What's the food like in Uzbekistan?
Although Uzbek cuisine varies from region to region, it shares similarities with much of the rest of Central Asia. There's a wide use of meats such as mutton and beef, with a variety of fruit available in summer and autumn. Expect to see grapes, pomegranates and apricots, as well as mountains of honeydew and watermelons sold at markets and by the roadside.
Uzbeks tend to sit at the floor or at a low table known as a dastarkhan and eat by hand. At the start of the meal the table is served with sweets and fruits, which are followed by salads and vegetables. Next is the soup course, where you might enjoy bowls of a noodle soup known as lagman or a soup called shurpa, which consists of large chunks of lamb or beef with vegetables.
This is finally followed by main dishes such as plov - a mixture of rice, meat, grated carrot, onions and raisins. Other typical examples include meat-stuffed dumplings known as manti and shashlik, the Uzbek version of the kebab.
With such a heavy focus on meat in traditional Uzbek cuisine, vegetarians and vegans will struggle to find suitable dishes. It’s best to order specially prepared food if you have any dietary requirements and bring additional snacks from your home country.
Green tea is the staple drink in Uzbekistan, with tea houses known as chai-khanas found across the country. Coffee isn't popular and can be difficult to find in some areas.
Safe eating while travelling in Uzbekistan
As Uzbek cuisine features plenty of meat, it’s important to ensure that food is cooked thoroughly and served hot. Avoid anything that looks unclean or under cooked and ensure fruit and vegetables are washed with treated water.