Dishes to taste in Uzbekistan should be on your bucket list as a traveller to this wonderful nation. They certainly were on my list of priorities as an Indian traveller.
First things first. Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians can happily eat good food in Uzbekistan with out having to starve themselves. In fact, if there’s one nation that is an absolute foodie’s delight, it is Uzbekistan.
I’ve travelled solo a while ago and have sumptuously enjoyed the dishes of Uzbekistan. Now it is my absolute pleasure to share them with all you wonderful people.
13 Wondrous Dishes to Taste in Uzbekistan
As a first time traveller to the beautiful country of Uzbekistan, I highly suggest that you try the following 13 dishes.
|4. Lagman Noodles|
|8. Khalva and Navat|
|12. Grape and apricot compote|
|13.Uzbek Green Tea|
Plov is the national obsession of Uzbekistan. No menu exists without the word ‘Plov’ on it. Therefore, as a traveller you should surely include it in your list of dishes to taste in Uzbekistan.
I first tasted Plov in Tashkent on day one of my solo trips and thereafter it was a part of at least one of my daily meals. The dish comprises rice, meat, chickpeas, onions, raisins and grated carrots cooked in vegetable oil. So the dish is a bit greasy but tastes super delish. It is topped with a boiled egg.
While talking to waiters and cooks, I learnt a difference between the Plov eaten in different cities – while the Plov in Tashkent, Samarkand and Khiva uses yellow carrots, the one in Bukhara has red ones.
All Samosa lovers around the world and especially in my country (India) would be glad to try this snack. A Somsa is essentially a flaky pasty. The dish came to India from Uzbekistan. In India, it goes by name of Samosa.
The filling can be of vegetables or meat. Although the process of making Somsa is the same as that as of the Samosa in India, the texture and taste of the filling varies. Also, the shape is not necessarily triangular.
Uzbeks are big meat eaters. They consume a lot of beef, lamb and chicken. Shashlik is very popular and should surely be a part of your list of dishes to taste in Uzbekistan.
A lot of travellers confuse the Shashlik with Seekh Kebab. Both might look similar but vary in the way that one is skewered and the other is not.
4. Lagman Noodles
On every menu, you would find Lagman noodles in Uzbekistan. It’s a soup dish comprising noodles, meat and vegetables. Lagman Noodles are very common and popular around cities across Uzbekistan.
Two main types of Lagman Noodles are prepared in Uzbekistan. One is the Cut Lagman and the other is the Stretching Lagman. Both these should be a part of your dishes to taste in the Uzbekistan list.
Manti is a special kind of dumpling that is savoured along with Lagman Noodles. In fact, most travellers order these two dishes together. This dish actually came to Uzbekistan from China and later spread to other European nations.
Manti is consumed with bare clean hands and not cutlery. They’re usually consumed during supper or even for lunch.
When I was in Tashkent, the host there had highly recommended a dish known as Djiz in Bukhara.
Djiz is a meat dish that mostly uses beef but can be lamb too. I found it on the menu of all good restaurants in Bukhara. However, all were available with beef so I had to skip tasting it.
If you’re comfortable with eating beef, you should most certainly taste it.
Although it was autumn when I was in Uzbekistan, the days were quite hot. Hence, a fruity, cold beverage called Ichimlik was being sold in the markets. I got the opportunity to consume it in Tashkent.
Nothing beats the heat in Uzbekistan than this refreshing drink to rejuvenate you.
8. Khalva and Navat
Sweets are an integral part of Uzbek food. The most famous ones are Khalva and Navat. Khalva is prepared from wheat flour, sugar and nuts. Navat is the boiled crystal grape sugar with spices.
A lot of travellers take Navat back home as a souvenir from Uzbekistan. I’ve written an entire post on the 19 rare souvenirs to buy in Uzbekistan. Food items are a part of that special list.
Lepeshka is the Uzbek term for Bread in Uzbekistan. It also goes by the name Non. Bread is sacred in Uzbekistan and is sold in plenty. It acts as a dish on its own as well as an accompaniment.
I don’t think people bake at home or in restaurants. They seem to buy from the dozens of vendors selling oven-fresh bread every morning, evening and throughout the day.
I remember, how one evening, I saw the women in Samarkand get loads of hot loaves wrapped in big sheets of cloth to be sold along the market pavement. In Tashkent, I saw rows of wheel-barrow like carts selling only bread.
It’s baked in a big clay oven called Tondur. You would find vendors selling “designer” breads in different shapes and sizes. A decent sized fluffy round Lepeshka costs around 15000 Soms.
Designer because of the different designs they like to have carved on the bread – various geometric patterns and also initials of their name. The design on these bread happens to be due to a bread stamp. As a traveller, you can buy it as a souvenir in Uzbekistan.
A loaf of bread should ideally never be cut by a knife but by hand and then eaten. Also, it should not be placed upside down. Both seem to bring bad luck, as per the folklore.
Round balls of condensed sour milk seasoned with pepper and salt are known as Kurt in Uzbekistan. They are called Kurt locally. However, as travellers, we may want to refer to them as Uzbek cheese balls.
A very talkative taxi driver one day, while taking me to a Sufi Shrine, stopped a while to buy a very popular snack for me to taste. Since he spoke only Uzbek, I figured on my own what they were made of and that was my stint with these cheese balls for the first time.
11. Anor Juice
Juice composed of rich nutritional Pomegranates is a must have beverage in Uzbekistan. Anor, as it is locally called is found everywhere – either as a whole fruit sold in the markets or in the form of juice in restaurants.
The fascination for Anor is so much that is even crafted as embroidery on stoles or painted on ceramic pottery and papier machie. It qualifies as a national symbol for the country, if it already is not. The Anors in Uzbekistan were the best pomegranates that I’ve ever had – juicy and blood red seeds.
I first saw big and crimson red pomegranates being sold in heaps in Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent and thereafter in every city of Uzbekistan that I visited.
12. Grape and Apricot compote
Grape and apricot compote is served at every breakfast in Uzbekistan. You could live on it literally. Actually fruits in Uzbekistan are available in plenty at very reasonable rates.
Pomegranates, grapes and melons being the most popular in the season that I travelled. Eaten as whole or in salads, fruits form a part of most meals.
Interesting to note that, almost every house has a grapevine in its front yard. Probably, to protect them from harsh sun rays and render a close-to-nature look to the house.
13. Uzbek Green Tea
Uzbeks drink a lot of tea. Whenever I would go out to restaurants, I would see locals eating their meal along with or immediately followed by a pot of tea. Mostly green tea. No milk.
The ceramic crockery it’s served in, looks very pretty in hues of white and blue, the most popular combination. The places I stayed in also would serve tea very often starting from the time I arrived and throughout the day.
Tea in the morning used to be served with an assortment of nuts and fruits.
Last but not the least, I would like to talk about dry fruits, a variety of seeds and sweetmeats that the local bazaars are full of. People consume them as snacks at any time of the day.
So, overall I give a big thumbs up to the food of Uzbekistan. I’ve had my fill and can’t wait to re-visit again and connect with the culinary flavour. I hope my list of dishes to taste in Uzbekistan comes in handy for you as a traveller. Go visit Uzbekistan and write your own food story.