Uzbek cuisine is a fascinating blend of various culinary traditions, reflecting the country’s history as a crossroads of civilizations. Located in Central Asia, Uzbekistan has been a hub of cultural exchange and trade for centuries, which is reflected in its food. Uzbek cuisine is characterized by its rich use of herbs, vegetables and meat, particularly lamb and beef.
For the natives, all three meals of the day are of great importance. The day begins with an early breakfast, followed by lunch around 1:00 p.m., and dinner around 7:00 p.m. Uzbek restaurants serve their guests’ needs by offering warm meals throughout the day.
Uzbek cuisine boasts an array of meats, including beef, lamb, and chicken. Pork is not commonly found due to the Muslim culture, but some restaurants in Tashkent and Samarkand offer pork dishes. Vegetarians may not find a wide variety of options, but there are lots of salads to choose from.
When Uzbek cooks want to add flavor to their meat dishes, they usually use cumin (known as “zira” in Uzbek) and coriander seeds. The cuisine is not particularly spicy, but the fragrant and subtle flavors of the dishes are sure to delight your senses.
Manti are steamed dumplings and is a well-known dish in Central Asia. It is made out of unleavened dough and a filling of minced or small cuts of beef/lamb, onions and lamb fat. Seasonal ingredients such as pumpkin, potatoes, and spinach are commonly used, although is typically only found in homemade versions rather than in restaurants. Manti are steamed in a special pot, known as manti cooker. The quality of Manti is judged by the thinness of its dough, as it allows to enjoy the rich taste of the juicy filling. They are typically served with a side of sour cream or yoghurt and topped with melted butter or oil.
Kazan-kabob is a classic dish of Uzbek cuisine. It is difficult to think of something more delicious than slices of juicy lamb chops together with spice-soaked and meat-flavoured roasted potatoes. And let it be a high-calorie dish, but it is impossible to tear yourself away from it. The kazan-kabob is served with washed onions.
Uyghur Lagman is a highly popular dish in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and western China. It is made with hand-pulled noodles, lamb or beef, and a variety of vegetables such as celery, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and Chinese cabbage. Numerous spices are used in its preparation, with anise being a particular favorite among many chefs. Uyghur Lagman is typically served with “laza”, a spicy sauce made from dried red pepper, garlic and sunflower oil.
Kovurma Lagman, which means “fried Lagman,” is a hearty and satisfying dish that is sure to please fans of delicious, substantial meals. This dish is particularly popular among men and is reminiscent of pasta with sauce. Handmade noodles are topped with a flavorful gravy made from beef, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. To complete the dish, a thinly sliced egg pancake or fried egg is placed on top.
Shashlik is a type of kebab and a beloved dish in Central Asia that has been enjoyed for centuries. Traditionally, it is made from lamb or beef, which is marinated and then skewered and grilled over an open flame. Today, however, shashlik can also be made with chicken, quail, rabbit, vegetables, and mushrooms. The meat is often seasoned with salt, black pepper, and cumin. When served, shashlik is typically accompanied by fresh onions that have been seasoned with vinegar.
In addition to the different types of meat used in shashlik, there are also variations depending on what part of the animal is used. For example, shashlik made from ribs, spine, steak meat, or liver all have their own unique flavour and texture.
Another popular type of shashlik is made from ground meat, in Uzbekistan usually beef, although in some countries chicken is also used. This type of shashlik is formed into patties and then grilled to perfection.
Vaguri is marinated tender lamb on the bone, roasted over high heat, and served with onions and herbs.
Jizz is a popular dish served in restaurants and teahouses, featuring marinated beef or chicken roasted over high heat. While the dish is enjoyed throughout the region, the specific preparation techniques can vary depending on the location. Regardless of the cooking method, the result is always deliciously tender and flavorful meat. Jizz is typically served with raw onions or some vegetables, which provide a refreshing contrast to the rich and savoury meat. Whether you prefer beef or chicken, Jizz is a must-try dish for anyone looking to experience the rich and diverse flavours of Uzbekistan cuisine.
Dimlama is a traditional Uzbek dish that is popular throughout Central Asia. It is a hearty and flavorful stew that is usually made with a combination of meat and vegetables. The dish is typically slow-cooked in a large pot, which helps to infuse the flavours of the ingredients together and create a rich, savoury broth.
The main ingredients in Dimlama include lamb or beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, and peppers. Sometimes, other vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, and cabbage can also be added, depending on the recipe.
Dolma is a popular dish in many parts of the world, and Uzbekistan is no exception.
In Uzbekistan, dolma is a dish made from grape leaves that are stuffed with a mixture of seasoned ground meat, rice, and herbs. The mixture is typically made with lamb or beef, although vegetarian options with lentils or chickpeas are also available.
khanum or urama khanum
To make Khanum, the dough is prepared from flour, water, and salt. The dough is then rolled out into thin sheets, and each sheet is layered with a filling made from meat (usually beef) and can be mixed with potatoes. Cumin and black pepper are added to the filling for extra flavour.
The most common version of Naryn is made with shredded meat, usually, beef, which is cooked with onions, garlic, and spices until tender. The cooked meat is then mixed with the boiled noodles, and the entire mixture is seasoned with salt, pepper, and sometimes with other spices to taste. The resulting broth is typically served with Naryn.
“Nukhat shurak” or “nohat shurak” is a traditional dish hailing from Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and is also commonly found on the menus of restaurants featuring national cuisine in Tashkent. This hearty dish is made using lamb and chickpeas, which are slow-cooked over low heat for several hours, allowing the flavours to meld together.
“Shivit Oshi” is a traditional dish that originates from Khiva, a city located in the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan. While it’s possible to find this dish in restaurants or cafes that specialize in Khorezmian cuisine in Tashkent, it’s primarily a dish that’s prepared and enjoyed in Khiva.
The noodles used in Shivit Oshi are made by kneading dough infused with dill (“shivit” means dill in Uzbek), giving them a vibrant green colour. Separately, a savoury gravy is prepared using beef, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes. The dish is traditionally served with a side of kefir/yoghurt
Tukhum Barak” is a beloved traditional dish from the Khiva region of Uzbekistan. It consists of middle-size dough pockets that are filled with a savoury egg-milk mixture, glued together and immediately boiled. You could say it’s a kind of local big ravioli,, but with egg filling.
“Beshbarmak” is a beloved traditional dish among the Turkic peoples, commonly found in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Karakalpakstan, and Uzbekistan. The name “Beshbarmak” translates to “five fingers” in reference to the traditional way of eating the dish – with the hands.
The preparation of “Beshbarmak” can vary from region to region, but typically involves boiled dough and meat. Traditional versions of the dish feature multiple types of meat, including lamb, beef, and even horse, although these are reserved for special occasions. The meat is boiled and then finely chopped when cold, with a portion of the broth left behind to be used in cooking the dough squares. The squares are then assembled into a loaf, topped with the meat and a little broth, and served alongside hot broth in a separate dish.
In Karakalpakstan, which is part of Uzbekistan, “Beshbarmak” is also made using turkey, while other regions of Uzbekistan use beef with added horsemeat sausage( “kazy”). While “Beshbarmak” is typically reserved for family celebrations or the reception of honored guests, it can also be found on the menus of restaurants in Tashkent and Karakalpakstan. In other cities of Uzbekistan, isolated restaurants may offer this dish.