Uzbekistan in Central Asia is a fascinating land of Silk Street historical past, huge parts of meals, and a tradition of hospitality that warms your coronary heart.
I had the privilege to journey to Uzbekistan with the Ministry of Tourism (thanks Bekruz!), to find out about their immense historical past and to expertise Uzbek meals and tradition to the fullest.
I’m going to share the highlights with you proper now.
NOTE: This doesn’t embody each meal and element about my journey to Uzbekistan, however it’s the principle highlights, the highest meals and experiences I had throughout my journey.
From Bangkok we landed in Tashkent, the capital and largest metropolis of Uzbekistan. Tashkent is an ex-Soviet metropolis of Central Asia with a historical past of destruction and re-building a number of occasions from each conquerors and earthquakes.
I used to be instantly stunned how clear, inexperienced, and spacious Tashkent is.
Throughout our time in Tashkent, we stayed at Wyndham Tashkent resort, a pleasant base and their breakfast was wonderful.
Chorsu Bazaar, the huge conventional Uzbek market, is among the greatest locations to immerse your self into the tradition of Tashkent.
It’s a feast for the eyes of contemporary meat, spices, vegetables and fruit, and all the things else produced in Uzbekistan.
The dome construction of the market is iconic, and jogged my memory of a inventory trade flooring, a museum of a market.
Within the meals courtroom part of Chorsu Bazaar you’ll discover an array of ready-made meals to devour.
She’s been making these dumplings for over 25 years, with a noodle like wrapper, filled with thinly julienne potato, and smothered in tart tomato sauce.
Plov (pilau) is essentially the most beloved meals of Uzbekistan, a mixture of rice, meat, often carrots, oil, and seasonings.
Each metropolis in Uzbekistan has their very own model, and as Bekruz advised me, in Uzbekistan, “plov is love.”
In Tashkent, the place to go for plov is the Plov Heart, an opera home like restaurant that prepares 1,500 Kilos of plov per day… and sells out in a pair hours!
A delicacy in Tashkent
Naryn is a well-liked dish in Tashkent, very skinny slices of raw dough, combined with minced up by hand meat, spices like cumin and pepper, and eventually a pair slices of qazi, horse meat sausage.
I believed it was one of many extra distinctive dishes of Uzbekistan.
Tashkent is an incredible metropolis to stroll round, so inexperienced and clear, with enormous large open areas and sidewalks.
One of many landmarks is the statue of Amir Temur, one of many biggest conquerors of Central Asia.
Behind, the long-lasting Lodge Uzbekistan, a remnant of Soviet structure.
I don’t assume I went a single day, throughout my complete journey to Uzbekistan, with out consuming no less than one or just a few somsa (or samosa).
This pocket of dough crammed with mutton and spices is the commonest snack or mild meal in Uzbekistan and throughout Central Asia.
Recognized for his or her teardrop form as they droop into the tandoor oven, Somsa Minor was the very best I attempted.
In Uzbekistan a Choyhona is part of the social and hospitable tradition.
It’s not a restaurant, however you convey your individual meals (they do have cooks there too), and it’s a time to socialize with friends, discuss severe points, and feast on often fairly manly meals.
It was an honor to be invited to a Choyhona, a feast spreading throughout the desk. The principle dish, a whole oxtail, stewed in its personal fats. It was one of the memorable Uzbekistan journey and cultural experiences I had throughout my journey. Thanks to Baha and Rashad for organizing it.
Chinoz Fish Market
The journey continued, and from Tashkent we drove to Samarkand. It’s a couple of four hour drive for those who don’t make four meals stops like we did.
Alongside the way in which, we stopped at Chinoz Fish Market, a collection of freshwater fish eating places identified by fish lovers all through Uzbekistan.
The carp was chopped into items and deep fried.
Then in a cooking transfer I’ve by no means seen anyplace else on the planet (wait until you see the video, coming quickly), proper out of the recent oil, she sprinkled it with garlic water because it hissed. Lastly a handful of dill and cilantro.
Sweetest melons on the planet
Many sorts of melons originate in Central Asia, and Uzbekistan is understood to have among the sweetest melons on the planet.
In-between Tashkent and Samarkand you’ll see melon markets on the aspect of the street, and never stopping to slurp down some melon could be horrible.
Subsequent cease on the street journey: somsa.
I had the possibility to pluck my first somsa from a tandoor oven. That was enjoyable, and really tougher than it appears to be like to get it out of the oven good and clear. They actually stick with the wall of the oven!
Persevering with this Uzbekistan journey information highlights, we arrived in Samarkand, an historical metropolis with among the grandest historic websites within the nation.
That is the place the magnitude of historical past begins to hit you, a metropolis that was conquered by each Alexander the Nice and Genghis Khan.
We stayed on the DiliMah Premium Luxurious pink and purple plush resort, music was just a little loud at night time, however general okay.
Registan is the traditional part of Samarkand, a courtyard of Islamic faculties and Mosques, as soon as a web site of commerce and bazaars alongside the Silk Street.
