‘Vodka, Plov and Non’: What we loved most about Uzbek food…
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?
- Plov: ✔️✔️✔️
- Non (bread): ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
- Uzbek Vodka: ✔️✔️✔️
- Barak (fried Dumplings): ✔️✔️✔️
- Qurut (yoghurt balls): ❌
- Kebabs: ✔️✔️
- Show Tut juice: ✔️✔️✔️
- Halva: ✔️✔️✔️
On our first day in Tashkent we were introduced to ‘Plov’. Aside from bread, this is the staple dish of Uzbekistan. 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!
The size of the plov cauldrons was unbelievable. They have five on the go at once, and serve 500 people at a time!
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.
SHAKARAP AND PLOV: ✔️✔️✔️
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!
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).
Amazing! And a staple part of our hunt for eateries while we have been travelling Uzbekistan!
A delicious desert! And it looks so beautiful on display at the markets! Halva is made from sugar syrup, egg whites, and sesame seeds
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.
The kids loved this! It is a sour-milk yogurt, similar to
Greek yoghurt. We kept seeing it served with lunch in a big jug, made up to a drinkable consistency. (It is slightly sour, so we were surprised the kids enjoyed it – but they did!).
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!)
BARAK fried Dumplings): ✔️✔️✔️
Yum! We all loved these!
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!
QURUT (yoghurt balls): ❌
I can’t even fake it; these are one thing we really didn’t like. They are sold like treats at the market, and you can buy a small bag to eat as a snack… we tried hard to give them a go, but they are soured yoghurt balls 😬 A no from us!
DRIED FRUIT: ✔️✔️
The markets in Central Asia are amazing for their selection of dried fruits and nuts!
Mealtimes were special in Uzbekistan. We treasured the times we shared a meal with a family, or were welcomed into the homes of locals wherever we found ourselves. Breakfasts were huge, and comprised 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!].
Breakfast at Topchan Hostel in Tashkent:
Sharing a meal with our Uzbek family, out in the hills of Urgut at a roadside restaurant. The best of memories!