The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan represents a unique cultural blend of dazzling architecture, a rich history, and delicious food. Located along the historic Silk Road, Uzbekistan served as a crossroads for international trade for thousands of years. Cities like Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and Tashkent flourished economically as caravans connected the continents of Europe and Asia.
Uzbek food in particular is a culinary combination with roots from all over Asia and the Middle East. The countries most beloved dish is plov. A dish seeped in Uzbekistan’s rich history, plov is said to have been made famous during the time of Amir Timur, the famous Uzbek conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire in the 1300s. Once used to feed Timur’s armies, plov is now eaten at nearly every special occasion in Uzbekistan and beloved as a staple in the region.
Plov is typically prepared with rice, meat (beef or lamb will do), onions, carrots, garlic and dried fruit including sultanas or barberries cooked in giant cauldrons called kazans. While typically a family dish, plov is professional cooked by oshpaz who often service several hundred guests from a single pot.
When traveling to Uzbekistan, plov is readily available at just about every restaurant. But if you want to fully experience the dish, you’ll want to head to a “Plov Center”, like Habib Abdullayev in Tashkent, in one of the cities you visit. Here you will find that plov represents more than a national staple for Uzbekistan, but speaks to the country’s hospitality, community, and identity.
Interested in preparing your own plov at home? Try out this recipe. If you don’t have a kazan lying around, you can substitute a cast-iron casserole dish. Or experience the dish in person and plan your next adventure to Uzbekistan today!