The surface is spectacular, however step inside and the element and preservation will blow your thoughts.
Along with historical past, Samarkand additionally had a few of my favourite meals in all of Uzbekistan.
Once more, you’ll be able to’t go to a metropolis in Uzbekistan and never attempt their model of plov, and Samarkand had my private favourite model – braised in flax-seed oil, a layer of caramelized carrots, and sprinkled with tender meat.
At Osh Markazi restaurant, they served us on a large communal platter, and it was one of many biggest Uzbek meals moments of my journey.
Whenever you journey in Uzbekistan you don’t wish to miss Samarkand plov.
Let’s not neglect the meat… in Uzbekistan you’ll eat quite a lot of meat – mutton and beef are the 2 commonest.
He’d been the boss of the grill at Ikrom Shashlik for over 20 years, and although with out a trace of a smile, his mastery of grilling shined.
Surely, they have been the very best kebabs I had in Uzbekistan.
Discover the kebab on the far left, skinny slices of alternating mutton meat and fats, grilled to excellent umami smokey juiciness.
Shah-i-Zinda, a collection of mausoleums adorned in turquoise mosaic, is among the most spectacular websites in Samarkand.
To not be missed.
From Samarkand we continued our journey by means of Uzbekistan, driving to Bukhara. It was a couple of 5 – 6 hour drive.
Bukhara is an historical metropolis of World Heritage, and was a vastly influential commerce level alongside the Silk Street.
Your entire heart of the outdated metropolis is crammed with historical buildings, mosques, madrassas, and bazaars.
Enormous turquoise domes glisten within the sunshine and dominate the skyline of Bukhara.
However simply essentially the most spectacular web site in Bukhara to me was the Kalyan minaret, 48 meters excessive and in-built 1127.
It’s spectacular, and even Genghis Khan spared it from being destroyed.
Bazaar in Bukhara
For breakfast in Bukhara we headed to the bazaar, a sprawling market with a bit for all the things.
A pleasant couple of women invited us to eat at their stall (it wasn’t really a restaurant, they simply had a desk for themselves within the again), the place we dug into rounds of contemporary bread and kaymak, thick and creamy clotted cream.
However maybe the culinary spotlight of Bukhara was the tandoori lamb expertise at Chor Bakr.
They pulled it out of the tandoor oven, the meat barely clinging to the bone. It was so tender you would grabs chunks of meat by the fistful.
The lamb was tender and crazily juicy, marinated and rubbed in paprika and juniper.
It was spectacular, and among the finest meals on this Uzbekistan journey information highlights put up.
The ultimate metropolis we visited on our journey to Uzbekistan was Khiva, a metropolis with layers of historical past and buildings which were constructed up quite a few occasions.
Khiva is know for its sheep wool hats, worn within the winter to maintain heat and the summer time to maintain the solar out of your eyes.
One of many coolest issues about Khiva is which you can climb to the highest of one of many principal minarets for a view. It was well worth the view and expertise, however I had sore thighs for the remainder of the day.
The middle of town was just a little on the touristy aspect, however the mud brick metropolis was charming, and in a while, it was an honor to have one of many biggest Uzbek cultural and hospitality experiences of your complete journey.
The meals in Khiva was completely totally different from the opposite elements of Uzbekistan that I had visited, and made use of extra herbs and greens – probably as a result of rivers close by?
Shivit oshi is a specialty of Khiva and so they make a very good model at Tea home Mirza Boshi.
The greenness of the noodles comes from dill, topped with a beef stew, and with a aspect of cooling yogurt.
One of many highlights of visiting the outdated heart of Khiva is Juma Mosque, which is now a museum.
There are 218 picket columns, just a few of them relationship again to the 10th century when it was initially constructed (nonetheless the mosque was rebuilt within the 18th century).
Residence-cooked meal in Khiva
Being invited to cook dinner and eat at a neighborhood dwelling in Khiva was an instance of the unimaginable Uzbek tradition and hospitality.
The Aunties ready egg dumplings, a specialty in Khiva.
They rolled the dough, molded them into small jiaozi sized dumplings, and essentially the most distinctive a part of your complete cooking is that they poured an egg combination right into a tea kettle, crammed the little dumplings with the egg liquid, sealed them, and dropped them instantly into the boiling water.
The egg was sealed contained in the wrapper, paired with a spoon of yogurt.
Sitting of their dwelling, consuming home-cooked egg dumplings, was a spotlight not solely in Khiva, however in my complete journey to Uzbekistan.
And that wrapped up our journey to Uzbekistan.
Once more, that is hardly an exhaustive put up, however on this easy Uzbekistan journey information I’ve highlighted just a few of the experiences, folks, and meals that stood out to me – the recollections and flavors I’ll always remember, and the hospitality I’ve a lot to be taught from.
Thanks to the Tourism Ministry of Uzbekistan for inviting and funding my journey to Uzbekistan, and particularly Bekruz for initiating all the things and organizing my complete journey.
Hope this offers you some concepts and insights into an enchanting nation, stunning tradition, and scrumptious meals in Uzbekistan.