Recent Posts

Winter Picnic with Barleycup

Winter Picnic with Barleycup

Some of you have said recently that you are trying to switch from coffee to an alternative drink, to cut down on your caffeine intake. While caffeine does have a number of health benefits for some adults, if you exceed the recommended daily allowance, it […]

Healthy Snacks for Adults and Kids: Nim’s Crisps

Healthy Snacks for Adults and Kids: Nim’s Crisps

January will come quicker than I want and after indulging at the Christmas table, I know I will be on the look out for healthy snacks for myself and my family.  I want to share with you a completely natural product, which is entirely fat, […]

Christmas Gift Ideas: The Towel Shop

Christmas Gift Ideas: The Towel Shop

It is not a secret that pyjamas are an all time favourite gift for Christmas. But this year, I suggest a slight spin on this tradition: give a bathrobe! Warm and fluffy it will keep you dry after the shower, or if you want an extra layer on your pyjamas, it will also do the job perfectly! 

I ordered navy bathrobe gown from the Towel Shop and was  impressed by the quality of the material. It is soft to touch and keeps me warm on those chilly mornings in the bathroom, while my radiators are getting warm! 

The colour of this bathrobe will be great for both men and women, it is not too dark and looks very luxurious. However, if you are not a fan of blue colour, there are other colour options available. 

The design features a shawl collar style with a belt and pockets, so you can adjust the fit the way you like, as well as use the pockets for tissues, glasses or cookies!

As an idea, pair your gift of a bathrobe with a bright towel in a contrasting colour. I always find that towels are extremely practical gifts – they are constantly in use and brighten up the bathroom space!

I have ordered the towel bale, which is very convenient as you are sent a whole set of towels without having to think which sizes you need. My set included two towel sheets and two hand towels, we use this type of towels most of all, especially hand towels for kids. 

Both items available on The Towel Shop website and they are running a fantastic sale just now with many items featuring big discounts of 40% to 20% off. Happy shopping and I am sure both of these items will make a great gift!

Product Review: Lost Sheep Coffee

Product Review: Lost Sheep Coffee

One of the prettiest towns in Kent is Whitstable: seaside location, great food and plenty of independent shops and small producers. I was delighted to discover Lost Sheep Coffee, which is roasted in Whitstable and grown in Colombia. The packaging is lovely, the colours are […]

Best Gifts for Travel Lovers

Best Gifts for Travel Lovers

What do you give someone who loves travelling? A plane ticket would be an obvious answer,  but it is not always possible due to budget constraints. I am saying: ” Inspiration books!”  These are going to create some wanderlust for your travel obsessed friends or family members. […]

Cooking Plov in Tashkent: CookBook Workshop

Cooking Plov in Tashkent: CookBook Workshop

The one dish, which you have to try in Uzbekistan, is plov. Plov is many things: it is love, it is family, it is  a wedding and it is health. I recommend that you try plov in every city and town that you go to in Uzbekistan, as they will be all different, but delicious. 

My mum cooks plov, but somehow her version is far removed from the original, I suppose she adapted it for quick cooking after work. 

While I was trying all different versions of plov in Uzbekistan, I really wanted to try and cook one myself. I was extremely lucky  to  cook my first plov and another two Uzbek dishes (hanum and manti)  at a prominent cooking school in Tashkent, called CookBook Workshop. 

Apart from the cooking school, there is also an Italian inspired restaurant inside the CookBook Workshop with a soft pink and blue colour scheme, which would greatly appeal to all of us, who is Instagram conscious. There is also a shaded terrace and a few seating areas inside, which use a different styling theme. Cooking classes take place in a beautifully designed room, full of modern amenities for cooking. 

The school is great for families, as while mum or dad is cooking, the other half can have a coffee or a light meal and children will be busy in a playroom, where childcare is provided.

If kids want a break from playing, there is always a genuine Italian gelato to try. I have been occupied with cooking for several hours and I have not heard any noise from my son, he did not want to leave the playroom, if only for a gelato break.

Last but not least,  at the end of the class, you can eat your creations, so dinner is taken care of as well!

I have been guided in my plov cooking by a fantastic chef Saken, who was all smiles and full of stories about Uzbek cuisine and methods of cooking.  Three hours flew by and I did not even notice how we ended up with so much good food, that my husband Claudio was so desperate to try. 

I have to be honest with you  that my plov did not taste as good as the versions I tried in Samarkand or Bukhara. I told myself that the local chefs had years to perfect their cooking!

I want to share with you a recipe for plov, which is quite easy to recreate at home. The only thing you definitely need is kazan, otherwise the flavour and cooking process can be affected. Kazan is a cast iron cauldron shape dish, used widely in Uzbekistan.

The ingredients that you will need are:

500g beef

500g rice

one ladle of oil, we used olive, but you can use sunflower or any vegetable oil you like

200g  carrots, which you will need to slice in a french fries shape

1-2 onions, chopped 

200g chickpeas, canned

Some raisins and Zira/cumin  

Fry the onion in the oil till it turns golden, add the meat and carrots and fry together for a few minutes. Add some cold water, which should cover the ingredients in kazan by about 3cm, add some chickpeas and wait for the water to boil. Add zira/cumin.

Let everything cook together for about 30-40 minutes , add some raisins and then start increasing the heat.  Add rice and wait for all water gets absorbed by the rice. 

As soon as water got absorbed, switch off the heat and put the lid on your kazan and let the rice cook with the remaining steam.

