Tour MTHC 16. Culinary traditions of Uzbekistan on the Silk Road

MTHC 16 “Culinary traditions of Uzbekistan on the Silk Road” — 11 DAYS / 10 NIGHTS

See also info about Food in Uzbekistan

Itinerary: Tashkent—-  Khiva - Bukhara — Nurata — Aydarkul  - Samarkand —Tashkent – Fergana  - Tashkent
Specialty Categories: Food & Wine & Cultural Journey
Best period: from March to November
Duration: 11 days/ 10 nights 
Accommodation: in double rooms in hotels 2, 3, 4 */ yurt

Highlights of the trip
Uzbek cuisine is perhaps one of the most diverse in the whole Orient! Over hundreds of years, Uzbekistan, located on the trade caravan trails of the Great Silk Road, played host to traders from East and West, who brought with them the tastes from their native lands and shared with local people the best-kept culinary secrets. Thus Uzbek cuisine evolved from a multitude of influences and acquired new dishes, which with the lapse of time has virtually become national Uzbek dishes. With the focus on Oriental gastronomy, this tour will give you an opportunity to immerse yourself in Uzbekistan’s rich history and culture, to learn about treasured architecture of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva – the fabled cities still keeping the memory of Tamerlane, Alexander the Great, Genghis-khan, and many trade caravans of the Great Silk Road. Tall elegant minarets, grandiose madrassas and mosques will be branded in your mind for long. But first of all, this travel will be appreciated by gourmets. Open for yourself the world full of oriental delicacies!

High season: from March, 15 till June, 1; from august, 10 till November, 1
Middle season: from June, 1 till August, 10
Low season: from November, 2, till March, 14

Detailed program
Day 1.  Arrival to Tashkent.
At Tashkent international airport you will be given a hearty welcome and transferred to a hotel. Today you will see Tashkent - the capital and a up-and-coming business metropolis of Uzbekistan. Located at the place where agricultural oases meet boundless Eurasian steppes, Tashkent boasts two thousand years of history. Every visitor of Tashkent is amazed at its unique peculiarity. You may ask what is so specific about this city. The point is that this fascinating city combines two seemingly discordant things: antiquity and modernity. You will see here many new high-rise buildings, parks buried in verdure, big squares with numerous flower-beds, streets full of cars constantly speeding by. In general, you will see everywhere the signs of a fast-developing city, which advances by leaps and bounds. Curiously enough, at the same time you can meet ancient buildings which match well and even add certain flavor to this unforgettable city.  For example, one of the city districts is called Old City – “Chorsu”. And indeed, here you will see ancient madrassahs, mosques and huge, real Oriental bazaar. Chor-Su Bazaar dazzles with its bright lively colors. Ceramics and carpets, articles of applied arts and foodstuff, fruits and vegetables, “lepyoshka” (oriental flat bread), and oriental spices – everything is on display! If you have a wish to buy something - you should go to Chorsu bazaar. Here you can find everything to dress yourself from head to feet, as well as to save your appetite. There is everything here! After sightseeing tour you will be offered a delicious lunch (don’t forget, this is a gastronomic tour). For main course you can savour that very remarkable dish – palov. Traditionally it is made of rice and mutton, though beef, pork or chicken can be sometimes used, too. Palov possesses a specific flavour, being saturated with spices and smoke, as it is cooked on open fire. In Uzbekistan they say that genuine palov can be cooked only by man. It is so indeed. Palov is to be accompanied by various appetizers: kazy, khasyp, somsa, meat rolls, aychik-chuk (national salad), lepyoshka etc.  You can spend the evening in the restaurant.  Aromatic shourpa (national soup) with many spicy salads will be served up to you. As a rule, shourpa is cooked of lamb, but chicken will also do. A big amount of vegetables, fresh herbs and oriental spices are included into the recipe of this dish. For dessert you can delight in juicy watermelon or cantaloupe. It is said that nowhere else in the world one can find such a sweet and aromatic melon as in Uzbekistan! Believe it or not, this is true.

