Uzbek cuisine is one of the most diverse and distinguished among other oriental countries. Some of the Uzbek recipes are centuries-old and cooking accompanies the rituals which survived up to our days. About thousand of meals and recipes are known in the country, and the origination of them is dated before the Turkic and Mongolian invasions, and in the different regions of the countries they are cooked in their own way. In the northern parts of the country people prefer pilau, roasted meat, food made of dough and local round bread ("lepeshka"). In the southern regions many kinds of the compound meals with rice and vegetables are cooked as well as the delicious desserts. Mutton, horse-meat, delicious local soups with a lot of vegetables, vegetables themselves, soured-milk products and bread are popular for eating.
The bread is holy for the Uzbek people. For many centuries it is baked in tandyr (the round-shaped clay oven) as lepeshka (local round bread – "non") and after the baking they are sprinkled with different spices. Two types of lepeshkas are distinguished – "obi-non" (regular bread based on water and flour), "patyr" (holiday lepeshka baked of the flaky pastry with the mutton fat adding). As the local people think – the tastiest "lepeshkas" are baked in Samarkand, however, in the different regions of the country the recipes of the dough content are different. Sometimes rather distinctive recipes of the local bread are preserved, and the bread baked using them can be fresh for a long time.
Pilau is the most famous meal in Uzbekistan. According to the legends it was invented by Tamerlane, but the results of investigations reveal that it was known already dozen of centuries before the "Great Lame man". Pilau is popular both as everyday meals and for holidays. Being simple and multi-compound one – it is used almost in all parts of Central Asia. However, the Uzbek pilau is a very specific national notion. In different parts of the republic it is cooked in different ways – using mutton, beef, with spices (zira – anis seeds, barberry), with pepper and saffron, with garlic or dry apricots ("kuraga"), on the sesame or sunflower oil but all the time – with onion and carrot and rice. Only men cook the pilau with obligatory praying and delicate care in a special cauldron (kazan) and preferably – on the open fire.
he role of soups is also very important in the national cuisine of Uzbekistan. These soups are rather dense and rich in the vegetables, onion and greens with different spices. The most popular of them "shurpa" is, and many types of this soup are cooked.
The traditional Uzbek meat meals are "tukhum-dulma" cutlets, "kazy" (horse-meat sausage), different types of shashlyk ("kabob") and others. Usually the meat dishes are served with the fresh vegetables, salads of tomatoes and cucumbers ("achichuk"), "dimlama" (stewed vegetables and meat in layers). The meat is also served with airan (sour milk with water), local yogurts – "chakka" and "katyk", porridge of small beans, dense porridge of the maize flour, cheese and milk stuff ("kuezhapkha"), butter and different kinds of sauces.
It is considered that the meals made of flour make almost half of the local cuisine. Candies and bakery and cakes are changed 2-3 times during eating – before the meals, after and in between. The typical feature of the national baking is its making in the clay oven ("tandyrs") which provides for a very high temperature of roasting and baking and – respectively – the taste is delicious. Typical local pastries are "samsa" ("somsa") – the flaky pastries with meat or other stuffing, Uzbek khalva ("khalvaitar") which is prepared in forty five ways, "bekhi-dulma" – quince stuffed with the walnuts, "navat" – crystallized sugar, nuts covered with sugar, "chak-chak" (fried pieces of dough covered with honey), "nisholda" – type of the beat egg-white-and-sugar (beze) cake with a herb fragrance, a big variety of different dry fruits and nuts. Besides, Uzbekistan is famous for its fruits, grapes, melons and water-melons.
Tea is the main drink in Uzbekistan. Eating of meal begins from and is finished with tea-drinking. The process of this drink preparation is added with various traditions, rites and rules. Usually, this is a "pure" tea without any admixtures, though in the desert areas the milk or sugar are added to the tea. The most popular here the green tea ("kok choi") is which is sometimes mixed with the black tea ("mizhos-choi") or is brewed in the hot place for a long time ("rais-choi" – special kind of tea). Black tea ("kora choi") is the most popular in the capital, and people drink it also without any adding. That is why the tea with sugar got its own name – "kand-choi". Often different herbs and spices are added to the tea which gives it a unique taste and fragrance.