A major stop along the ancient Silk Road, Samarkand has emerged as one of the world’s true culinary destinations. The various ethnic groups that have passed through the city all left their delectable mark on Uzbek food, which fuses Turkic, Tajik, Mongolian, Russian, Jewish, and other traditions.
The main ingredients include meat (mostly mutton), vegetables, flour, and plenty of fat. Bread is a staple (known locally as nan, patir, or lepeshka), generally cooked in a tandoor oven. Noodle dishes and hearty soups stave off chilly winter temps. A few must-trys:
This lamb and rice pilaf dish is so synonymous with Uzbekistan, it was recognized on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Each region of the country serves its own variety; Samarkan plov adds yellow carrots.
Also known as basma, this slow-cooked stew is another Uzbek essential. Lamb, potatoes, peppers, and other ingredients are layered, with a final topping of cabbage to seal in the moisture.
A thick soup that warms you to the bones. Made with rice, meat, potatoes, and other vegetables, served with a dollop of sour cream.
These triangular puff pastries, served hot out of the tandoor, are at once crunchy, soft, and so-so-good. They can be filled with lamb, beef, onions, herbs, and even pumpkin.
Tasty little steamed dumplings that are stuffed with a variety of meat, spices, or vegetables, sprinkled with dill, and served with sour cream or a yogurt sauce.
Uzbek kebabs skewer chunks of lamb or lyulya (a mix of mutton and spices) topped with raw onions and often served with adjika, a hot red pepper sauce.
This spicy soup combines hand-pulled, stretched noodles with plenty of meat and vegetables.
Food For Thought: Travel writer Caroline Eden and food writer Eleanor Ford takes you on an evocative culinary journey (complimented by brilliant photography) in Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & The Caucasus. $24; amazon.com