Day 2. Tashkent – Urgench - Khiva.
Departure to Urgench on flight HY at 07:00. 08:30 arrival in Urgench - the administrative centre of the Khorezm region. Transfer to Khiva (35 km, 30 min) - the only "Museum under the open sky". Accommodation in a hotel, located inside or nearby Ichan-Qala - the historical center of Khiva which has been inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List. City tour around the architectural complex "Ichan-Qala": Kunya-Ark khan's castle - the inner citadel of Ichan-Qala, Kalta Minor Tower (Short minaret) that would have become the biggest and tallest minaret in Central Asia, Muhammad Amin-Khan - the biggest  medieval medressa in Khiva, Djuma Mosque with 220 wooden columns and a minaret.  Lunch during the visit to a restaurant tasting "tukhum barak" egg cakes, specialty Khiva, "goumma" - beighets with the meat and potatoes in it, cooked vegetables, assorted salads, bread Uzbek fruit after season (apple, grape, pear, melon and watermelon. Dinner: "Dimlama" - stew with vegetables and meat, an assortment of salads three-input, fruits, beverages. After visit we recommend you to view this town by night! Nighttime Khiva is the eighth wonder of the world! Walking along its narrow streets where minarets rise at every step and the sky above is studded with bright stars you may think you are in one of Shaherezada’s tales. And all around you is peace and quiet! It seems the life died down and nobody lives here. There is some alluring mystery in the air, which makes you spellbound.

Day 3. Khiva - Bukhara.
The trip in Khiva is completed and today you will make your way to Bukhara. It’s going to be a very interesting trip, as the road runs along the famous desert of Central Asia – Kyzyl-Kum. You will see endless red hot sands, once trodden by numerous trade caravans. Khiva is an inimitable, real Oriental city, whose air is still pervaded with the spirit of the Middle Ages! There are no high modern buildings or wide busy highways here. It seems that time has come to a standstill just to preserve for you ancient beauty of this amazing land! Picnic lunch on the way: A barbecue lunch awaits you input some onions and lamb kebabs, a treat. Arrival in Bukhara in the late afternoon.  Hotel  accommodation. Walk in the Old City for a first discovery of Bukhara.  Dinner and overnight at the hotel. Salad "Atchik tchutchik" simple and delicious, the somsa (a kind of puff pastry turnovers with meat minced lamb served with tchakka also mint), they are simply Exciting: the dough is a mixture of laminated and crispy and with the mint sauce is excellent!, Thcouthcvara - Auz small soup dumplings.

Day 4. Bukhara.
There are so many things to see and to sample in Bukhara. Today after breakfast the guide will introduce you to them. The architectural ensembles of Bukhara created the city’s shape and continue to form its distinctive image to the present day. Restored and protected by the state, these relics of architecture have been brought back to life and have become the integral part of the modern city. Sightseeing Bukhara is an interesting pastime, but you should not forget that local cuisine is the highlight of the tour. So it’s high time to satisfy your gourmet passion. Today you will taste the real home cooking! On an oriental trestle bed, in the shadowy green yard you will be treated to a delicious lunch! The hospitable hostess will cook chuchvara – the most widespread dish sometimes called varaki-chuchvara. Chuchvara is kind of meat dumplings. Its characteristic feature is the flavoursome broth. Dumplings can be served up as main dish as well. In this case you will be offered some seasoning: either tomato sauce with plenty of herbs and garlic, or kind of yogurt with herbs (called “suzma”). A perfect combination! Would you like to sample another exotic dish - mastava with pumpkin? The meat or mastava should be first fried and then boiled. Then rice, one of the basic ingredients, is added to the broth. Sometimes caraway and pumpkin are added, too.  What a variety of delicacies could be cooked from eggplant! Eggplant can be stuffed with juicy lamb, onion and tomatoes. It can also be made into tasty round rissoles. Slices of eggplant are first fried in oil and then used as wrapping for stuffing made of tomatoes, herbs and garlic. You could not ask for a better snack! For a drink you will be offered good home wine: fortified or dry. To complete it all you will be treated to fragrant tea with quince dessert. Quince is peeled of skin and core, and then filled with fried almonds, raisin and honey. In the evening, you are invited to an extraordinary restaurant. Why extraordinary? For it is arranged inside of a madrassah courtyard. As a matter of fact, everything in Bukhara is extraordinary. You enter a madrassah and unexpectedly find yourself in an antique shop, or a café, or a handicrafts shop. In short, trading business is a common thing in Asia. There is a show-programme in the evening: instrumental music, girls dancing to the accompaniment of oriental tunes. The menu here offers you a wide choice of dishes: from local Uzbek or Tajik or Kyrgyz cuisine to well-known European one. What a fascinating day you’ve had! But time flies and it’s time to come back to cozy hotel and have a rest. Tomorrow you will start for magic Khiva.

