Uzbekistan is well-known for its Islamic architecture of the Registan in Samarkand, the ancient walled city of Khiva and the towering Kalyan Minaret of Bukhara. But what people do not hear much about the country is its unique and exceptional cuisine.
The Uzbek cuisine is widely influenced by other countries from all over Asia and the Middle East. They also share many culinary traditions with Turkey.
Most Popular Dishes of Uzbekistan
Noodle and dumpling dishes feature heavily in traditional Uzbek cuisine, which you will notice from our list of top dishes. There is also a great deal of grain farming in their country which has characterized them as a noodle-rich country.
Due to the abundance of sheep in Uzbekistan, mutton is the most popular meat used in Uzbek cooking. Locals always serve locally-sourced organic vegetables and freshly butchered meat. Uzbek dishes rarely use artificial flavors, frozen food or colorings.
In addition, the Uzbek menu is greatly influenced by the seasons, specifically winter and summer. They have abundant food resources which has allowed them to express their hospitality which has in turn enriched their cuisine.
Here are the absolute must-try dishes of Uzbekistan, loved by both locals and tourists!
Plov is a hearty rice pilaf and is considered the national dish of Uzbekistan. In this dish, a portion of rice is cooked together with beef or lamb, onions, garlic, carrots, apricots and raisins.
Plov is not only the most famous dish in Uzbekistan but also one of the most outrageously delicious! It is widely available at virtually every restaurant in Uzbekistan, but to really experience its authenticity, it’s best if you head to the Plov Center in the city to try it out.
Typically this dish is cooked in the gigantic iron called “kazans” and it is served with bread, tea, and salads.
Shashlik is a Russian word for “shish kabob” which is simply grilled skewered meat. It became popular in Central Asia during the time of the far-reaching Russian empire.
In Uzbekistan, there are several options for Shashlik which includes cubes of lamb or beef, chicken legs, a pinwheel of lean, and fatty beef or ground beef. Since it is from a majority-Muslim country, pork is a very unlikely variant.
Some are considered lucky when they are offered with Shashlik that is made with horse meat. If you prefer a less meaty Shashlik, you can also order grilled skewers of mushrooms, bell peppers, potatoes and tomatoes.
Lagman is the term from the Dungan word, “lyumyan” which means to stretch the dough to make a noodle-pasta. Lagman soup is particularly one of the most popular dishes in Uzbekistan.
It is usually served with a hearty noodle stew in which the stew is seasoned with parsley, cumin seed, and basil. This dish also includes lamb, onions, bell peppers, carrots, garlic, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Another way of cooking hand-pulled Lagman noodles is by making a stir-fried noodle from it. Since the noodle is made from scratch, you can really savor the freshness and authenticity of the dish.
The taste is similar to fried spaghetti because it consists of peppers, tomato paste, onions, and other vegetables that are pan-fried. It’s best to top it off with a fried egg and have it as a snack or even a course in a meal.
Shurpa is a famous Uzbek lamb soup that can be found in every eatery in their country. Aside from the chunks of lamb incorporated in this dish, it also has vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions.
Parsley and fresh dill are some of the spices that are added to the soup for flavoring. This dish is such a great starter to any meal especially during the colder months.
Dimlama is usually associated with the harvest time in Uzbekistan. It is a robust one-pot stew that is full of meat, onions, potatoes, carrots, peppers, cabbage, and garlic.
To prepare Dimlama, the ingredients are quite simply layered in a deep pan that is covered and simmered for several hours. During spring and fall, you will discover this dish as a seasonal special.
Manti are large steamed dumplings that are filled with ground lamb or beef in which extra fat is added to enhance the flavor.
These dumplings are traditionally eaten without utensils and are served with yogurt for dipping. There are also other varieties of Manti that have other ingredients like turnips, pumpkin or potatoes.
Chuchvara are smaller versions of Manti. These dumplings can be served steamed, fried or even in a soup, depending on one’s preference.
Among the three kinds of servings, a lot of people love the soup because it is quite similar to Chinese wonton soup. It is also a great appetizer and becomes exceptionally good when topped with fresh dill.
Another way of eating Chuchvara is when it is fried. It is much easier to eat than the steamed one which makes it a great dish for sharing with a large group of people.
Chuchvara is often served at parties or even weddings. It is usually served piping hot and is best to dip in cold yogurt or sour cream.
Samsa is yet another popular style of preparing dumplings in Uzbekistan. It is kind of similar to Manti because it is also filled with lamb, beef and extra lamb fat for added flavoring.
It is a staple breakfast food in Uzbekistan because having a plate full of it paired with a cup of tea is a very traditional morning starter. It becomes a flaky pastry after being baked in an oven.
There is also potato and onion Samsa, but it is usually full of ground meat and extra fat.