Uzbek people have been guarding their culinary traditions against external influences for centuries. This nation has strived to preserve the authenticity of recipes and prevent them from being influenced by other ethnic groups. Even common Asian dishes like pilaf, manty, kebabs, and soups have a purely Uzbek way of preparation – they are fried in cauldrons, baked on coals, and in tandirs. Uzbek cuisine is unique and attractive. What are its features and why is a good Uzbek restaurant like “Caravan” always favored by gourmets? Let’s find out below

Uzbek cuisine is unique and attractive. What are its features and why is a good Uzbek restaurant like "Caravan" always favored by gourmets?

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Thanks to the strict preservation of authentic Uzbek culinary traditions, beloved dishes have reached us in their almost unchanged, original form. For example, ancient Uzbek recipes for lagman, manty, and pilaf. Who knows what we would be eating instead today if the Uzbek people had not been principled in defending their culinary identity. Uzbek cuisine is unique and original, and some cooking secrets of certain national dishes are known only to the indigenous inhabitants. They are strictly kept secret and passed down through generations. Distinctive features: richness, lack of side dishes, and mild spiciness. In Uzbekistan, food is very high in calories. Recipes actively use lamb fat and cottonseed oil. Another distinctive feature is the abundance of spices. However, Uzbek cuisine cannot be called particularly spicy or hot, as the large number of herbs and spices is just a fact. If you enjoy interesting combinations of aromatic spices and herbs in your food, this cuisine will appeal to you: the food here is characterized by a rich variety of tastes, smells, and their nuances.

Secret Ingredients

Interestingly, you will hardly find mushrooms in Uzbek dishes. Pork is prohibited for religious reasons. However, this cuisine is rich in a vast number of recipes with lamb, beef, and chicken. Be sure to try kebabs with these types of meat when you get the chance – they are very tasty. Sour milk (katyk) and green radish are also popular. Many people are struck by another feature of the Uzbek culinary tradition: side dishes as a separate concept and category of dishes do not exist here. Grains, cereals, and vegetables are never served separately – they are always part of meat dishes. For example, almost any Uzbek soup recipe invariably includes grain. As for onions, Uzbeks add them literally to all meat dishes. Moreover, they don’t skimp on onions – there is either as much or two to three times more onions than meat in meat dishes. In kebabs, there can never be too much onion. And if you want meat cooked over fire according to traditional Uzbek recipes, order kebabs from us. You will find out what real Uzbek kebabs are and why Caravan restaurants are so popular in the city.

As in all other national cuisines, there are culinary features in different regions of Uzbekistan

Interesting Facts

Uzbek cuisine is the most famous and in-demand among other Central Asian cuisines. Many national Uzbek dishes are widely known and loved far beyond this small country’s borders. Take, for example, pilaf and manty. The main Uzbek dish, and probably the most popular one, is pilaf. There is a legend that attributes the recipe’s authorship to Tamerlane. In Uzbekistan, cooking pilaf is traditionally a male occupation. There are more than 100 recipes for Uzbek pilaf (some say there are about 1,200). Each city has its own traditions of preparing this dish. It is difficult to give precedence to any one: Samarkand, Tashkent, Fergana, or Bukhara. What can I say, pilaf is loved here like nowhere else in the world. It is considered the national dish of Uzbekistan. If this makes you crave shawarma as well, don’t hold back: we will prepare it quickly too, we promise. Despite the steady process of urbanization in Uzbek society, traditional cooking methods in cauldrons and tandirs are still widely used in villages. Uzbek cuisine includes many soups and liquid dishes collectively called shurpa. At the same time, there are very few salads; recipes for such appetizers can be literally counted on fingers.

