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Uzbek Cuisine

Uzbek cuisine is influenced by local agriculture, as in most nations. There is a great deal of grain farming in Uzbekistan, so breads and noodles are of importance and Uzbek cuisine has been characterized as "noodle-rich". Mutton is a popular variety of meat due to the abundance of sheep in the country and it is a part of various Uzbek dishes.
Uzbekistan's signature dish is palov (plov or osh), a main course typically made with rice, pieces of meat, and grated carrots and onions. Oshi nahor, or "morning plov", is served in the early morning (between 6 and 9 am) to large gatherings of guests, typically as part of an ongoing wedding celebration. Other notable national dishes include shurpa (shurva or shorva), a soup made of large pieces of fatty meat (usually mutton) and fresh vegetables; norin and lagman, noodle-based dishes that may be served as a soup or a main course; manti, chuchvara, and somsa, stuffed pockets of dough served as an appetizer or a main course; dimlama (a meat and vegetable stew) and various kebabs, usually served as a main course.
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 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.
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.

Plov

The main national dish of Uzbekistan is plov. Normally, festive plov is cooked from mutton and rice with adding of a large amount of carrot and onion, as well as spices. Each ingredient of plov has a symbolic meaning, while holiday supper with plov has a ritual meaning connected to ancient traditions. Plov is cooked by ancient recipes and has a lot of varieties. For wedding ceremony, that plays a significant role in Uzbek people's ceremonies, a special plov for weddings is cooked. In each region, there are their own secrets of cooking of this dish that create its unique taste and aroma. Normally, plov is served up on a big flat dish. According to the ancient tradition plov is eaten with hands from one common dish, however, now, especially in cities, you can see more often that it is eaten with using of spoons and sometimes forks. Plov is always dished up with lepeshkas.

Shurpa, mastava

Among the liquid dishes, various kinds of Shurpa and Mastava take an important place in Uzbek national cuisine. The basis of these dishes is the bouillon of fatty meat. Shurpa and Mastava are prepared from fresh or pre-fried meat, most often from fresh mutton. Important components are sliced carrots and onion rings, which are added fresh. Sometimes Shurpa is prepared with turnips or peas. In several areas potatoes, fresh tomatoes and sweet peppers are added. Shurpa is subdivided into Kaytnama (shurpa from fresh meat) and Kovurma (shurpa from fried meat). Kaytnama - shurpa is the most popular and has a gentle taste and aroma. The meat is cooked in large pieces, and the vegetables - whole or in large pieces. Cooking should be done on a slow fire and it is impossible to allow a vigorous boil.

Samsa

Samsa is prepared in all areas of Uzbekistan with various fillings: meat, pumpkin, herbs, etc. Samsa is baked in a tandoor oven, as well as in gas ovens and on electric plates. For samsa, ordinary stiff dough is mixed, left for 20-30 minutes, and then unrolled in plaits and cut into pieces of 10-15 grams. It should not be thicker than 2-2.5 mm. The edges are thinner than the middle. The filling is put in the center, folded in the dough and baked at a high temperature. For the dough, the following ingredients are required: flour - 25 g, water - 105 g, salt - 6 g; for the filling - mutton or beef fillet - 150 g, fat - 35 g, onion- 250 g, caraway - 1 g, salt and pepper.

Manty

After plov, manty is the most widespread and favorite dish of Uzbeks because in many regions mantys are dished up at the end of the meal. In Ferghana valley, Samarkand, Tashkent and Bukhara manty is one of the most important components of ration of local population. In other regions they are rarely cooked. Mantys are cooked from mixed in water stiff dough which is rolled out in slices with 4-5mm thickness and being cut into squares of 12x12 cm size. Minced meat, minced vegetables or greens can be a stuffing. Mantys are steamed during 35-45 minutes in special pots (kaskans). They are dished up with katik or sour cream.
The "choyhona" (teahouse) is a cornerstone of traditional Uzbek society. Always shaded, preferably situated near a cool stream, the choyhona is a gathering place for social interaction and fraternity. Robed Uzbek men congregate around low tables centred on beds adorned with ancient carpets, enjoying delicious plov, shashlik, kebabs and endless cups of green tea.