Day 5. Bukhara.
Continuation of visits around Bukhara to see the four minarets of Chor Minor, summer residence of the emirs of Bukhara, which houses the only museum of Suzanne (traditional blankets embroidered by hand) and the house of the old merchant Khodjayev astrakhan skins. Lunch in a typical restaurant: chicken soup, plof of  Bukhara, an assortment of salads, three entries, melon and watermelon After dessert, we serve tea with spices Bukhara: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, mint and oregano. Free afternoon. Dinner at local restaurant on the square Lyabi House. Tasting of a specialty called Nowruz composed of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, sliced beef, spices, salad: tomatoes and cucumbers, eggplant salad, tchakka-suzma (cheese and sour white) / traditional bread cake / dessert: fruit or cake / Drinks: green tea and black coffee, still and sparkling water. Overnight at hotel.

Day 6. Bukhara – Gijduvan – Nurata - Aydarkul.
The way to Nurata with a way to step in Guijdouvan to visit the studio of ceramic artists. Along the way, stop at a place that keeps the rock petroglyphs. Continue to Nurata, a large oasis fed by a sacred spring: the "Tchashma" sheltering his sacred fish. Lunch in a tchoykhona (Tandir kabob - Mishui-cooked roast the lamb on a spit over the embers of a wood fire in tandyr-oven) with the locals. Departure to the Kazak yurt. Camel Riding. Unforgettable evening in the middle of the steppe. Dinner in a yurt: the meal is an excellent Dimlama - the beef stew with potatoes in the traditional music of the desert and night under the sky of the desert (collective accommodation).

Day 7. Aydarkul -  Samarkand.
Breakfast. Camel ride across the steppes and dunes to reach the lake Aïdarkoul. The fish are numerous and it has also become home to many birds migrations. Aarrival, swimming depending on weather conditions, Picnic by the lake fish, grilled fish on a wood fire! and drive to Samarkand (250 km). The campaign is crossed by more cultured, richer. Arrival in the afternoon. Hotel accomodation. Start of Tour: visit Gur Emir mausoleum  which was built by order of Tamerlan. Dinner at a restaurant in town: delicious shashlik - kebabs of lamb, veal, chicken, vegetables (tomatoes, peppers); Overnight at hotel.

Day 8. Samarkand.
You let our guide take you for a stroll through this stunning city. It is worth to cross oceans and seas to see this majestic place. Few cities on the globe can boast the age of 25 centuries, alluring beauty, and unique appearance. Samarkand has all these. It was not without reason that poets and historians of the past called this city “A precious gem of the oriental Muslim world”, “Eden of the Ancient Orient”, “The beauty of the universe”, “Rome of the Orient”… Samarkand is the bearer of the greatest historical and cultural traditions of Uzbek people.  The sightseeing round this enchanting ancient city will certainly put you in high spirits and to make your impression more vivid you will be taken for lunch to a real Uzbek choykhona – teahouse. This time you will be offered manty – delicious steamed dumplings which indeed are finger-licking good. This is a popular meat dish among Central Asian nations. Traditionally the filling for manty is minced meat with onion and spices, which is then wrapped in thinly rolled out paste. But there exist variations and filling for manty can be made of potato, pumpkin and other stuff. Uzbekistan is a multinational country and different cuisines have interwoven like the vine whose sprouts cling onto each other thus making the stem solid. Chili-spiked Korean carrot salad (morkovcha), spicy Armenian cabbage salad, laminaria, marinated mushrooms and many others delicacies will go well with Uzbek dishes. And to complete this all you will be served traditional tea. Local people drink green and black tea depending on the region and season. In summer people prefer to drink green tea, because it quenches thirst, whereas in winter it is mostly black tea which makes you warm and relaxed on frosty days! Satisfied and pleased with yourself now you can continue city tour. There are so many places still to see. Samarkand breathes history which has retained the joys and sorrows of many generations. Here you can immerse in the past, feel the breath of antiquity. The fascinating stories of the local guide will take you through every page of the life of this legendary city.  The busy day is coming to a close and it’s time for evening meal. You are offered to make a short trip to a village in the suburbs to taste barra – a dish made from two-week-old lamb cooked in oriental oven - tandyr. Another don’t-miss dish is shashlyk (shish kebab), a favourite both in Asia and in Caucasus. It can be easily made from any type of meat or fish. The meat is cut in cubes which then are skewered and roasted over an open fire on the chargrill. Shashlyk is garnished with fresh vegetables, pickles, sauces, and fresh herbs, of course. Shashlyk can be eaten hot or cool. This is a perfect snack for strong drinks. In the Orient the appropriate drink for shashlyk is red wine. Today’s dinner accompanied by oriental tunes will certainly be to your liking. The night creeps up and you will be taken to the hotel for overnight.

