Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Vegetarian's Food Trail in Uzbekistan - A Carnivore's Paradise

I had a lovely vacation in Uzbekistan last month. I wondered how I would survive for 8 days in a carnivore's paradise. Well, it was not as bad as I had imagined as folks there eat lots of vegetables and fresh fruit, and nuts are found in abundance all year round.

Of course, it was a bit of a problem in restaurants as almost every dish has meat. So the next bet was salads. Mixed veggies with tangy sauces, grilled aubergines, sweet radish and cucumber in yogurt (almost like our raitha) called "turf chakka" were some of the vegetarian options.

The fruits in Uzbekistan are to die for, literally! Juicy, sweet and fleshy. I drooled over juicy watermelon slices. Rich in colour although grown naturally, melons are found in abundance. Story goes that watermelons came to India when Emperor Babur came here with the seeds from the Uzbek region. Another very delicious melon I lived on mostly is the musk melon. Saccharin white slices with firm fruit body - never had melons like this before. And their peaches, big velvety and fleshy ones with a distinct taste that I cannot describe. 

A visit to the market got me loads of nuts. Almonds with shells intact, roasted pista,  hazelnuts and walnuts. Apart from nuts, the dry fruits vendors also stock dried apricots, figs, dates and barfis made of these dry fruit.

Dairy products are in abundance. The Uzbekis make different types of cheeses from camel and horse milk. Horse milk products are a delicacy; however, I could not bring myself to taste them.

An Uzbek staple at all meals is bread which they call 'naan', pronounced as 'non'. Their bread is slightly hard, sour and chewy. I did not relish the breads much but they sure look pretty with a good colouring and some had designs on them too!

The end result of surviving on salads, fruit and nuts is weight loss in  few kilos (yippee!!!). However, I am more than making up for loss of solid food with binging back home.