: morning pilaf (traditionally at 6 am) on the birth of a child; dinner pilaf – due to wake, and in the evening – on the occasion of wedding. And it is not boring, because the deal is that there is more than a hundred ways of cooking, moreover, master’s hand is a great thing. Each region, and sometimes every city in Uzbekistan has its own proprietary recipes for making pilaf and they are so various that even a beginner will never confuse Tashkent and Bukhara pilaf, and without any difficulty distinguish Samarkand from the Ferghana one. Of course, for a detailed study of the subject it is always necessarily to go to its homeland. But if you do not have much time, and you intend to learn about the dish more, and also to try the pilaf of different regions of the Uzbekistan, then your direct road is to the Central Asian Centre of pilaf. A cafe with such a sonorous title is located in Tashkent city, in a very beautiful shady corner, not a far distance from the city tower. There are no pretentious halls here, waiters in livery and gold on the ceilings – everything is simple and very democratic, because all kinds of the population come this place. Often you can see the company of businessmen dressed in status branded costumes exuding an incredible perfume, sitting beside a table with a simple office “plankton”, restless students or totally unceremonious tourists, who desire to capture every moment from the preparation up till the process of a meal. The secret is very simple: real thing can not be not liked, ant here everything is real: – there are real giant cast-iron kazans, in each of which a pilaf to 800 visitors ( the word of “custom” is not used, it is replaced by “Mehmon” which means “guest”) can be prepared. Contemporaneously, up to five of these kazans can be employed in the center for cooking various kinds of pilaf on reservation, although the most popular types are considered to be the “Tashkent toy oshi” (Tashkent holiday pilaf) and “Devzira-osh” (Ferghana pilaf with devzira rice) – there are real masters called osh-paz, who passed here the whole way from assistant up to masters despite neither the age nor the former merits. Moreover, if the veteran osh-paz or a novice helper reveals a lack of tact or respect towards the leadership of a cafe, they will surely be forgiven, because only the most talented people are picked to be here. But in case, God forbid, a rage was expressed in relation to the visitor, the dismissal is imminent, even despite the status. – and, of course, the most real freshest products. Meat and vegetables are brought here not in the evenings, but early in the mornings, directly from a six-hour market, thus the question about the quality just is not worth it. As it is broadly known to prepare the best pilaf everything should be the best: selected Khorezm rice, only yellow carrot of “mushak” variety, peas of “nohat” kind (preferably from the mountainous areas of Ferghana valley), Samarkand raisins, fresh beef and mutton, as well as vegetables, which are used for making the salads to pilaf. Moreover, apart from pilaf, salads, pastilles and tea, there is nothing else to order here, this is the specific institution. However, nobody murmurs, furthermore, probably it is hard to find the place to see people being such pacified after the meal. Nowadays, pilaf, owing to its democracy, conquered the entire world; it is cooked in many parts of the world. But still, try on a real pilaf, marvel at the variety of recipes, learn from the famous masters the basics of cooking, to acquire the necessary tableware and “right” spices, you can only here in Uzbekistan!


