TOP 30: UZBEK CUISINE. PART 2. VEGETARIAN DISHES AND DESSERTS

In the first part of the list of food in Uzbekistan, you can find none without meat. The TOP-10 of national Uzbek food seems to be created for those who cannot imagine life without flavorful and satisfying meat dishes. However, the gastronomic riches’ presentation does not end there. Good news for followers of vegetarianism — in the second TOP-10-part of Uzbek dishes meat is not presented at all. Even more pleasant discoveries wait for the sweet tooth. Today we will present:

  • the most popular salad in Uzbekistan
  • vegetables and fruits (according to household classification, not Botanical)
  • bread like another gastronomic symbol of Uzbekistan
  • dairy products
  • non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages
  • desserts that are prepared for Uzbekistan religious holidays

11 VEGETABLES

Uzbekistan is rich in these delicious vegetables:

  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • eggplants
  • bell peppers
  • potatoes
  • beets
  • cabbages
  • pumpkins
  • radishes

Vegetables are the basis for most famous Uzbek dishes in addition to meat, rice, pasta, and peas. The simple salad with vegetables grown in Uzbekistan gets an unrecognizable different taste and aroma — try it yourself! A long search in the restaurant menu with the necessary description will not happen — achichuk is always in the first place, and is prepared by default even in the places where the “Salads” section is missing!

ACHICHUK

Achichuk is the most popular salad in Uzbekistan, which harmonizes with almost every Uzbek dish: pilaf, manty, shashlik, Lagman, shurpa... Despite the simple recipe — tomatoes with cucumbers and onions, basil is occasionally added and seasoned with salt, achichuk is absolutely yummy. This salad is so surprisingly delicious due to the exclusively organic origin of vegetables that are grown by locals, and the generous sun. Must-have for proper nutrition followers! Uzbek cuisine does not have salads with mayonnaise — this is Russian and European cuisine legacy that has taken root in the country. Vegetables are filled with fermented milk products of local origin, such as ”katyk”, but this is a claim to the title of the independent dish, but copious discussion later. By the way, the pickled vegetables that presented in the restaurants of national dishes also came from Russia; here the fresh salads are more typical.

DESSERTS IN UZBEKISTAN. ORIENTAL SWEETS

12 FRUITS

With what kinds of fruits abound Uzbekistan:

  • apples
  • pears
  • apricots
  • peaches
  • plums
  • grenades
  • persimmons
  • figs

- A scattering of berries — cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, sea buckthorn

- And of course, one more of the Uzbekistan gastronomic symbols — watermelons & melons.

In Uzbekistan, not so long ago, they began to grow lemons — they have a rich taste and smell! Thus began the influence on the tea ceremony. Previously, it was customary to drink it without sugar and milk, but now with a few slices of fresh lemon, it is served in every choykhona!

UZBEK DRIED FRUITS AND NUTS

Uzbek dried fruits are another constant attribute of dastarkhan! In ancient times, they were expensive and considered a luxury gift. It is served before a meal as a snack or light dessert with tea, which is traditionally consumed in Uzbekistan without sugar. This is an element of politeness, so you may be surprised to find vases of nuts and raisins in the reception area of companies or banks.

Raisins and dried apricots, candied almonds, and peanuts have become a popular gift in Uzbekistan for a reason!

Enterprising Uzbek people for the production of dried apricots take out the bones. There was also a wonderful way to use them. So, the local version of beer snacks is ready — this is a delicious treat! Yes, beer is popular in Uzbekistan, but it is sold only in restaurants, bars, and specialty stores. There is also a wonderful wine, but more on that later.

DESSERTS FOR UZBEKISTAN HOLIDAYS

13 SUMALAK

The main dish of the “Eastern New Year” — Navruz holiday is prepared from sprouted wheat, as a symbol of the nature rebirth and new life. Sumalak is supposed to be prepared only in the spring, but now it is sold in stores all year round. According to the canon, in Central Asia Sumalak is prepared for a week — in ancient times, locals gathered together and took turns on duty at the cauldron of impressive size. Sumalak requires attention, constant stirring, so you cannot leave the ripening delicacy even for a minute. The texture is similar to a sticky sweet paste, fans of “Nutella” will definitely like it! They say that the history of Sumalak dates back to the dawn of our world — with such prehistory, it cannot be devoid of the legends veil.  The belief in its healing properties is alive to this day — sumalak during the cooking process absorbs energy, kind words, thoughts, and people songs, thus becoming the quintessence of beneficial energy, which will certainly have a wonderful effect on the physical and mental well-being of everyone. There seems to be no consensus if we talk about the origin of the holiday treat name:

