Food in Uzbekistan is not really famed internationally so you’d be forgiven for being unsure as to what Uzbek cuisine is like. I’ll admit that wasn’t expecting much from food in Uzbekistan, however, in general it was quite tasty. Uzbek cuisine is very meat heavy, and also carb loaded in the form of delicious Uzbekistan bread, probably to help in the extreme winter. It’s not a country for fussy eaters, but if you’re open to try new things you may be pleasantly surprised.
There are lots of local specialities to try and below are some of my top recommendations of Uzbek cuisine that you have to try!
Trying horse milk in Uzbekistan
A speciality of Uzbek cuisine, horse milk was something I didn’t even realise people drank until I was offered it at a market.
Well horse milk 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. It seemed amongst the locals in our group that liking it was something of a national pride thing, and I’m certainly glad I tried it for the story, but it’s not something I’m in a rush to try again.
Eating Horse meat in Uzbekistan
Horses are farmed for meat in Uzbekistan and the meat is found everywhere fairly cheaply. Horse meat in Uzbekistan is seen as a delicacy. 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.
It’s unusual for us in Europe to eat horse meat and it did take a little while for me to get my head around it. Equally I’m not 100% sure of the ethics of eating horse meat but for those amongst us who are big foodies it’s worth a try especially if you’re keen to try a famous food in Uzbekistan.
Pon | Bread in Uzbekistan
No meal in Uzbekistan seems to be complete without at least a plate full of Uzbekistan bread. Cooked in a tandoor oven, the traditional Uzbekistan 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.
Pilaf | Famous dish in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan’s national dish is actually a Pilau. Similar to what you may have tried in India or in an Indian restaurant; 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
Dumplings are abundant in Uzbek cuisine; usually filled with beef and onions. They are cheap & easy to grab as a 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 are the dried fruit and vegetables, available in every variation possible including melon, chickpeas and grapes. Street food in Uzbekistan isn’t as easy to get your head around as in some places like Thailand, but dried fruit and kebabs are plentiful and recognisable if you’re a slightly more fussy eater.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to Uzbek cuisine. Make sure to try some specialities in Uzbek cuisine & if you’ve tried it then let us what you think the taste of Horse Milk is like!