Serve on a big plate and invite as many friends as you can. 

If you want to try your hand at cooking Uzbek dishes or find out about any other cooking classes that are being organised , feel free to contact CookBook Workshop on their Instagram page @cookbookworkshop. They will be happy to organise  a class which is tailored to your level, or give you a general introduction to Uzbek cuisine. 

I was hosted by CookBook Workshop for a cooking class but all opinions are my own. 

10 Must See Places in Bukhara: Day Tour Itinerary with Global Connect

10 Must See Places in Bukhara: Day Tour Itinerary with Global Connect

Bukhara is full of ancient treasures and one great thing about Old Bukhara is that you can walk to majority of the sites. We again met up with our tour guide Munisa  from Global Connect and started our day tour of Bukhara. I want to […]

How to Beat Tiredness This Winter

How to Beat Tiredness This Winter

Winter is officially here and I am always on the look out how to raise my energy levels during dark mornings and feel less tired in the evenings.  I wanted to share with you a couple of suggestions on how to reduce tiredness and lift […]

What to see in Tashkent in a Day

What to see in Tashkent in a Day

It is likely that you will start your exploration of Uzbekistand from Tashkent, like we did, as majority of international flights come to Tashkent. Some people do not give the city even a day, moving on to more famous cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, but this should not be the case. Tashkent has a lot to offer and this is where you will be able to see the way contemporary Uzbek people live. 

In Tashkent you can see the sights from different eras, whether it is the olden days , Soviet or contemporary Uzbek history.

Unlike smaller European capitals, where it is possible to see some of the sights by walking, this is definitely not in option in Tashkent. Majority of the city is only accessible by car, as sights are wide spread and you will not be able to walk from one to the next.

Also, I am not an expert in Uzbek history, and apart from knowing some facts about Amir Temur, I would have known what I was looking at. My suggestion would be to hire a tour guide, who would be able to take you around the sights and also share the history and realities of everyday life.

Global Connect  offers group or individual tours in Uzbekistan,  and I was very happy when on our first morning in Tashkent, Akmal came and picked us up for a day tour of exploring.

I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky we were with Akmal , he was so full of knowledge and love of history. It is the best thing when your guide’s enthusiasm becomes contagious and you see how eager he is to share all the information he knows not only about his own city, but also about other aspects of Uzbek history. 

We started off at Earthquake Memorial, where Akmal told us a story of the terrible earthquake, which demolished better part of the city and 25,000 people from former Soviet Union came to help and rebuild the city. If you just pass the memorial on your own, you probably would not notice some of the details Akmal pointed out to us.  That is one of the reasons why I love going around new cities with a tour guide,  as you learn a lot of information you might miss on your own. 

Second stop was at Khast Imam Complex, which is considered a religious centre of Tashkent.  We managed to see one of the five oldest Qurans and Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum, where the famous poet was buried.  Akmal also shared with us how he managed to recognise some of the symbols in the old writing style and  correlate it with the old versions of Qurans in the museum complex.  

 

There are plenty of souvenir and craft sellers in the madrasas and Akmal knows majority of them, so it was great to get a little introduction to arts and crafts and also what women wore before Soviets made Uzbekistan one of the USSR republics. 

Here we are pretending to be a traditional couple, where wife would wear the burka. I have tried it on and it was not comfortable or good for your vision, as you were constantly concealed behind the woven screen.

Time was getting closer to lunch and there is no better way to get your introduction to Uzbek cuisine than plov. Plov is a rich dish with rice, meat, carrots, raisins and chickpeas. Each town or a region in Uzbekistan has their own version of plov, and I urge you to try it in every place that you visit  to see the difference. 

Tashkent has a plov attraction in itself – Centre of Plov, where you will see plov being cooked in huge quantities only to dissapear by 2pm in the afternoon. So if you are planning to go, make sure you are there by 1pm latest, otherwise you might risk not having any plov that day! 

Our first plov was delicious and salad with fresh vegetables complimented it well. You will see some tourists here, but it is mostly locals or city visitors, who come here, so definitely put Plov Centre on your itinerary and enjoy this traditional Uzbek dish.

After lunch we looked at  the Independence Monument, which is practically next door to the Plov Centre.  I loved the scenery around it with quick river stream.

Next stop was Chorsu Market and I will write a separate post about this place. It is such a foodie paradise, you definitely have to visit and buy, buy, buy anything you can take with you home. You will not get such quality of dried fruits, nuts or fresh fruit anywhere else in the West. 

The last point on our tour was the central city area with Amir Temur Museum and Amir Temur statue. I think, we were supposed to ride on the metro as well to see how beautiful it is inside, but it was getting late for us, so we did not manage to do it. 

We had a look inside the Amir Timur museum and Akmal told us some more legends mixed with historical facts.

It was time for us to say goodbye, after such a full day sightseeing and getting familiar with Uzbekistan culture and history. I would not hesitate to recommend Global Connect, as we went on 3 tours with them during our time in Uzbekistan and each of the tours was led by a true expert, usually speaking several languages.

Global Connect hosted us for Tashkent City Tour, but all opinions are my own. 

CUVVA:  Insurance the Way It Should Be

CUVVA: Insurance the Way It Should Be

Have you ever gone on holiday and on the way to the airport discovered that actually you forgot to organize your travel insurance? This happened to me once and I learned my lesson the hard way, as I decided not to participate in any activities […]