Geographic and Seasonal Nuances

As in all other national cuisines, there are culinary features in different regions of Uzbekistan. For example, in the north of the country, more pilaf, fried meat, and various dough products are cooked, while in the south, housewives often cook dishes with a long list of ingredients, including vegetables and rice. There are many seasonal dishes:

  • In spring, chuchvara and samsa with greens, dolma with grape leaves, mash and rice soup are prepared;
  • In summer – kebabs with tomatoes, lagman, stuffed peppers, dolma, dimlama – cold soup with sour milk and greens (analogous to our okroshka), steamed kebab, stewed meat, and vegetables;
  • In autumn, fried meat, classic kebab, quail soup, manty, and pilaf prevail;
  • In winter, pilaf, kebab, and soups are at the head of the table.

Cooking Methods

Uzbeks use many methods of processing products. Most often, it is frying. Food is fried in fat in cauldrons, on a grill, or in a tandir. This is how meat, vegetables, and flour products are prepared. Food is boiled in water, milk, or steamed (for this, a special pot called kasan is used). Uzbek soups are prepared interestingly. In addition to the usual onions and carrots, Uzbeks add pumpkin or turnips to the water, often adding mung beans (small beans) to them. Also, a distinctive feature of Uzbek soups is that all ingredients are first fried before boiling. Thanks to this feature, they turn out to be hearty and very rich. In short, Uzbek cuisine is a wealth of hearty aromatic dishes with meat, thick rich soups based on fresh vegetables and herbs, original pastries, and a whole collection of exotic sweets. In addition to over a hundred types of pilaf, this people has about 60 types of soups and 30 types of kebabs. This cuisine deserves attention, be sure to try national Uzbek dishes when you get the chance – you won’t regret it! Farhod and Aziza are waiting for you at “Caravan.”

Manty Manty are finely chopped meat with onions, wrapped in thinly rolled dough, steamed in a kasan. Kebabs Traditional kebabs in Uzbekistan are made from the meat of a young lamb, marinated in spices. Pieces of meat are skewered along with lamb fat. The kebabs are soaked in water, preparing the right marinade based on onions and spices. In restaurants, you can also try other versions of meat dishes:

  • Minced meat kebab – kiyma kebab;
  • Beef kebab – chunk;
  • Chicken kebab – chunk.

Shurpa is an Uzbek first course, a modified soup recipe originally from the Ottoman Empire. Similar dishes with different names exist in other countries. The main difference of this soup from others is a rich meat broth based on fatty lamb, chicken, and beef. For Europeans unaccustomed to such a depth of flavor, shurpa, like other Uzbek soups, seems excessively caloric, hitting all taste receptors at once.

Lagman is meat, vegetables, and long noodles. In our restaurant, it is not cut but pulled by hand. At first glance, hearty and tasty lagman soup is extremely simple. Meat, chuzma noodles (from the Uzbek “chuzmok,” meaning “to pull”), handmade, spices, vegetables – nothing extra and unusual. Uzbek cuisine is thousands of years of history and tradition during which Uzbeks built cities, engaged in sciences, traded with the whole world, sowed grains, planted fruit gardens, vegetables, and raised livestock. Uzbeks have preserved their culinary traditions and culture of their ancestors, while interactions with neighboring peoples have influenced the diversity and richness of their cuisine.

Sunny Flatbreads – Non Non flatbreads – crispy golden crust, soft dough

Sunny Flatbreads – Non Non flatbreads – crispy golden crust, soft dough, and light piquancy given by sesame seeds. This popular Uzbek dish has been preserved in its original form for centuries. Round non flatbreads – like a synonym for the sun – give locals satiety and strength.

Uzbek Sweets for Tea Uzbeks serve sweets with tea and before main dishes. They are placed in beautiful bowls and set on the table in choykhanas. The most popular ones are:

  • Dried fruits: dried apricots, raisins, halva, baklava, honey;
  • Navat – caramelized sugar;
  • Parvarda – caramel pillows with flour sprinkling;
  • Pashmak – sweet flour threads.
Tea is Everything There are countries where coffee is more popular. In Uzbekistan, the main drink is tea

Tea is Everything There are countries where coffee is more popular. In Uzbekistan, the main drink is tea. It is considered that hosts are glad to see guests if they invite them for tea. In addition to tea, compotes made from dried and fresh fruits are also popular.

Photo: Aziza Soatova

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