Day 9. Samarkand.
Today you will proceed with sightseeing of Samarkand and visit the famous monuments of this fascinating city. Registan square is on the top of the list. In the past this square was the city’s busiest place, whereas today it is filled with crowds of tourists spellbound by the grandeur and elegance of three madrassahs enclosing the square on three sides: Ulugbek’s madrassah (15th century), Sher-Dor and Tillya-Kari madrassahs (17th century). Other attractions which are on your “menu” today are architectural complex Shakhi-Zinda (the 10th – 19th centuries), Gur-Emir mausoleum (15th century), Afrosiab site, Saint Daniil grave, Bibi-khanum mosque (early 15th century), which suffered destructive impact of wars and earthquakes, and many other monuments that have retained the spirit of antiquity. You will finish off your morning sightseeing with a fabulous lunch. The local cuisine offers much to choose from. You can start with lagman – a dish which is wide-spread all over Central Asia. There exist Uzbek, Uygur  and Dungan varieties of this dish. The main ingredient for lagman is pasta made from stretched dough. Some people call lagman a noodle soup, others consider it to be the main course as sometimes it is made too thick. Lagman consists of two essential ingredients cooked separately and then brought together into one dish before being served up. The first ingredient is pasta itself, whereas the second is so called vajja which imparts the dish with a peculiar taste and aroma. Vajja is a kind of sauce made of meat, vegetables and herbs. You will certainly like it! You should also sample the pride of Samarkand - lepyoshka (oriental flat bread). The authentic Samarkand lepyoshka should be baked in national oven - tandyr. It is rather thick and can be kept for a long time without losing its savoury smell. If you happen to be in Samarkand during “wedding” season, which traditionally is autumn, when sweet juicy fruits ripen, you will undoubtedly be invited to a wedding party. People here are very hospitable. And you will get a good chance to taste many local delicacies: noodles, meat dumplings- chuchvara, kazan-kabob, beshbarmak, traditional palov, dumlyama and many other things! And what a variety of sweets! There are pakhlava and rakhat-lukum, pulpy dried apricots and raisins, and candied nuts. The table is groaning with fruits: soft pears, crunching apples, persimmon, pomegranate, juicy peaches, melons and watermelons. You don’t know where to look first! The list can be too long. So it’s better come and taste for yourself.  The tasting room of the well-known Samarkand Wine and Vodka Plant has become an inseparable part of the tourist routes of the city. Guests of this ancient city have an opportunity to taste local sorts of wine and evaluate the quality of these “sunny” drinks. We offers you a visit unique to the Samarkand Winery, to taste 10 of the best varieties of Uzbek wine, and take a tour of the Museum of History of the Winery. We can organize a visit to the wine-cellars, with the possibility of buying vintage wines.

Day 10. Samarkand - Tashkent.
The busy days full of new unforgettable experiences have glided away and the tour is nearing its end. Time has come to say goodbye to magic Samarkand and to come back to Tashkent. You will have this day at leisure. We invite you to take a walk along the garden located in the centre of Tashkent, to watch the ducks peacefully floating in a small pond, or pompous storks pacing in the park, and to recollect the places we have visited and the cities that impressed you so much that will stay in your memory forever. We also advice you to visit Chor-su bazaar in the old part of Tashkent. Touring of oriental bazaar is an unforgettable experience. Moreover, here you can buy various souvenirs for your family and friends! Tashkent offers a diverse range of cuisine as its population constitutes a heavy mix of foreigners and diverse ethnic community. In Tashkent you can savour the dishes of Uzbek, European, Chinese, Korean, Kyrgyz, Uigur, Japanese and other cuisines which have become popular among the local people and numerous guests of Uzbek capital.

Day 11. Tashkent. Departure
Our gastronomic tour is over. In this tour we tried to give you an opportunity to feel all the diversity and exotic nature of Uzbek rich cuisine which inherited the culinary legacies of many cultures. We tried not to miss anything important! The most notable dishes of indigenous cuisine were included into you menu, as well as the most interesting attractions were included into your itinerary. Unfortunately, the time limits prevent you from sampling and experiencing many more amazing things. Hospitable Uzbekistan is looking forward to your next visit!

