Uzbek and Kyrgyz Food

On BTSA tours, we will learn about the cuisine as well as the polite Uzbek way of dining. We’ll eat delicious food everywhere, and learn about the local cuisine in a cooking demonstration. Skewers of grilled chicken or ground beef are popular and delicious, as are grilled vegetable skewers, salads, and dishes such as pilaf or plov. Made with either beef or lamb, plov is claimed as the national dish by several countries in the region. It’s served at lunchtime, and dished out from enormous cauldrons. Every cook claims a different and delicious plov recipe, but main ingredients are rice, slivers of onion and yellow and orange carrots, chick peas, raisins and cumin.

Vegetarians will have no trouble eating well in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. In addition to the grilled vegetables, fresh salads such as grated carrots or beets with walnuts, or tomato and cucumber are popular and found in most restaurants. Delicious and refreshing cold yogurt soup with fresh dill and parsley is a common starter.

Bread is divine, plentiful, and considered sacred by Uzbeks. The traditional round and flat bread, called non or lepeshka, is baked in a tandoor (round wood-fired clay oven), after which it comes out toasted and crispy. Bread of each region has its own particular method of leavening, its own baking techniques and its own inimitable taste. For instance, delicious flaky bread – katlama non – typifies the Fergana Valley version. Some savory lepeshkas are prepared with onion or meat baked inside the dough.

Traditionally Uzbek dinner guests never cut bread with a knife. At the start of the meal, the youngest person breaks the bread into pieces by hand and places it on the table near each place setting. And they take care not to be disrespectful by setting the loaf upside down on the table. 
Desserts are much loved by the Uzbeks, resulting in a large variety. Many are similar to Turkish specialties like baklava with pistachios or walnuts.

Giant Samosas, with roast chicken and salads for lunch in Tashkent.

Author Profile

About The Author: Cynthia Samake

Cynthia began “Behind the Scenes Adventures” to share the traditional textiles and festivals of far-flung countries. Since 1998 she has led small groups of textile fanatics all over the world. Specializing in indigenous clothing and textiles, and the festival costume of Bolivia. You can read more of her writing in Piecework and Fiber Arts Now. Her new book, Textile Traveler’s Guide to Peru and Bolivia was published by Thrums Press in 2019.

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