Uzbek cuisine is influenced through local agriculture, as in most nations. Breads and noodles are of immense importance. Moreover the Uzbek cuisine has been characterized as a ‘’noodle-rich’’ cuisine due to grain farming in Uzbekistan having a great deal of importance. Sheep being in abundance in the country therefore mutton stands as a popular variety of meat and is included in various Uzbek dishes. The national Uzbek cuisine has formed into a unique oriental cuisine as it is influenced by diverse cultures that have been brought here as a result of various nations conquering Central Asia.
Flour, meat (usually mutton), fat of a sheep’s tail, vegetables, herbs and spices, and, in almost all food, a considerable amount of oil of different sorts – that of cottonseed, sesame or sunflower, which make Uzbek food highly nourishing and rich in calories, are the basic ingredients of the ever famous Uzbek cuisine. Pork is never used in the Uzbek cuisine. Some dishes are only cooked by male members while the rest are cooked by females. The preparation of some dishes is related to public holidays, festivals as well as important events and rituals.
In the whole of Central Asia, this cuisine stands as the cuisine being the most savory and tasty. So much that only the mention of the dishes contained in this cuisine bring one’s mouth to water. Dishes such as plov, manti, shurpa, shashlik, lagman, samsa have such a wonderful and enchanting aroma that one can’t resist the temptation to taste all these dishes piping hot.
Most of the recipes contained in the Uzbek cuisine relate to a centuries-old history which is why the process of the preparation of these dishes is accompanied by various rituals, which have reached the present day time. All these specific Uzbek peculiarities of the Uzbek cuisine have been forming and developing for centuries.
Herbs and spices, such as coriander, zira (zra, kumin), barberries, sesame, basil (raihon), and others, are special features of Uzbek food, some of them whetting your appetite, and others having curative effect. Katik (sour milk, classic yogurt, also spelled katyk, qatiq, qatyq) is also a common ingredient in Uzbek food, together with the summer radish, which is not so pungent as the black radish, and even sweet if cooked with carrot in oil.
Special devices and utensils used for cooking dishes of the Uzbek cuisine:
The dishes of the Uzbek cuisine are often cooked with the use of special devices and kitchen utensils:
- Kaskan (steamer): Some of the Uzbek dishes, such as manty and khanuma (other notable uzbek national dishes), acquire their original taste only if steamed in a special pot.
- Tandir oven (also spelled tandyr, tandoor: Is a Central Asian clay oven. Tandir is handmade and has the form of a huge clay jug, placed vertically or horizontally. Horizontal tandirs are used for baking traditional Uzbek bread, while vertical ones are more suitable for samsa pasties.
- Kazan: Is a cast-iron cauldron with thick walls. There are a number of Uzbek dishes that can be cooked only in a kazan over an open fire, for it retains heat well and distributes it evenly.
The national tableware, in which food is traditionally served, includes:
- Kosa eating bowl (also spelled kasa, kese, qosa, qasa). Usually used for shurpa – a delicious soup made of meat and vegetables; lagman and norin, noodle-based dishes
- Lagan, a large dish decorated with traditional painting for serving pilaf, manty, dimlama (a meat and vegetable stew) and various kebab
- Piala, a small kosa for tea – green tea is the national hot beverage taken throughout the day.
Traditional teahouses in Uzbekistan are very popular. They are called Chaikhanas and have a very important cultural presence. Tea is taken without milk or sugar. Moreover, green or black tea always accompanies a meal. As a sign of hospitality, tea and oriental sweets are offered to every guest.
Traditions relating to the Uzbek cuisine
It a tradition in Uzbekistan to have meals on the floor, or in the summer, on a topchan (a large wooden bed of a particular shape), on which they put a table that is short legged and cover it with a dustarkhan (tablecloth); most often they manage without the table by simply spreading the dustarkhan on the floor or on a topchan. Kurpachas (kurpacha is a traditional Central Asian thick cotton-wool blanket / mattress) are put around the dustarkhan, along with cushions so that guests can have a little rest after a nourishing meal.
National Uzbek food is the separate layer of culture of Uzbek people. The Uzbek people were always a settled nation unlike their neighboring countries, which cultivated agriculture and cattle raising. Uzbek people raised vegetables, fruits and cereals at their fertile valleys. They also bred cattle which were the source of meat, of which the abundance can be seen in most dishes. Undoubtedly, Uzbek food imbibed some culinary traditions of Turkic, Kazakh, Uigur, Tajik, Tatar, Mongolian and other neighboring nations, settled on the territory of Central Asia.