Barbecue, whatever one may say is the oldest dish on earth. Well, you see, a mammoth on a skewer – it is barbecue, and if it was pre-cut into the spruce, or on the branches of another fragrant kind of tree, here is the marinade to you and. Therefore, to argue about the Motherland of this beloved dish is simply useless. It is made ​​in all countries and all continents, only the names differ and a great quantity of recipes. Today I would like to tell about the Uzbek kebab, or as it is called here – “Kabob” (fried food without water “). Traditional Uzbek kebab is used to be a tender meat of lamb, marinated in aromatic spices, strung on a short skewer interspersed with thin slices of mutton fat interior (dumbo) and fried on a brazier. The aroma of roasted meat, mixing with the smell of burn through wood and red wine vinegar, laced with a barely perceptible hint of aromatic spices is a fairy tale. Well, who wit his own wish is able to pass this? You? Hats off – you’re really strong person. Speaking about strong people. Exclusively male were near the barbecue from immemorial time in Uzbekistan. Women are admitted to this priest only at the stage of dressing and marinating foods. According to the professionals (again male), there are several aspects in order to cook these wonderful dish. They are: good meat, “right” pickle, wood and, of course skill of kebab-maker. Well, it is all clear with good meat, it must be fresh and if possible from a young animal. But what about the “right pickle” – this is science. What is the only craftsmen do not marinate the meat for kebabs: it is vinegar, and sour milk, mayonnaise and lemon juice, and even brandy. It is adopted in Uzbekistan to marinate kebabs in the water. Yes, in the common cold boiled water, although a mineral water is also sometimes used. A small amount of water plus salt, pepper and spices, sliced ​​of onions yes – this is the right marinade. Now about the wood, it all depends on the region, but the most commonly used are dry twigs of dried apricots, cherries, and grapes. First, burn the wood for 30-40 minutes and only when they were covered with a layer of gray ash, that is actually the time to start frying. Roasting kebab sprinkles coals with melting fat and smoke, mixing with the aroma of verging on the meat, gives the meat an elusive but recognizable accent. It is needless to say, that the skill of kebab-maker is, perhaps the main component of a successful dish. It requires for him an unusual flair to determine the readiness of meat, skill and ability to adjust the intensity of the fire, and sometimes the ability to put out wine vinegar tabs open flame. Today the venerable osh-poses (cooks) of Uzbekistan offer up to twenty species of shish kebab. The most popular of which is: “kiyma kabob” – skewers of ground meat, “dzhigar kabob” – liver kebab, kabob of Charvil – skewers of meat, wrapped in plastic interior fat. Unusual recipes for lamb tenderloin and ribs on several skewers, spread out like a fan, are also in a great demand. Well, a riding skill is cooking barbecue, in which the whole pieces of meat are replaced by rolls stuffed with bacon interior (dumbo) and spices. In addition to lamb kebabs, the cooks masterfully prepare them with veal, chicken, fish, a special delicacy of Uzbek cuisine – skewers of quail (bedana). Today you are able also try eggplant, tomatoes, Bulgarian pepper, and mushrooms cooked on the grill. Kabobs of many regions and districts of Uzbekistan, are renowned for its cuisine might argue for the right to be called the best in the country, but the “garland» firmly belongs to barbecues of Gijduvan. This small district center is located 56 kilometers north of Bukhara city, is famous for its cuisine from the ancient time. Samsa is the most delicious, fish is also fried in a different way, well and kebabs – is another story. Gijduvan skewers both simple and complex, with its unique twist, forcing people to choose it from the variety of options proposed. It would seem, skewers of a ground meat, well, that might be unusual? But as soon as you put in your mouth the first piece, you understand that the unusual is everything. Elastic slice of delicious brown skin explodes in the language of the unique taste of melted dumbo and some fantastic bouquet of spices. It melts in your mouth, leaving an incredible finish, causing even the discerning palate screw up one’s eyes with pleasure. And what is a secret of it? Do not ask, an answer is impossible. One thing is for sure, Uzbekistan fans of Gijduvan barbeque is almost 99% of the adult population. However, the recipe is aware by only 1%, and apparently these are the chefs who own it and prepare. But it is useless to ask them. No, no you do not fail, and will be told for a long time with many details, but in practice you still will not be succeeded. It is not surprising, because the secret of this dish is thoroughly guarded from competitors and is transmitted from generation to generation to only authorized persons and students. Well, we have to live with the fact that we have something we do not know and just enjoy the result. It is good, there is no one who takes it away.


