Not famed for it’s cuisine, I wasn’t expecting much from Uzbek food, but overall it has generally been quite tasty. Very meat heavy, and carb loaded probably to help in the extreme winters, it’s not a country for fussy eaters, but if you’re open to trying new things you may be pleasantly surprised.
An Uzbek speciality, horse milk was something I didn’t even realise people drank until I was offered it at a market. I say offered, I mean instructed to drink for the purpose of the show.
The market seller had a litre coke bottle full of it kept at outside temperature, which despite the freezing cold weather seemed to taste that horrible not quite cold but not quite warm level.The price was 5000 a cup, around 75c.
The lady opened the bottle which fizzed and frothed. Ick. I haven’t seen milk fizz before.
It smells very yeasty, and even less like cows milk than any none dairy equivalents I’ve seen before. Taste wise, I’m not a fan AT ALL and neither was anyone not a local in our group. It tasted like sour beer, and to be honest, rather like it shouldn’t be consumed. Our guide said that many people feel drunk if they have more than a small amount especially on an empty stomach.
Horses are farmed for meat in Uzbekistan and the meat is found everywhere fairly cheaply. It’s served in many forms, one of which is a noodle based broth which originated in Kazakhstan. The second version I saw at virtually every market we passed and is served as a plate piled high with shredded fried dough strips with tiny pieces of meat mixed in, topped by some horse meat sausage. The second dish was actually fairly tasty although quite heavy, the meat tasted rich like venison.
No meal in Uzbekistan seems to be complete without at least a plate full of bread. Cooked in a tandoor oven, the traditional bread is round & soft, often topped with sesame seeds and a lovely accompaniment to your meal. If you’re ordering meat as well at an outside grill, request your bread is reheated by sitting with the meat which also soaks up the juices and tastes delicious.
Uzbekistan’s national dish is actually a Pilau. Similar to what you’d expect back home, the rice is cooked with onions & carrots and usually meat such as beef or lamb. Expect it to be fairly oily but pretty tasty. The rice dish varies from province to province, with different types of rice, different vegetables & cuts of meat.
Dumplings, Kebabs & Dried Fruit
Steamed dumplings are abundant in Uzbekistan, usually filled with beef and onions, they are cheap & easy to grab for a quick snack from the side of the road. Most markets sell kebabs of various types, often keema or chicken, but also beef liver is quite popular. Another easy and cheap buy is the dried fruit & vegetables, available in every variation possible including melon, chickpeas & grapes.