Traveler’s Guide: Uzbek Traditional Cuisine

Uzbek cuisine is influenced by local agriculture, as in most nations. There is a great deal of grain farming in Uzbekistan, so breads and noodles are of importance, and Uzbek cuisine has been characterized as “noodle-rich”. Mutton is a popular variety of meat due to the abundance of sheep in the country and it is a part of various Uzbek dishes. Let’s take a closer look for the most famous dishes in the region.


Plov or Osh is  the Uzbek version of “pilaff”, the flagship of cookery. It consists mainly of fried and boiled lamb meat, onions, carrots and rice; with raisins, barberries, chickpeas, or fruit added for variation. Uzbek men pride themselves on their ability to prepare the most unique and sumptuous plov. The Oshpaz, or master chief, often cooks plov over an open flame, sometimes serving up to 1000 people from a single couldron on holidays or occasions such as weddings. It certainly takes years of practice with no room for failure to prepare a dish, at times, containing up to 100 kilograms of rice.


The traditional Uzbek lagman is more like a noodle soup with all sorts of vegetables and potatoes in it. It’s often flavored with dill. However, Uzbeks do have other varieties of lagman like “kovurma lagman”, which resembles the Uyghur version (noodles with a sauce on top), and many restaurants sell Uyghur-style laghman as well. Some people personally much prefers laghman with a sauce topping rather than in a soup.


In Uzbekistan, there are so many ways to cook shashlik or kebab/kabob can be made of lamb, beef or chicken. It can be made of whole or ground meat. Cooks can also add some vegetables to make your meat even juicier and flavorful. The main secret of delicious “Kabob-Shashlik” is lamb’s tail fat and the marination. There are different recipes of marination-yogurt with spices, sprinkling water with spices, vinegar with spices and etc. can be used for marination.


In Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang, samosas are known as samsas. They are almost always baked and never fried. The traditional samsa is often baked in the tandyr, which is a special clay oven. The dough can be a simple bread dough, or a layered pastry dough. The most common filling for traditional samsa is a mixture of minced lamb and onions, but chicken, minced beef, and cheese varieties are also quite common from street vendors. Samosas with other fillings, such as potato or pumpkin (usually only when in season), can also be found. In Central Asia, samsas (samosas) are often sold on the streets as a hot snack. They are sold at places, where only samosas are made, or alternatively, at kiosks where other fast foods (such as hamburgers) are sold.


Shorva, shorpa or meat broth with potatoes – one of the beloved soups in Uzbekistan. This kind of soups is made of large pieces of fatty meat (usually mutton), potatoes and fresh vegetables. Shorpa is a starter dish, usually opens a big fests for greetings guests on all kind of social events.


Manti – a big steamed ravioli alike dish, simple and tasty. Special thin dough is   stuffed with mutton and onions, or pumpkin fillings. It is a very excellent dish is steamed via Mantikazan, a special manufacturer of steamed dough dishes like manti and khanum.


Beshbarmak literally means “five fingers” due to the way it used to be eaten. It originates from the nomadic peoples of Central Asia, and nowadays this type of dish is enjoyed all across the region: as beshbarmak by the Kazakhs, Kygryz, Tatars, and Bashkirs, as turama or dograma in Karakalpakstan and Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Truly a pan-Central Asian dish!


Chuchvara – small ravioli stuffed with mutton or beef with onions and herbs. They differentiate between other national dishes by their unusual shapes. this dish is prepared on the occasion of the wedding or the celebration of national holidays as Navruz. It’s like the business card of the Uzbek cuisine.


Non – the wide and round bread that accompanies every meal and eaten preferably hot. We can find delicious breads in the markets. There are different types of bread for each origin country. For example Samarkand bread can weigh up to one kilogram. Still, unlike in Tashkent, it is lighter than the others. But each loaf of any origin taste unrepeatable and unforgettable. Because while eating you can feel the goodness of people.


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