” Do you like Lagman? Do you like it as much as I do? “, having paraphrased the words of classic, I want to ask you, curious readers and inveterate travelers. No? And you do not even know what it is. Well, I do not dare to condemn, but my duty is to enlighten. It is hard to describe this dish or to drive it into some kind of framework. However, I do know one thing, it’s not a soup and a main course, although if that is desired, can be both this and that. What? Are you really confused? Even an ancient legend that tells of its originality will not be able to clarify this question. It says: “Once, three weary travelers met at the crossroads of three roads. They talked, so, it became clear that everybody is extremely hungry. “I have nothing except kazan” – the first traveler said. “I have only a little flour and jerked beef” – sadly said the second one. Fortunately, the third stranger admitted that he had a radish and spices, furthermore he could do something else, he could make something out of existing products, because this man was the pupil of cook. That was nothing else to do, travelers had to rely on the student. They located near a spring, and a young cook made a delicious Lagman. Namely, at that time, a Chinese dignitary was driving round this place, occasionally, was very hungry too. The flavor of the dish was so pleasing that Mister also asked to be treated with such dish. There was not limit of his delight, and in gratitude, he allowed three travelers to prepare the dish without paying any duties in his city, and even issued them a safe conduct. ” Have you noticed that the arrived dignitary was Chinese? This is no occasionally. Actually, Lagman was born in China and only after some time passed, was brought into Central Asia by settlers of Dungan and Uighur. By the way, each dish in China has its own symbols. Lagman is used to be a dish of love. Today, there are two ways of cooking Lagman in Uzbekistan: Uzbek and Uighur. I can not say that I see a fundamental difference in preparation, but several little nuances which force to make a choice, still exists. As you already understood, Lagman is a dish made ​​of flour, meat and vegetables. Or rather of noodles and gravy for it. Thus, Uighur Lagman is necessarily stretched noodles in a special way (chuzma Lagman) and the gravy from the meat and vegetables (kyle or vaja), which can be quite various: thick or semi-liquid. Uzbek Lagman admits a cutting noodle (kesme), and the sauce is considered to be a liquid that makes the dish look like a soup, as it allows some liberties towards to ingredients that are not valid in the classical Uighur recipe. All this does not make the dish to be worse, but simply facilitates the choice between catering for the connoisseurs of Lagman.


The favorite Uzbek dish is manti. For sure, every once in a lifetime tried this miracle. By the way, what do you call mantas? Really Manta? It is completely wrong, all nouns in Turkic languages ​​have an accent on the last syllable, therefore only mantas! And yet, mantas – this is the middle genus, the only number, so it is not worth it to refocus on this. It is very surprising, but before the 20th century, nobody heard about this dish (in the current interpretation) in Uzbekistan. It brought with them the migrants of Uighurs and Dungans, therefore the mantas we love are of Chinese origin. That’s really really “ubiquitous and omnipotent”, everywhere you look, all Made in China. But, unlike the market consumer goods, the dish in the Uighur performance was very, very much, and all the good quickly takes root. And now we are already proud: “our mantas” – the best manti in the world! Actually, in this statement very much is true. Only the Uzbek people were able to preserve the original classical recipe of the dish and offer an alternative to the Chinese bamboo bars on which the mantas were prepared. Yes, and the mantle-cascan or “manties”, as it is lovingly called by the people, was born in Uzbekistan. Manty, one of the many dishes of Uzbek cuisine, giving room for the irrepressible imagination of the cook, because only the composition of the test remains unchanged, and the fillings boldly vary depending on the season, taste preferences, and most importantly, the food of the cook. So the minced meat can consist of meat, from a potato, from greens, from turnips, from a pumpkin, from the Bulgarian pepper and even from a tomato. The main thing that would be at hand always in abundance were onions and dumba (mutton fat). Although, if not, it is not necessary, how to say “what God sent”. However, the classic recipe, which includes minced meat, onions and dumbbells, is really the most beloved, widely used and often used. Manty with lamb and onions is a holiday not only for the stomach, it is a feast for the soul! A large dish of fragrant envelopes from the finest dough in the middle of the table, noise and hubbub, sour cream or suzma with garlic for watering, bowls with hot tea and hands stretching for a new portion. All right, with a fork, manty must be eaten only by hands, because it is important to feel not only the taste, but the skill, and the soul of the cook who gave this miracle!


Hanum (or khanum, khanym, hanon – various spellings) – is not only the one name of the fare. In the Fergana valley it is called urama, which is translated as “bundle” or “wrapped”, on the method of cooking Uzbek hanum, but in the Andijan region this dish is called hanum, like in Tashkent. Generally, Uzbek hanum on stuffing and cooking technology is very similar to familiar manti. In part this is a fair point, especially as the recipes of Uzbek hanum and manti are somewhat similar. And some people even call Uzbek hanum “lazy manti”. But this is not quite true, because a too lazy man does not make hanum. Yet Uzbek hanum is hanum. This dish is original. The filling for Uzbek food hanum is different: vegetables or meat. There are also differences in the cutting of the filling. For example, in Tashkent the stuffing for hanum is often cut into small strips, and in the Fergana Valley – cubes. In Tashkent, the hostesses add to the stuffing the grated carrots, making it brighter and more distinctive. Hanum Uzbek dish can be in the form of rose flowers, it is called “gul-hanum”, which is translated from Uzbek “flower hanum”.


