In a nation where "hospitality is rated higher than courage", it is not surprising that the cuisine is bountiful. From the days of the Silk Road caravans, the meal laid out for a guest was never simple or plain fare - every inch of the table was covered with delicacies, enough for several helpings, and the bonds created over those meals often became lasting friendships.
Uzbekistan shares much of its culinary tradition with some neighboring countries as well as serving up a wide number of noodle and dumpling dishes that bear a close resemblance to their counterparts in China, Nepal, and other Eastern Asian countries. However, there are often local twists.
Much of the food in Uzbekistan is pretty heavy going. Be prepared for lots of potatoes, bread, and rice, as well as big hearty warming dishes like stews. If you’re visiting in summer these might seem a bit much, but on cold nights the Uzbek cuisine is utterly perfect! 
A lot of Uzbek dishes involve meat. Although it’s definitely possible to find vegetarian options, meat is pretty prominent in the local cuisine. The most common meats in Uzbekistan are mutton and beef. 
Horsemeat is also popular in Uzbekistan, so if you’ve never tried it before now’s the time. It’s similar to beef, but with a more gamey flavor.
The signature dish in Uzbekistan is plov – also called palov or pilaf. Plov is so integral to Uzbek cuisine that it’s been featured by UNESCO on their list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Plov is widely considered to be the national dish of Uzbekistan. It’s a hearty rice pilaf and you’ll probably notice that the word “plov” and “pilaf” are essentially the same. You can expect a heaping portion of rice that has been cooked together with lamb or beef, onions, garlic, raisins, carrots and apricots. Plov is not only the most famous dish in Uzbekistan, it is also one of the most delicious.
You’ll find that most restaurants serving Uzbek food offer plov as an option, but if you want to truly experience it you’ll want to head to a “Plov Center” in one of the cities you’re visiting. In Tashkent, take a trip to the Plov Centre to see this typical Uzbek dish being prepared in huge cauldrons. Some 700,000 kg of plov is prepared in that center every day, so it is a pretty impressive sight.
Depending who you ask, there are anything up to 35 Uzbek variations of the dish. You’ll often find it served with sausage, eggs, raisins, or with various other additions. Therefore, you can never really have too much plov, as there is always something new to try.

Lagman (sometimes also spelled “lag’mon”) is another extremely popular food in Uzbekistan. The most common way that lagman is served is as a hearty noodle stew that includes lamb, onions, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and garlic. The rich broth is also seasoned with cumin seed, parsley and basil.
The term “lagman” is derived from the Dungan word, “lyumyan” which means to “stretch the dough”, and lagman noodles are typically hand pulled, giving them a deliciously chewy texture that you would pay top dollar for in Italy or Korea.
When in doubt about what to order in Uzbekistan, lagman is generally a great choice especially if it’s cold outside!
Fried lagman - another wonderful way to enjoy those delicious hand-pulled lagman noodles is stir-fried. The noodles are pan-fried with peppers, onions, tomatoes paste and whatever other vegetables the kitchen has on hand. It basically tastes like stir-fried spaghetti. And, if you’re lucky, you might find it topped with a fried egg.

Shashlik is simply skewered meat cooked on the grill. The word “shashlik”, in fact, is just the Russian word for “shish kabob”, and this style of cooking became widespread in Central Asia. 
Basically, shashlik kebabs involve cubes of beef or lamb, chicken legs, “meat rolls” threaded onto skewers, sometimes alternating with vegetables such as peppers, onions and tomatoes. These skewers are grilled, usually over wood or coal, which makes them a perfect street food snack. You’ll often find them at markets and roadsides throughout Uzbekistan. 
Given that most Uzbeks are Muslim, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter any pork while you’re in the country but at Armenian or Georgian restaurants which are quite popular in Tashkent. But if you’re lucky you might be offered some shashlik made with horse meat. Also, if you’re feeling overloaded on meat during your time in Uzbekistan you can often order grilled skewers of potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers.

Somsas, or samsas, will be one of your favourite foods in Uzbekistan. They remind of mini Cornish pasties and are utterly delicious. Put simply, dumplings filled these small pastries with meat and potatoes. You can also get veggie ones made with vegetables and/or cheese.  They are also filled with lamb or beef and an extra helping of lamb fat for flavor. They are then baked in an oven, resulting in a flaky pastry that is a staple breakfast food in Uzbekistan. In fact, a plate full of samsas and a pot of tea is a very traditional start to a morning in Uzbekistan.
You’ll occasionally encounter potato and onion samsa, but generally, you can expect them to be full of the delicious mix of chopped or ground meat and fat.
Green tea is the national hot beverage taken throughout the day; teahouses (chaikhanas) are of cultural importance. The more usual black tea is preferred in Tashkent, both green and black teas are typically taken without milk or sugar. Tea always accompanies a meal, but it is also a drink of hospitality, automatically offered green or black to every guest. Ayran, a chilled yogurt drink, is popular in summer, but does not replace hot tea.

If the bazaar is the place where one can find out the latest news, the chaikhana is the place to discuss it in depth. These tea houses, preferably situated near a stream of clear water, with a central samovar to hold the tea, and low tables on mats for the guests to sit around, are the perfect place for men to discuss just about anything. It is at the chaikhana that men will cook up a pilaf, between endless cups of green tea, and also reach important decisions about the next project for the mahallya.
The choice of desserts in uzbek cuisines are limited. A typical festive meal ends with fruit or a compote of fresh or dried fruit, followed by nuts and halvah with green tea. A Bukharan jewish specialty for guests on a shabbat afternoon is chai kaymoki - green tea mixed, contrary to the standard uzbek practice, with a generous measure of milk (in 1:1 proportions) and a tablespoon of butter in the teapot. The tea is sometimes sprinkled with chopped almonds or walnuts before serving.
The use of alcohol is less widespread than in the west, but wine is comparatively popular for a muslim nation as Uzbekistan is largely secular. Uzbekistan has 14 wineries, the oldest and most famous being the Khovrenko winery in Samarkand (est. 1927). The Samarkand winery produces a range of dessert wines from local grape varieties: gulyakandoz, shirin, aleatiko, and kabernet likernoe (literally cabernet dessert wine in Russian). Uzbek wines have received international awards and are exported to Russia and other countries.

Get in Touch