Uzbekistan is not the best country for conventional tourism, but it has a lot to offer when it comes to traditional cuisine that features all sorts of noodles and kebabs. However, two trademark dishes here are Shurpa and Pilaf. If you want to have a heavy meal that will make you feel full for the rest of the day, start packing right now and go to Uzbekistan.
Pilaf and Its Types
Pilaf is made in every single city and town. Each region has its own unique method of cooking this dish. In some regions, only men are allowed to cook it while in other places women are supposed to be cooking. Pilaf has different flavors and toppings in Tashkent, Samarkand, and Fergana.
There are three essential components of a good pilaf:
1. Rice (the type of rice depends on the region);
2. Meat (the type of meat does not really matter);
3. Carrots (some use yellow carrots while in other places traditional orange is more popular).
Depending on the region, you may see other toppings and additions such as potato, raisins, dried apricot, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and greens. Pilaf is a traditional dish that you can try literally everywhere. Street stands with huge woks are on every corner.
Cooks throw vegetable oil, meat, onion, and carrots in woks and start stir frying. When the time is right, rice is added to the mix. After a while, you start seeing how rice is being colored by carrots and caramelized onion. This is also the moment when you realize that you have been living in a wrong place for ecades.
Shurpa – your real prize for visiting Uzbekistan
Shurpa is an amazing yet simple soup made of various parts of a goat. Mutton meat, intestines, parts of skin, legs, stomach, liver, kidneys, and many other parts of the animal are used here depending on the recipe and local customs. Shurpa is a very heavy meal that will fill you up with fats and meaty flavors.
Note that this is a challenge for an unprepared stomach. You should never drink cold water (it can be life-threateningly dangerous due to the amount of fat that you eat, cold water can solidify fats). Instead of cold beverages and sodas, you will be offered hot tea with milk or alcohol. Places where Islam is not overwhelmingly popular have restaurants where you can drink vodka. Trust us, nothing beats the combination of shurpa and vodka.
Shurpa and Pilaf are two reasons that you need to visit this traditional Muslim country with friendly people and amazing street cuisine!