Dishes containing pastry and sour milk take an important place in the Uzbek food. This Uzbek food is characterized with the wide use of meat: mutton, beef and horse meat. Different regions of the country tend to cook in their own way. In the northern areas, more preference is given to plov, roasted meat, pastry and lepeshka (bread). On the south people prepare wide variety of complex dishes of rice and vegetables and also make excellent desserts.
Uzbeks generally prefer eating with their hands while sitting on the floor or at a low heighted table – dastarkhan (as mentioned above). The table, at the start, is served with sweets and fruits and later served with vegetables and salads. Then comes the turn of soups including savory shurpa, thicj masatava etc. then comes the main dishes that include the ever famous manti, lagman, shashlik and plov. Uzbek food is majorly one of the most important sights of Uzbekistan, which will become the origin for all gourmets.
Uzbek food – Uzbekistan restaurants and cafes:
A list of recommended restaurants in main tourist centers of Uzbekistan. General description of Uzbekistan restaurants, food, photos and review.
- Tashkent restaurants
- Samarkand restaurants
- Bukhara restaurants
- Khiva restaurants
- Nukus restaurants
Dishes of the Uzbek cuisine:
It is not only the natural, fresh and salutary ingredients, special kitchen utensils or traditional ways of having a meal that makes the Uzbek cuisine so original and attractive, but the famous, infinite Central Asian hospitality! Below are some of Uzbek’s most famous dishes.
Dishes similar to plov consisting of rice, meat, onions and carrots may be found all over the globe but, however delicious, they are not the real treat.
To taste this genuine wonder of eastern cuisine you have to go to Uzbekistan, where delicious aromas abound and wonderful recipes have been developed and perfected over the centuries. Uzbek plov is famous, a favorite of tourists, and chefs vie to prove that their recipe is the best. Plov is known and loved throughout Central Asia, but it is Uzbekistan where it originates originally and where the best varieties are to be found. Here plov accompanies momentous events from birthdays to holidays, anniversaries, weddings, family reunions, wakes etc.
Traditional Uzbek breads
Bread is highly esteemed by Asian people. Children in Asia are taught to revere bread from early childhood. In Uzbekistan there are a lot of rites and rituals connected with traditional Uzbek breads (locals call it non, patir or lepeshka in Russian). For instance, a person setting off on a long travel must eat a small piece of bread, while the rest of the loaf is kept until he returns. There is an engagement ritual of ‘breaking of bread’ (it cannot be cut as, according to a belief, the knife may hurt the bread), which is performed to confirm an agreement between parents upon a marriage between their children. The most serious vows are also spoken on bread, as for Asians there is nothing worse in the world than to break such a vow.
Samosa (also spelled samsa, somsa, samoosa, sambosak, sambusa, singada, samuza, somasi, somas) is an Uzbek food consisting of flaky pasties with various fillings, both served at ceremonies and eaten in an everyday life. Samosa may have different shapes and forms and be cooked in a multiplicity of ways. Today’s samosa is usually filled with meat (mutton, chicken or beef), vegetables (pumpkin, potato or onion), mushrooms, eggs, peas, herbs or even sweet substances. However, as in most of the Uzbek dishes, it is the spices, such as zira (zra, kumin), black and red hot pepper, and sesame (covering samosa on the top), that make the taste of the pasties really unique.
Shurpa (also spelled shourpa, shorwa, shorpo, сhorba, shorba, shorpa, shorpo, sorpa) is a rich and thick soup that will help you enhance your physical power and regain strength if you have lost it, ranks among the foremost first-course dishes of the Uzbek cuisine. There are two main types of this dish – kaynatma shurpa and kovurma shurpa, which differ mainly in the way of their preparation; however, there actually is a great variety of recipes of cooking shurpa, as each region of Uzbekistan prides itself upon its own specificities and secrets.
Kazy is a sausage-like food made of horse meat, delicately aromatic and incredibly delicious. Kazy is a homemade sausage never produced on a large scale to be sold in supermarkets or exported as other sausages are. Kazy does not contain any chemical additives. The sausage is made of horse meat and fat, with the addition of spices – black pepper, garlic, zira and others, all these being packed in horse intestines (a natural product). Usually, kazy is made of the fat meat from the ribs.