The program will be specified in accordance with the schedule of the international flights of arrival and departure.
We are absolutely open to any suggestions to increase the range of our services for the complete satisfaction of our clients.
Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your individual needs. Customized tours can be conducted in English, French, German, Spanish or Italian. Each departure is conducted in the designated language only.
Please contact us for prices.

Uzbek cuisine

Uzbek cuisine is the most diverse one in the East. Some of the recipes for cooking of Uzbek dishes have centuries-old history. Every dish has its own traditional rituals and methods of cooking. There are about 1000 various recipes of dishes, beverages and confectionaries. The art of cookery same as the other types of art does not develop separately but influenced by the traditions of nations, people and inhabitants of nearby countries.  For example, if you take a look at the history of formation of contemporary Uzbek cuisine, there are distinguished elements of Russian, Ukrainian, Caucasian, Tatar, Kazakh, Uigur and Tajik national cuisines as well as tens of others. Uzbek cuisine occupies one of the unique places in the variety and flavoring qualities of dishes; the oriental originality is peculiar to it. The principal cause of the variety of Uzbek cuisine is connected with the historical past of the region. The location of Uzbekistan in the center of the Great Silk Road, that had been connecting civilizations of the West and the East for long centuries, and also the place occupied by Uzbekistan between western and eastern cultures are the main reasons of the unique wealth of Uzbek cuisine. Taste of eastern spices, abundance of various sweets, taste of greens and vegetables, various tasty drinks, high-calorie dishes cooked from meat of all kinds of animals, and, certainly, fine taste of tea which is an integral part of eastern cuisine are the guarantees of physical and mental health of a person.  Cuisine is especially distinguished and developed aspect of Uzbek culture. Unlike nomadic neighbors, Uzbek people had stable and settled civilization during many centuries. People cultivated corn and domesticated cattle between deserts and mountains, in oases and fertile valleys. As a result, the abundance of products allowed Uzbek people to express their unique tradition of hospitality, which in its turn enriched their cuisine. Seasons of the year, especially winter and summer effect on the ingredients of the main menu. Fruits, vegetables and nuts are ubiquitous in summer. Fruits such as grape, melons, watermelons, apricots, pears, apples, quinces, persimmons, cherries, pomegranates, lemons and figs grow in Uzbekistan in abundance. Vegetables, including a few lesser known varieties of green radish, yellow carrot and gourd family in addition to ordinary eggplants, peppers, turnips, cucumbers and juicy tomatoes are not less abundant. Winter diet traditionally consists of dried fruits, vegetables and canned products. Noodles and dough dishes are also common foods during cold seasons of the year.  The main preferable source of protein in Uzbek cuisine is mutton. Sheep are valued not only for their meat and fatty tails (the source of fat in culinary) but also for their wool. Beef and horseflesh are also used as food in significant amounts. Camel meat and meat of goats are less widespread. The taste of Uzbek dishes is not particularly hot, but of course spicy. Some seasonings used during cooking are black caraway, red and black pepper, barberry, coriander and sesame seeds. The most popular herbs are parsley (fresh coriander), dill, celery and raikhon (basil). Other seasonings include wine vinegar, which is separately added to salads, pickles and other sour-milk products. A great variety of bread, both butter and unleavened one, is the main element in food for the majority of population. Flat bread or Non (aka lepeshka) is usually baked in clay ovens (tandyrs) and served with tea, not to mention each separately taken dish. Some types of lepeshkas are baked with onion or meat, baked in dough; others are scattered by seeds of sesame or calonji. Bread is a holy food for Uzbek people. According to traditions, when someone leaves home he has to bite a little piece of lepeshka that will be kept until he comes back and eats it. The tradition of carrying of baskets with bread on head is also the example of high respect for bread. Over many centuries, bakers have baked lepeshkas in tandyrs (an oven made of clay). As a result bread turns out to be delicious and crispy. There are two types of lepeshkas : ordinary (obi-non) and festival (patyr). Ordinary lepeshka is mixed in water and covered by sedana. Patyr is cooked from laminated dough with addition of lamb fat. Soups occupy an important place in the national cuisine of Uzbekistan. These dishes are full with such vegetables as carrot, beet, as well as onion and greens. The most popular soups are mastava and shurpa.  Shashlyk and somsa (national patty cooked from laminated dough and baked in tandyr) are very famous dishes of Uzbek cuisine. Halvah which is worldwide known traditional eastern sweet is cooked from wheat flour, sugar with nuts or sedana. There are about 50 various types of halvah in Uzbekistan. Besides, Uzbekistan is renowned for its tasty juices made of fruits, grape, melons and watermelons.  In Uzbek cuisine, there are dishes that are cooked in a certain season of the year. For instance, a salad from radish with sour cream, sumalak, dumplings with greens, somsa with greens, plov with stuffed grape leaves, roasted cauliflower, green gram soup with mint are cooked in spring. Shashlyk with tomatoes, stuffed cabbage, stuffed bell pepper, lagman, salad with suzma, cold soup from sour milk and greens, stewed shashlyk, stewed meat, stewed vegetables, ayran, tea, fruit compotes etc. are cooked in summer. Roasted meat, fish shashlyk, roasted young lambs, quail soup, plov with quince, manty with potatoes and pumpkin etc. are cooked in autumn.  In winter there are plov with kazy karta, postdumba and lamb fat; kazy karta, lamb shashlyk, radish salad, soup with fried meat, moshkichiri, various fruits preserved for winter, jams, compotes, pickles. Tea as a ceremony, is one of the most beautiful oriental traditions. Tea is offered to any guest and there is also an additional range of customs that include preparation, serving and drinking of tea. Green tea is prevailing and considered as a drink of hospitality. Black tea is preferred in Tashkent. Both types of tea are sometimes served with milk and more often with sugar. The ceremony of drinking of tea in Uzbek cuisine also includes eating of such food as somsa, lepeshka, halvah and various roasted and baked products. Tea-room (Choikhona in Uzbek language) is an important part of traditions of Uzbek people. It is always located in a shady place, preferably near a cold creek. Choikhona is a place of meetings for social interaction, communication and friendship. Uzbek men enjoy delicious plov, shashlyk and endless tea bowls with green tea, while gathering around low tables placed on tapchans (low beds with bars). A few recipes of cooking of famous dishes: Plov, sumalak, shurpa, chuchvara, somsa, manty, lagman, naryn.

