Food & Beverage

Particularly distinctive and well developed feature of Uzbek culture — its cuisine. Unlike nomad neighbors, Uzbek people had strong and settled civilization for centuries. Among the deserts and mountains, oases and fertile valleys, people grew wheat and tamed cattle. As a result, abundance of various foodstuffs let the Uzbek people express a unique hospitality tradition, which in its turn enriched the cuisine.

Seasons, especially winter and summer, make an influence on the main menu. In summer fruits, vegetables nut are available everywhere. Fruits in Uzbekistan grow in abundance — grapes, melons, watermelons, apricots, pears, apples, quinces, persimmons, peaches, cherries, pomegranates, lemons and figs. So are the vegetables, including some less known kinds of green radish, yellow carrots,  gourd family, in addition to the usual eggplants, peppers, turnips, cucumbers and juicy tomatoes.

Winter diet traditionally consists of dried fruits and vegetables, canned food. Noodles and different kind of pasta dishes — also a common food in a cool season.

Mainly a lamb preferred source of protein in the Uzbek cuisine. Rams are highly valued not only for its meat and rump (source of fat in cooking), but also for its wool. Uzbek dishes are not so spicy, but rather piquant. Here are some spices, used in cooking: black cumin, red and black pepper, barberries, coriander, sesame seeds and most popular herbs are parsley (fresh coriander), dill, celery and basil. Other seasonings include wine vinegar, separately added to salads and marinades, and fermented milk products. Lots of varieties of bread is a key element in food for the majority of the population. Flat bread or “Non”, usually caked in clay ovens (Tandyr), and served with tea, no saying about other dishes. Some kinds of “non” prepared with meat or onions, some get sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Central Asia has a reputation for the richness and delicacy of its fermented dairy products. The most predominant are katyk, or yogurt made from sour milk, and suzma, strained clotted milk similar to cottage cheese, which are eaten plain, in salads, or added to soups and main dishes, resulting in a unique and delicious flavor.

Plov or Osh, the Uzbek version of «pilaff» («pilav»), is the flagship of Uzbek cookery. It consists mainly of fried and boiled meat, onions, carrots and rice; with raisins, barberries, chickpeas, or fruit added for variation. Uzbek men pride themselves on their ability to prepare the most unique and sumptuous plov. The oshpaz, or master chef, often cooks plov over an open flame, sometimes serving up to 1000 people from a Single cauldron on holidays or occasions such as weddings. It certainly takes years of practice with no room for failure to prepare a dish, at times, containing up to 100 kilograms of rice.

Tea is revered in the finest of oriental traditions. It is offered first to any guest and there exists a whole subset of mores surrounding the preparation, offering and consumption of tea. Green tea is the drink of hospitality and predominates. Black tea is preferred in Tashkent, though both teas are seldom taken with milk or sugar. An entire portion of their food culture is dedicated solely to tea drinking. Some of these include samsa, bread, halva, and various fried foods.

The «chaykhana» (teahouse) is a cornerstone of traditional Uzbek society. Always shaded, preferably situated near a cool stream, the chaykhana 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 plov, kebab and endless cups of green tea.