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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:
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.
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 […]
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 your spirits.
Drink plenty of liquids
I find it difficult to drink just plain water in winter, as it makes me feel cold, but I am very happy to drink tea. Normally, I choose green tea and keep it in the flask next to me, so it stays warm throughout the day. This way, I keep warm and also keep my fluids intake consistent.
Put some music on and have a dance
My kids love listening to music, so when we are all back from school and nursery, I put either kid’s songs or current hit selection and we all have a sing and a dance in the kitchen. Dancing keeps us active and hormones of happiness help to avoid tantrums and meltdowns.
Do not forget the vitamins
I have recently tried Pharmaton Advance, a multivitamin and mineral capsule which helps reduce tiredness and fatigue, and contributes to cognitive function.
It contains Vitamins B2, B3, B6 and B12, which all contribute towards reduction of tiredness, Vitamins B1, B2 and B3, which contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism and Iron and Zinc, which help to maintain normal cognitive function.
I normally take my vitamins with breakfast and I have noticed a big difference especially in the evenings. Usually, by the time I am picking up kids, I am quite tired and running through my routine in a robot style fashion. I have been taking Pharmaton Advance for a week now and I can feel the difference: I am less tired, more focused and enjoying the time in the evening with my kids. My kids are full of energy never mind the season, but us, mums, need a little boost to keep up with their active games and constant running about. Pharmaton Advance is surely helping me to be more active in the evenings and participate in whatever games my kids come up with.
It is available from Boots and is priced at £9.64 for 30 capsules and £23.58 for 100 capsules.
You know that I am food obsessed and always campaign for good quality food. This winter I want to try and introduce more vegetables into my diet, by cooking more varied dishes, rather than just mashed potatoes or vegetable rice. A book filled entirely with veg recipes will keep me occupied on the cold evenings for sure!
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 […]
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Uzbekistan have been named as one of the top 20 regions to visit in 2020 by Lonely Planet. I wanted to visit it for such a long time, and finally stars smiled and we arrived to Tashkent on a sunny October afternoon.
Our flight from London was during the night and we also had an early morning stop over in Moscow, so it was a relief that Mavie Hotel, where we were staying, provided a free transfer from the airport. We were picked up and brought to the hotel to rest a little bit. Once we had tea and dried fruit, which are a taste delight in Uzbekistan, we explored the hotel and its outside space as well.
The hotel is managed by Mavie, a young entrepreneur girl who speaks perfect English and has a very good sense of humour. She will also cook your breakfast in the morning and, let me tell you, it will be delicious. Mavie has travelled extensively herself, so she knows exactly what a tired traveller needs.
The hotel itself is lovely, it has only a few rooms, and each of them is finished to very high specification in modern Uzbek style. While for some people interior decoration might seem a bit over the top, I really enjoyed it, as it shows you the bright nature of the country and its adoration of rich decoration.
The hotel is family friendly: in the evening you can put your kids to bed and stay in the lounge drinking tea and gossiping. You will be able to hear the kids crying if they wake up. Let me assure you this would not be possible in a conventional large hotel.
Breakfast is a beautiful spread of freshly baked bread, fresh vegetables and charcuterie selection, followed by pancakes and tea with dried fruit and nuts. If you have any special dietary requirements, these can be catered for.
The hotel grounds are totally green and will be a delight during summer months. There is an outside seating area and the terrace, but we did not use it, as it was getting chilly in the evening.
The hotel has an indoor pool, but you will need to ask for this to be heated, if you are arriving in winter months. There is also a sauna and a room with a fireplace, where you can relax.
Unless you have to stay in the centre of Tashkent, I recommend Mavie Hotel location. Tashkent is a very big city with huge boulevards and practically non walkable streets due to distances involved, so you will be getting a taxi pretty much anywhere you want to go. Taxis are cheap and reliable, so we did not have any issues getting around and the hotel is located not far from the city centre, maybe 10-15 minutes drive.
I also have to commend the booking process, as Mavie was very responsive and answered all my questions without hesitation. Once we arrived, she was able to advise on places to eat, prices at the food market and was just a genuinely happy lady to chat about everything.
Our stay was hosted by Mavie Hotel, but all opinions are my own.