Uzbek plov

The main national dish of Uzbekistan is plov. Normally, festive plov is cooked from mutton and rice with adding of a large amount of carrot and onion, as well as spices. Each ingredient of plov has a symbolic meaning, while holiday supper with plov has a ritual meaning connected to ancient traditions. Plov is cooked by ancient recipes and has a lot of varieties. For wedding ceremony, that plays a significant role in Uzbek people’s ceremonies, a special plov for weddings is cooked. In each region, there are their own secrets of cooking of this dish that create its unique taste and aroma. Normally, plov is served up on a big flat dish. According to the ancient tradition plov is eaten with hands from one common dish, however, now, especially in cities, you can see more often that it is eaten with using of spoons and sometimes forks.

Sumalak, cooked from spouted grains of wheat

Sumalak occupies a special place in Uzbek cuisine. In ancient times, sumalak was cooked as a ritual dish before the beginning of spring cultivation works. Sumalak is cooked from spouted grains of wheat, that are being milled and then boiled in a cauldron with cotton-seed oil and adding of flour, during 10-12 hours. It is believed that sumalak should be cooked with singing of songs and playful merry trolls. After the dish gets cold, it is served on the table. It is considered that this dish gives people physical and spiritual power. There is a legend that tells about the origin of sumalak. Once a fortress town on the bank of Djeikhan river was under siege of nomads from the East. When all food finished, the heads of the fortress ordered to take out last sacks of soggy and sprouted wheat. When defenders of the town tasted this unattractive soup they felt such a burst of power and started to fight the attacks of the enemies back with such a fury that the enemies were put out of countenance and retreated. Peace was established again on the earth.

