‘VODKA, PLOV AND NON’: THE 12 BEST UZBEK FOOD EXPERIENCES.

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We didn’t know anything about Uzbek food before we arrived. Clearly we have stepped up to become dedicated experts of Uzbek BREAD during our stay… And we have sampled our fair share of plov, kebabs, and Uzbek vodka… What about the rest? 

The entrance to Chorsu Bazaar. Off to stock up on Uzbek food for our train ride to Nukus.
The entrance to Chorsu Bazaar and our first day out sampling Central Asian food… we were hooked!

If you are travelling to Central Asia you are in luck – the food is different, diverse and a cool learning curve! Here are some of our favourites, and what we reckon would be a fair rating…

1. PLOV

On our first day in Tashkent we were introduced to ‘Plov’. Aside from bread, this is the staple Uzbek food dish. It is similar to Indian pilaf, but the term ‘plov’ covers all of Central Asia, with each region having their own variation.

Uzbek plov is cooked with rice, fresh mutton or beef, carrot, chickpeas, raisins, onions and vegetable oil. And it’s delicious! 

An enormous cauldron of Plov cooking at the Plov Centre in Tashkent.

The size of the plov cauldrons is unbelievable. There are five on the go at once so they can serve 500 people at a time!

A dish of Plov served up at the Plov Centre.

2. UZBEK BREAD

We had heard about the famed bread of Uzbekistan before we came, and confess it was high on our list ‘to do’ on day one… By tradition, when someone leaves the house on a long journey he should take a bite of bread and the remaining loaf will be hung and kept until his return. 

Uzbek bread at Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent.

3. SHAKARAP 

We loved how each table is laid for a mealtime! There are so many dishes, and each dish is shared. This was just a roadside restaurant, but the table is immediately given bread to share, and Shakarap – a salad prepared with tomato, onion – and (in the Pepsi bottle) a vinegar dressing. Coffee is always black, and usually pre-mixed with sugar. There are no knives on the table. And each setting has a water glass and a small glass… for vodka! 

4. VODKA

This had to be added to the blog about Uzbek food as it features a lot on mealtime tables in Uzbekistan. Imagine ordering a whole bottle of vodka for the dinner table at a New Zealand restaurant… It is standard here, and a bottle of vodka costs about $4.50 NZD ($2.90 USD).

5. KABOB 

Amazing! Kabob became a staple part of our hunt for eateries while travelling Uzbekistan. I especially recommend the restaurant Lyabi Hauz in Bukhara, right by the lake, for the best kabob we found.

6. HALVA 

A delicious desert, and it looks so beautiful on display at the markets. Halva is made from sugar syrup, egg whites, and sesame seeds

Piles of Halva at the market. Halva is one of the tastiest Uzbek foods we tried.

7. SHOH TUT JUICE 

A berry juice, made from freshly squeezed berries – similar to blackberries, but the tree is huge. We loved this! It even felt healthy! People drink it for healthy blood. 

8. KATYK 

The kids loved this! Katyk is a sour-milk yogurt, similar to Greek yoghurt. It is served with lunch in a big jug, made up to a drinkable consistency. (And it’s slightly sour, so we were surprised the kids enjoyed it – but they did!).

9. CHALOB

A shared milk drink with onion and herbs. One bowl for the table and is passed around to accompany lunch (that in itself makes it an ‘interesting’ dish!).

Shared bowl of chalob.

9. BARAK 

Yum! We all loved these! Barak is a fried Uzbek dumpling.

Trying different Uzbek foods in Samarkand.
Happy with a plate full of dumplings?!

10. KHIVA MILK BREAD 

Another style of flatbread, made with milk as well as water to give it a slightly smoother, creamy taste. Perfectly matched to the beautiful surroundings! 

Afternoons in the setting sun at Khiva go perfectly with flat bread.

11. QURUT  

❌ I can’t even fake it; these are one thing we really didn’t like. Qurut are sold like treats at the market, and you can buy a small bag to eat as a snack. They are literally fermented, sour yoghurt balls. 😬 A no from us! 

Qurut balls at the market in Samarand. One kind of Uzbek food we did not like as much!
Balls of kurut at Samarkand Bazaar….

12. DRIED FRUIT

✔️✔️✔️✔️
The markets in Central Asia are amazing for their selection of dried fruits and nuts. Head upstairs at Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent for an entire floor dedicated to dried fruits and nuts.

Upstairs at Chorsu Bazaar. We were all about the sampling!

MEALTIMES IN UZBEKISTAN

Mealtimes are a special part of experiencing Uzbek food. We treasured the times we shared a meal with a family, or were welcomed into the homes of locals wherever we found ourselves.

Breakfasts are huge, and comprise of fresh fruit (especially melons and grapes), fresh bread, salami/sausage meat, cheese, and yoghurts. [Except for the time our driver surprised the boys and carried chocolate cereal all the way out to the Aral Sea for them!].

Happy campers eating breakfast on the shore of the Aral Sea.

Sharing a meal with our Uzbek family, out in the hills of Urgut at a roadside restaurant.

The best of memories!

READ MORE ABOUT UZBEKISTAN


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