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The Uzbek Cuisine and tea ceremony

The Uzbek Cuisine.

The Uzbek cuisine is one of the most colorful Oriental Cuisines. You will be amazed to find some of the recipes are centuries old. There are about 1000 different dishes and these include national drinks, cakes and confectionary products.
The development of the cuisine benefited much from the new crops which had come from the countries of the Great Silk Road. Moreover, the local rulers used to bring the best culinary experts from the conquered lands.
Uzbek plov is a very solemn dish. It can be considered as an everyday dish as well as dish for solemn and great events like weddings, parties and holidays. Its recipe varies from one locality to another. But the basic ingredients for all kinds of plov are the same: meat (preferably mutton), rice, carrots (yellow or red), onions and three spices: pepper, barberries and cumin seeds, which create its characteristic taste. Other special spices, raisins, peas or quince may be added to give it extra flavor. It makes this dish very tasty and useful especially after long illnesses. However, locals believe that the best plov is always prepared by a man. Salads called "achchichu", made of tomato and onion, are served as additional dishes to the plov. One very famous Uzbek appetizer is "kazy" horse sausage.
Special importance is placed on soups. Uzbek’s soup is rich with vegetables and seasonings and contains lots of carrots, turnips, onions and greens. Popular soups available are mastava, qaynatma sho’rva (boiled soup) and mokhora (chick pea soup).
To cook a qaynatma sho’rva, large pieces of fatty mutton (the ribs or the brisket) are put into cold water, brought to a boil and coddled, removing the foam from time to time. When the foam is no longer formed, pods of Chile peppers and cumin seeds are put into the broth. Some 45 to 50 minutes before the meat is cooked you add fresh tomatoes and whole or cut carrots. Some 10 or 15 minutes later you put in whole or halved potatoes, and 15 to 20 minutes before the soup is ready you add onions cit in rings, and salt. Cooked meat ant potatoes are taken out of the broth and cut into smaller pieces. The broth is poured into the serving bowls, and the meat and potatoes are either put into the broth or served separately. The soup is seasoned with finely cut herbs. The sho’rva is served along with hot flat - cakes.
Traditionally any Uzbek feast treatment finishes with the mutton or beef kebab Shashlik (skewered chunks of mutton barbecued over charcoal - kebabs - served with sliced raw onions). Gourmets especially value jigar - kebab made of sheep's liver. The most tasty shashliks (shish kebabs) in Uzbekistan are cooked in a small town Gizhduvan, 45 km away from Bukhara. Gizhduvan is also famous for other types of national dishes. You can also find cafes serving Bukhara and Gizhduvan dishes in other towns and cities of Uzbekistan too.Uzbek cuisine can't be considered as such without the flaky pasty somsa, which has minced meat and a piece of fat of sheep's tail inside; or the original ravioli - like Uzbek manty, which are filled with meat, potatoes or sweet pumpkin, and cooked in steam. Besides them, in hotel restaurants and other cafes you can find some food which shows a strong Russian influence: borsch is a cabbage soup , entrecote is well - done steak, cutlet are grilled meat balls and strogan is the local equivalent of Beef Stroganoff. Pelmeni originated in Ukraine and are small boiled noodle sacks of meat and vegetables, similar to ravioli, sometimes served in a vegetable soup. So, If you visit Uzbekistan, try the local cuisine, and don't forget to ask the hosts for the recipe of the dish which You liked best.
One of the famous Eastern candies is halva made of wheat flour, sugar with nuts or sesame seeds as toppings. Halva is especially sweet and delicious and is considered a must at weddings. It is customary for an Uzbek youth during courtship, to bring halva for his fiancée. When a baby girl is born into an Uzbek family, she is usually refers to as "halva". There are 50 different types of halva in Uzbekistan.
Fragrant, oven - hot, with a crisp crust and an inside so tender and soft that it seems weightless… These are all about appetizing Uzbek flat cakes. Flat cakes in Uzbekistan are of two varieties: common and fancy. Common flat cakes (obi - non) are baked from wheat flour with leaven. Their surface is glossy and sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds. Fancy flat cakes, called "Patyr", may be baked from either fancy pastry or puff - pastry dough into which mutton fat is added giving them their characteristic taste and keeping them fresh for a long time. There is quite a number of recipes of Uzbek flat cakes, and as many different names. Samarkand flat cakes, which include about 20 varieties, are famed throughout Uzbekistan. They all have different names and recipes as well as nourishing and aromatic qualities. Each flat cake is decorated with its own pattern, often very intricate and beautiful.
Bread is considered to be holy for the Uzbek people. According to the tradition, when someone leaves the family he bites a small piece of Obi - non and it is kept until the traveler comes back and eats the whole bread. Anyone who finds a piece of bread that is unfortunately left on the ground, should take it up and kiss it before attaching it to the forehead three times and leave it there for a while.Traditionally Uzbek breads are baked inside the stoves made of clay called tandyr.

The Uzbek Tea ceremony.

Tea is the staple drink of Central Asia, and chai - khanas (tea houses) can be found almost everywhere in Uzbekistan, full of old men chatting the afternoon away with a pot of tea in the shade. In every Uzbek house a guest is always offered a piala (a small bowl) of aromatic green tea. According to the original Uzbek tea ceremony the tea from the teapot that has just been filled with boiling water to brew is to be poured into the piala and returned to the teapot three times. The first returning is called "loy", the second "moy" and only after the third time it becomes "choy" or tea. Only in this way all the aroma and flavor of the tea is believed to emerge. As a token of respect for the guest the host fills only one - half of the piala, and then, putting the left hand to his heart, with his right hand holds out this piala to the guest. At the same time the fresh flat round Uzbek bread is served.