Shurpa, uzbek traditional soup

Shurpa, mastava
Among liquid dishes, various types of shurpa and mastava occupy an important place in Uzbek national cuisine. The main ingredient is a fat meat bouillon. Shurpa and mastava are cooked from fresh or roasted beforehand meat. But more often from fresh mutton. Carrot and bulb onion that is being chopped in circles and added in a fresh state are important ingredients. Sometimes shurpa is cooked with turnip and peas. In some regions potatoes, fresh tomatoes and sweet pepper are also added. There are two types of shurpa: kainatma (shurpa cooked from fresh meat) and kovurma (shurpa cooked from roasted meat). Kainatma shurpa is more widespread and has a sweet taste and aroma. Meat is boiled in big pieces, while vegetables are boiled as a whole or in big lobules. Boiling is carried out on a small fire. Excessive boiling cannot be allowed. Mastava can be referred to the variety of shurpa. As a rule, it is cooked from roasted meat. The main ingredient is preliminary thoroughly picked and washed rice that is being put into bouillon 25-30 minutes before the cooking of the dish is finished. In some regions, they add caraway to make the dish more tasteful 50-60 minutes before the cooking of the dish is finished.

lagman, uzbek noodle soup

Ugra soups
The soups cooked with adding of home-made noodles are popular in Uzbek national cuisine. Ugra is cooked in a bouillon or in fresh or sour milk. These types of the soup are more often cooked in Bukhara, Kashkadarya, Samarkand and Tashkent regions as well as in Ferghana valley. Stiff dough is prepared in water or milk with a little amount of melted butter or without it and sometimes with adding of eggs. After 30-40 minutes, dough is rolled out in thin slices being cut into strips with 8-10 cm width, with adding of flour. Then it is gathered in a pile and cut into noodles. Meat, potatoes, carrot and bulb onions cut into small dices, are fried with a little amount of fat with adding of fresh tomatoes. Fried vegetables are poured with cold water and boiled. Scum is being removed. French beans and salt are added optionally. The fire is being increased 12-15 minutes before the cooking of the dish is finished. Then noodles are added in small portions.

Chuchvara is the most widespread national dish. Sometimes it is called varak chuchvara (dumplings). The cooking method of chuchvara is the same in all regions. Stiff dough is prepared from flour, eggs, water and salt. Then it is kept for 40-50 minutes for swelling. In order to make minced beef or mutton, meat is cut into small pieces and chopped with bulb onions or minced, and then a little amount of water, pepper, salt and zira are added before this mixture is thoroughly mixed. Dough is rolled out in slices with 1-1,5 mm thickness and cut into small 4x4 cm squares. Minced meat is being put on the small piece of dough the corners of which are pinched and rolled up connecting the ends and making a form of a crescent with a hole in the center. Before serving chuchvara is boiled in a salty water or a bouillon. Then it is dished up with suzma spiced by milled pepper, bulb onions and tomatoes, black pepper or sour cream.

Manti, uzbek ravioli

After plov, manty is the most widespread and favorite dish of Uzbeks because in many regions mantys are dished up at the end of the meal. In Ferghana valley, Samarkand, Tashkent and Bukhara manty is one of the most important components of ration of local population. In other regions they are rarely cooked. Mantys are cooked from mixed in water stiff dough which is rolled out in slices with 4-5mm thickness and being cut into squares of 12x12 cm size. Minced meat, minced vegetables or greens can be a stuffing. Mantys are steamed during 35-45 minutes in special pots (kaskans). They are dished up with katik or sour cream.

Uzbek somsa

Somsa is baked in all regions of Uzbekistan with various stuffing: meat, pumpkin, greens etc. Somsa is baked in tandyrs and also in gas or electric ovens. Medium stiff dough for somsa is kept for 20-30 minutes and then rolled out in a rope and cut into pieces with 10-15 gr. weight. They should not be thicker than 2-2,5 mm. The edges are rolled out thinner than the center. Minced meat is being put onto the center, formed into the dough and baked at a high temperature. The following is required for the dough: wheat flour – 25 gr., water – 105 gr., salt – 6 gr. As for the minced meat, the following is also required: mutton or beef flesh – 150 gr., fat – 35 gr., onion – 250 gr., zira – 1 gr., salt and pepper ad gustum. At any time of day you can enjoy some tea (the national drink), either black or green, while seated in the shade in a tchaikhana or tea house. This is where older Uzbeks gather to chat over a pot of scalding tea. You might also try the sweet white wines or mellow reds… or even the sparkling “shampanski.” Kefir is a yogurt drink usually served for breakfast. Vodka, beer and brandy are sold everywhere. In hotels the cooking shows a strong Russian influence: borsch (beet soup), well-done steak or strogans, the local adaptation of Beef Stroganoff. An import from Ukraine, pilmeni are small ravioli filled with meat or vegetables, often served in vegetable soup.