Samsa is considered to be the most popular product from a dough in Uzbekistan and also throughout Central Asia. The only dish that may argue about the popularity with it is perhaps a pastrill. Just imagine: A motley aisle of traders in the Tashkent bazaar… There is a great amount of trays all around, wrapped with warm blankets, and sellers are vying to give your a rosy samsa. To heighten the effect, they pull out from under the blanket the first one they got caught and breaking open it directly on your disbelieving eyes. And from there a cloud of fragrant steam reveals and juice sprays. And inside, like a precious treasure in the box are the pieces of juicy meat, slice of steamed dumbo with transparent swirls of onions. Famously having sprinkled all this treasure with pepper, a satisfied seller is looking at your reaction with laughing eyes. And a drawl-romping calling: “Zookaz-soomsa!” is spreading out over the heads. Which samsa is considered to be the most correct and most classic is not even worth of arguing, because it is so different. It can be of round, triangular, rectangular, square shape. Samsa of a small, medium or huge size is of Jizzakh city. That one made of plain or puff pastry, with a variety of fillings, steam, triple or quadruple, fried or baked… But what makes samsa to be samsa rather than an ordinary pie that is the onions and mutton fat. Whatever the filling may be, however, these two components are required. And let those supporters of healthy eating sitting on diets not frown, as it was scientifically proved that samsa is absolutely a “correct” product. Natural fat in it is the very “good” cholesterol, which makes our blood vessels not to become brittle and not one that remains on the walls in the form of plaques. In addition, having been cooked traditionally in a tandoor (a special oven in the East), this dish is practically a diet made steamed. Not for nothing samsa has so many fans; this food has not lost its relevance nowadays, when everywhere you can find taverns, where the notorious foreign fast food is sold. The flow of guests does not decrease in the cafes and tea houses, where they cook a good tandoor samsa. To try this delicacy groups of people come at lunchtime, companies in the evenings and even families on weekends. That is quite understandable, because samsa baked in the tandoor, has a distinctive flavor and unique memorable taste. Unfortunately, having a tandoor is a luxury in our apartment buildings, but an inventive hostess manages to treat the households with a favorite food even in apartments. Fortunately, there is a great deal of recipes of samsa.


