About food in Central Asia

by Munisa Bairambekova

It is believed that laughter sounds brightest where there is good food. Come and try Central Asian cuisine to laugh heartily while tasting the most delicious dishes such as plov, manty, samsa, shashlyk, beshbarmak, lagman, borscht, the most delicious bread and much more.

The modest diet of nomadic peoples of the Eurasian steppes consisted mainly of dairy products, in smaller quantities - of game and plant food. The cuisine of Central Asia was influenced by Persian, Indian, Arab, Turkish, Chinese, Mongolian, African, and Russian cultures, as well as the culinary traditions of other diverse nomadic and sedentary civilizations. Migrations of Uyghurs, Slavs, Koreans, Tatars, Dungan and Germans into the region have contributed to its culinary diversity, making it fabulously colorful.

Now we are going to take you on a little journey through the colorful and delicious cuisine of Central Asia.

First of all, bread: Tandyr Nan Patyr Nan. Here in Central Asia, a table is never complete without a bread. Central Asians are used to eating bread at every meal. On holidays and special days, most people usually bake bread in an oven known as a tandyr (tandoori). As you travel, you will find that the taste and shape of the bread differs slightly from place to place. Another interesting fact is that this bread is considered sacred.

Fresh breads from traditional clay oven, Uzbekistan
Plov is a dish from the heart of Central Asia, ideal for sit-down meals, simple and delicious, containing rice, lamb and carrots. This dish is so significant that it is included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, maintained by Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. To determine who will make the best pilaf, competitions are held all over the country. That is why it is offered at all significant festivals and holidays, as it has a huge social and cultural value for the local population. There are almost 200 different variants of plov.
Homemade plov
Beshbarmak is the national dish of Kyrgyzstan, but it is also found in neighboring countries. Literally translated, it means "five fingers", as in earlier times people ate it with their fingers.

Shashlyk is a delicacy that is highly respected and popular in a region stretching from Central Asia to Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. It is often prepared from lamb or beef, alternating between marinated and well-marinated cuts of meat and fat. It is usually served with pickled onions.

Samsa is another common local fast food that can be made at home or bought almost anywhere there are cafes. In Central Asia, they are never fried; instead, they are always stuffed with meat and onions and baked. Sometimes cheese or potatoes are added to samosas.
And the list goes on and on....
Central Asian cuisine is not just about meat; there are many restaurants in the major cities and a wide variety of dishes on the menu. Vegetarians can try manti with potatoes or pumpkin, lentil soup, pilaf cooked without meat, vegetarian pizza or side dishes of vegetables, potatoes, rice or pasta. However, Middle Easterners believe that meat dishes are considered the best dishes here. Vegetarians are certainly welcome to travel in Central Asia, but make sure your guide and hosts make it clear that you don't want to eat meat.
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