• Updated : 2018.11.16 금 19:33
> Culture > Travelogue
Energy and Taste: Back to Sweet Home
Nicky & Molly, 수습기자  |  niginanagina@gmail.com
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승인 2017.11.10  18:05:50
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     Some people may think that the only dish of the Uzbek kitchen is pilaf. However, it is far from being so. The Uzbek national kitchen has a long history and is closely connected with the Uzbek culture, language, traditions, climatic and geographical conditions. Unlike their geographical neighbors (Kazakhs, Karakalpaks, Kyrgyz, and Turkmens), who have always lived only a nomadic way of life, the Uzbeks in the course of their history have been both nomads and settlers. This, together with the adoption of the culinary traditions of the Persian and Tajik cultures, made the local kitchen highly diverse and original. Most of the Uzbek dishes, such as pilaf and lagman, have common roots with similar dishes from the kitchens of other Asian nations. However, Uzbekistan has its own special ways of cooking these meals and its own special dishes. Although the principal dishes were formed thousands of years ago, the Uzbek kitchen has been enriched by new ingredients and cooking methods taken from the Russian, Ukrainian, Caucasian, Tartar, Uighur and European cuisines. Today, while you are reading this article we will take you on an imaginary tour of Uzbekistan’s delightful cuisine. Welcome to the magical world!

   
▲ Imarova Mokhinur (left) and Khamdamova Nigina

Break Your Fast and Enjoy Your Meal
    A long time ago, early bird Uzbek women used to wake up before sunrise and bake round-formed bread in a traditional oven, called ‘tandoor’, and prepared breakfast for the whole family. Conventionally, an Uzbek breakfast table consists of tea, qaymaq, chalpak, holvaytar and milky products. As a tea loving nation, a cup of tea is served with every meal and is regarded as a symbol of hospitality. If a host offers tea to his guest, it means he is happy to see him at his home. The tea is usually served with sugar or with a slice of lemon or a mint to make it healthier and tastier.
Chalpak is a traditional Central Asian flatbread commonly consumed from all over the region. The main ingredients of Chalpak are flour, milk, sugar, butter, sour cream, baking soda, salt and vegetable oil. The dough is shaped into balls and fried in hot vegetable oil until reaching a golden color. Chalpak can also be prepared with yeast so that the dough stays soft for a longer period of time.
    Next, there are not many national desserts to choose from, but if you have a sweet tooth, you can also try this Uzbek version of halvah, a flour-based confection that has a creamy nut flavor: Holvaytar. The process of holvaytar preparation is easy. Boil sugar and water together to make syrup. Meanwhile, put flour in oil until it turns brown. When it is done, slowly add hot syrup, boil, and stir continuously until it becomes as thick as cream. When it is ready, it can be served on a plate with nuts as a decoration.

Life Is Short, Enjoy Your Lunch
    Orson Welles, an American actor and filmmaker, once said, ‘Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.’ which is also connected to ‘First we eat, then we do everything else’ by M.F.K. Fisher. If you ever get a chance to go to Uzbekistan, you will definitely get to try palov, somsa, shakarop that are frequently eaten for Uzbek lunch meals. Palov, so-called ‘osh’, is the number one traditional Uzbek food and is similar to Korean Ppokimpab. Palov is made of rice, carrots, onions, meats, oil and with a variety of spices that each add a special taste. Palov, when it is ready, is usually served with a salad called ‘Achichuk Salad’ that is made of sliced tomatoes and onions seasoned with spice.
    Like most of the Uzbekistan foods that have complex recipes and require manual work, samsa takes almost three hours to prepare. A triangular dough pastry is baked in a tandoor oven so that the bread is both crunchy and super-soft. Samsa can be filled with a variety of things, including ground lambs, herbs, and, the most interesting traditional option, pumpkins.

   
 

What Is for Dinner?
    One of the first food nutritionists of the 19th century, Adelle Davis, said ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’ and there is a commonly known similar belief in our country too. As Uzbeks strongly follow this assumption, they eat meals for dinner that are only easy to digest. For instance, soup, mastava, and chuchvara are mostly seen on the dinner table.
    Soup or so-called shurpa is prepared with large pieces of meats, potatoes, carrots, and onions. A soup is made of fatty meats (usually mutton) and fresh vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, and sliced onions. Sometimes Shurpa is prepared with turnips or peas. In several areas potatoes, fresh tomatoes and sweet peppers are added. There are two versions of soup: Kaynatma, made of fresh meat and boiled for long hours, and Kovurma, made of fried meat.
    Another dish that we have for dinner is chuchvara, which is the most widespread national dish. It is similar to Italian ravioli and Chinese dumplings. Uzbek dumplings, however, are different from them because of its taste and cooking methods. The ingredients for chuchvara are flour, eggs, water, and salt. We make a dough by baking it for 40-50 minutes until it rises. For the stuffing, we cut beef or mutton in slices and pass it through a grinder with onions, cold water, pepper, salt, and thyme. A small drop of stuffing should be dropped onto a slice of dough, after which the corners are pinched and folded. When the ends are connected, it should form a half moon shape with a small hole in the middle. Chuchvara should be boiled in salt water or bouillon and served with "suzma" (sour milk), and seasoned with pepper, onion and tomato paste, with black pepper or sour cream.

Happiness Is Homemade
    The foods described above are just a drop in the ocean because there are too many delightful Uzbek foods to mention. There are more than a hundred types of national food in Uzbekistan, which are calorie-rich, healthy and super yummy. If you have the desire to increase your life expectancy, we would strongly advise you to go to Uzbekistan and try palatable national foods and enjoy yourself. Without any doubt, the best place for having Uzbek meals is at a local person’s house or a mother’s food with love.
 

By Khamdamova Nigina, Cub-Reporter
Imarova Mokhinur, Cub-Reporter

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