You may disagree, but shurpa is the most favorite dish in Central Asia. Well, judge for yourself, each a provincial tea-house as well as a very pathos restaurant shurpa is being cooked the whole day round. Neither pilaf, no lagman, not even kabob, but namely shurpa, which by its popularity and practicality left far behind almost every dish of ethnic cuisine. In the East shurpa is used to be a significant dish. It seems to be absolutely simple, however do not be in a hurry, that is not such a way. Shurpa is a culinary convertible, as with a change in certain ingredients it can be: curative, restorative, stimulating and even a good relaxant. Do you need examples? Please, get them… A very bold and hot shurpa prepared of lamb helps to heal anemia, rheumatism, pneumonia, tuberculosis; a lean beef shurpa on herbs will be useful for ulcer. A postoperative patients are recommended to eat a sparsely shurpa with mashed vegetables. A hot and spicy shurpa stimulates potency. This food is also provided in maternity cases, when milk comes bad. It may seem that all this is simply an advertising idea. Not at all, look at in the Canon of Medicine of Abu Ali Ibn Sina and see it for yourself. And this is a modern surveillance of shurpa beneficial effects on human health. Nothing is capable to strengthen the nervous system after an economic crisis like the looking at your neighbors – oligarch eating a delicious shurpa at the next table in your favorite inexpensive cafe. Shurpa is the best way to overcome the social contradictions, because almost everybody, regardless of the age, gender and financial status, loves it. And there is something else, especially for men. Did you know that the morning after a noisy holiday, instead of pills of alkozelttser, it is much better to dine with a hot oily and spicy shurpa. Complete cure is not guaranteed, but organism occurs a significant relief immediately, as knowledgeable people say… For such properties for this dish I suggest to declare shurpa to be considered the treasure of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as the country in the whole – a spa resort, and take the additional money for entrance into its territory. Of course this is a joke… So what is shurpa? If you believe the dry language of academic definitions, shurpa – is a kind of filling soup, popular in the East, characterized by a high fat content, the presence of large-size cut vegetables and the abundance of spices and herbs, with the addition of fruit. There are two types of this dish in Uzbekistan, which differ in the way of preparation:
-Kaurma – is a fried shurpa, where the basic ingredients are: meat, onion, carrot, pre-fried in a cauldron, and only then water is added. Then it all is cooked until being ready with plenty of spices and herbs;
-Kaynatma – is a boiled shurpa. In this embodiment, nothing is fried. Everything is cooked for a long time over a low heat.
It is unnecessarily to say that a dish has hundreds of recipes, differing in composition of ingredients, depending on time of year, region of residence and affiliations of cooks. And they all have a right to exist. I would like to tell you one of the most popular recipes. Buy at the market (where meat is fresh) 500grams of lamb. It will be better to find ribs with a slight touch of fat. 100 grams of yellow Asian pea (nuhat, nohat, chickpeas). We soaked it for sale, but you will have to soak it in a warm water at the rate of 2 / 1 (it swells much) in the evening, in case you intend to cook the next day. Two large onions, a couple of medium carrots, 4-5 potatoes, 2 pieces of tomatoes, 2 pieces of Bulgarian pepper, one head of garlic, a small turnip of shalgan, 50 grams of vegetable oil. Of spices choose: Zira (cumin), coriander, red chili peppers (ground), salt. Herbs: cilantro, dill, parsley. Heat a vegetable oil in a cauldron and fry a minced lamb in batches with one onion, which is cut into half rings. Fry it all until a golden brown. Then add the spices and salt it up to taste. Fill it with a boiling water at a rate of 2 cups per serving (this is important: in the process of cooking the water can not be added or diminished). Wait until it boils and skim. Put the second bulb, cut into four pieces, garlic cloves, peas (water should be pre-merge), and carrots chopped into cubes 1x3cm. All this should be cooked on low heat during an hour. An hour later add peeled tomatoes, that are cut into six pieces, Bulgarian pepper, cut into four pieces and peeled turnips in full ( finally, it will be thrown. Although it depends on taste, many people like it). All this should be ​​boiled for another half an hour up to nuhat readiness. Be sure to try the salt and pepper, if needed, add more. After half an hour, put the potatoes cut a large size as well as the rest of vegetables, cook until it’s done. Five minutes before the end, add cutting greens. After turning off the heat, give let the dish stay for 10-15 minutes. This is the most difficult moments of waiting, but it is necessarily for the meal to reach readiness.

Tuhum – Barrack

That is one of the oldest and native Uzbek dishes. Today it can be tasted in Khorezm, Bukhara, Khiva cities and also in the rest of the region. It is less common and almost is not prepared at food service locations. They say, in ancient time tuhum-barrack was a “secret weapon” of Khan and used to be prepared before the ruler decides to visit his harem. Literal direct translation of the name of this dish is: “tuhum”- egg, “barrack”- to cook. “What could be simpler than a boiled egg?” – You say and you get a finger into the sky, because it all is not so simple in the Uzbek cuisine. Actually, the name of the food stands just a way of its cooking – boiling, and the dish itself is the envelopes filled with egg, slightly similar to dumplings. Again, I see your confusion, but have patience, it really is not that simple. The trick lies in the fact that the envelopes is not filled with a boiled egg, as you had time to think, but with the moist one. A further task is complicated by the fact that the envelopes are made ​​in large quantities. But it is impossible to store the already filled envelopes, because it will flow. Imagine the professionalism of the “Osh-poz” and the speed he works with, when he needs to do, cook and serve meals, which appearance would not have any flaws. That is a real circus, and you say: simply a “boiled egg!” Probably, you already want to try tuhum-barrack. Be sure, you really like, after infinite “fast foods”, smoked, grilled and marinated delicacies, a simple unpretentious food may seem like the most delicious treat in the whole world.

Euroasia Travels

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