- assumption 1: comes from the word “Suma” which translates as “steamed wheat''

- assumption 2: stands for “Legion of 30 angels”, which gave a wonderful recipe to mankind

14 NISHOLDA. RAMADAN FOOD

Another festive dessert is the snow-white and stringy nisholda, which is also popular among Bukharan Jews and their Central Asian neighbors. Nisholda is prepared for the Holy Ramadan. This is a month of obligatory ritual fasting for Muslims and one of the five Islam pillars. Nisholda is served for “iftar” — the meal is permitted after sunset (but they can eat before sunrise too). It is prepared from sugar, water, lemon juice, egg white, and the root of the plant etmak (soaproot), pretty and fragrant. Etmak gives the mixture an organic jelly consistency.

The 21st century takes its course and for beating, we use a mixer, but previously had always made use of a thin beater under the name “chulchup”. It is important to achieve such a density that the whisk is evenly standing in the whipped mass. The masters have strict evaluation criteria — “properly” prepared nisholda does not delaminate for several days. A cool dessert is served on a festive dastarkhan usually in a bowl and sprinkled with badian, consumed in its purest form. An indescribably delicious treat!

15 HALVAH

Speaking of Oriental sweets, it would be a crime not to mention halvah, which evokes the 1000 and 1 Nights opulent atmosphere — the sweet delight does not need to be presented. Without modesty, halvah is one of the greatest achievements of Oriental confectionery art, whose dense soft consistency resembles “Fudge”. It is prepared on the basis of sunflower or sesame oil with honey, sugar syrup and egg white, lemon juice and cocoa, vanilla, and chocolate. Walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are the visual and gustatory halvah’s decorations. Sometimes dried fruits are added, for “sourness”. Halvah has a place on the festive table for the New year, Navruz, and at every tea ceremony.

Tahini halvah is also popular in Uzbekistan, which has a specific taste due to sesame paste — it is the main composition’s substance, in addition to three primary ingredients: water, egg white, and sugar syrup. Halvah hardens within 3 days.

16 BAURSAKS — FRIED DOUGH FOOD

Crispy baursaks served in Uzbekistan to the sacred Muslim holidays too. The sweet dough is kneaded in butter with flour, sugar, and eggs. Baursaks is similar to a doughnut, fried in deep fat. Sometimes baursaks poured liquid honey or sprinkled with powdered sugar, although sweet in and of themselves.

DRINKING IN UZBEKISTAN — WHAT TO TRY FROM THE LOCAL EXOTICS

17 TEA

The tea ceremony in Uzbekistan is included in TOP-3 of customs with their own aesthetics related to gastronomy along with pilaf and bread. As part of the cultural and social life of the Uzbek people, it is even demonstrated by the popularity of special places — “tea houses”, where people meet both to relax and talk about business. This is the most popular drink in Uzbekistan. Tea leaves are brewed in a teapot, infused for a couple of minutes, “kaitar-maitar” brewing technique is made — the tea is poured into a piala and then back into the teapot, the action is repeated three times. Thus, the tea gains color and taste. In Uzbekistan, it is customary to pour tea up to half of piala — thus demonstrating the desire to continue a pleasant conversation with guests as long as possible. Depending on the region, somewhere green tea is more popular, somewhere black, as in Tashkent, but both types are widely represented in the country.

18 WINE — MUSEUM OF WINEMAKING AT KHOVRENKO WINERY, SAMARKAND

Contrary to stereotypes, Uzbekistan has a wine culture presented by the 42 plants, they produce around 20 million liters a year. The oldest enterprise is located in Samarkand — the Khovrenko plant, which has been operating since 1868, where only Uzbek grape varieties are taken as the basis for dessert wines:

* Gulyakandoz

• Shirin

• Aleatico

* Liqueur Cabernet

The peculiarity of local grapes, as a result of the Sunny climate, is a high concentration of sugar — up to 35%, while European wines are characterized by no more than 18%.

The Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Filatov became the founder of the Uzbekistan wine-making. Filatov's story is atypical. Dmitry was not a wealthy heir; he became an entrepreneur thanks to Count Turgenev. The Count was famous for a true connoisseur of wine, and noticing a similar passion in the subordinate Filatov, bequeathed him the part of the property to create his own business. In those years, the army of the Russian Empire had already arrived in Uzbekistan. In this sunny, full of new prospects, Dmitry Filatov began to study Uzbek grape varieties, and 15 years later won a gold medal at the wine exhibition in Paris. Since this glory time and to this day, the plant's products are still the export product. And as a gift, try famous bestseller — “Samarkand Balsam”.

19 UZBEK SOUR-MILK DISHES

Uzbek sour-milk dishes deserve to be a separate category, both as a preserved legacy of nomadic life (technology gives a ”second“ life to milk), and as an interesting and delicious element of national cuisine. We recommend:

Katyk — sour milk, the consistency is similar to thick yogurt. It is used both independently with bread and as an addition to meat and rich soups. Katyk in Uzbekistan is also an ancient beauty secret for healthy hair and glowing skin.

Suzma resembles cottage cheese, but with a softer texture and an expressive salty taste, pairings with herbs and cayenne. It is also going with bread and meat. Suzma is always presented in restaurants, but oddly enough, it may not appear on the menu — don't forget to ask!

Kurt is a popular local snack. It shapes — a round ball, the composition: suzma, sour milk, and salt. There is a Kurt with Basil, red pepper, or even smoked. Kurt in Uzbekistan is sold everywhere — by the roads, in supermarkets, and liquor stores, because it is also used in the country as a favorite snack for beer.

Kaymak — something between sour milk and cream, used in the same way as katyk and suzma.

Ayran — a healthier taste of Asia. It is a cold, milky drink that resembles liquid yogurt mixed with salt and often — Basil. Base — milk (can be used not only cow milk but even goat, sheep, and camel) and spring water. Ayran has a beneficial effect on the stomach and acts as an alternative to sugar-containing soft drinks in the summer heat. Once you drink it on a hot day, you feel better. Ayran invigorates and tones up, if you have tasted too much local alcohol the day before, take ayran in the morning — you will not regret it.

In Uzbek cuisine, there is a place for summer cold soups, which are also prepared from sour milk products “katykli”.

Chalop is reminiscent of Russian favorite cold sour-milk soup “okroshka”. It is prepared from katyk, radishes, and cucumbers, added herbs — coriander, dill, parsley, and Basil. Chalop served as hors d’oeuvre.

Guja is a delicious sour-milk soup that saves you from the summer heat in Uzbekistan, which comes as early as 10 am.

The composition includes wheat and corn-they are boiled for 4 hours, then add the katyk, melted salt, coriander, and Basil.

20 BREAD — TANDOOR AND SOFT PATIR NON (LEPESHKA)

Is it strange to talk about bread as a separate dish? Not in Uzbekistan. The ancient symbol of prosperity, important to every culture has not lost its sacred significance in modern Uzbekistan, in rituals, and in the gastronomy. There is no dish here that is not served with ruddy “non“— Uzbek bread, just extracted from the tandoor. Therefore, do not be surprised if in every restaurant the waiter will ask you again and again: “are you sure that you don't need bread?” And most likely, they will bring it to you. It goes for breakfast, with tea or local dairy products — katyk or kaymak, ayran, kumis, and guja. It is used with salad, or even grapes, watermelon and melon.

Round Uzbek bread is flat and voluminous, lush, and rich (patir-non). The varieties are united by a crunchy core, decorated with patterns and sprinkled with black sesame seeds — the most favorite part for adults and children. Non is forbidden to cut with a knife as a tribute to an old custom, they are broken with their hands. This rite is also part of family rituals in Uzbekistan — when matchmakers come to the house and the owners break non, it means that the wedding will be. For the wedding itself, Uzbeks also bake a special lepeshka with butter and cream, as a symbol of the future rich life of the newlyweds. These bread are usually served to unmarried girls, so that family happiness comes to their life.

Of course, there are hundreds of regional variations in taste, appearance, composition of ingredients, but the most popular type of non is Samarqand, which has gathered more than one legend around its exceptional characteristics. This is a gastronomic miracle of Uzbekistan, there is no similarity anywhere in the world! Heavy, immense in volume, made of dense dough, delicious and stored for 3 years thanks to a secret, non-reproducible recipe. Samarqand non was taken with them by the soldiers of Tamerlane's army on campaigns. Over time, the fluffy lepeshka “turn to stone”, but never become moldy. For rehabilitation, you only need to sprinkle water and warm it up, and by magic, the Samarqand bread again becomes the same as the neighboring one that just came from tandoor!