Uzbekistan Foods You Must Try

In Travel Guide, Travel Guide, Travel Tips, Uzbekistan by Giannisa Ovie

When you think of Uzbekistan, you probably imagine those stunning blue-tiled landmarks – Registan Square, the massive Kalyan Minaret in Bukhara, and the ancient vibes of Khiva. But let me spill the beans (or rather, the plov, in this case 😉) – there’s something else in Uzbekistan that’s just as mind-blowing: the food. After travelling through this country for two amazing weeks, I can confidently say my love for Uzbek food is real. Even writing this article makes me drool over the food pictures 🤤  And the best part about Uzbekistan is that, with over 90% of the population being Muslim, halal food is not just accessible; it’s a culinary adventure waiting to be explored!

HTG Tip: If you’re searching for your next travel destination, consider Uzbekistan! Check out our article on the 6 Reasons to Visit Uzbekistan to inspire you to book those flight tickets to this incredible destination! 

Since Uzbekistan was once a vital part of the Silk Road, it shares similarities with dishes from other Silk Road regions across Asia and the Middle East. Dumplings, for example, are called “manti” and look similar to the Korean dumplings that are called “mandu”, while the famous Uzbek Plov shares similarities with Afghan Pilau.

Now, Uzbek food is usually all about meat, but don’t worry, vegetarians – there are vegetarian options for you, too! So, whether you’re a meat eater or a vegetarian, let’s get into Uzbek cuisine along the Silk Road. What are the must-try foods in Uzbekistan, you may ask. You’re in the right place because I’ve listed 11 Uzbekistan foods you must try.

Are you ready to dig in? Bon Appétit, or as they say in Uzbek, “Yoqimli Ishtaha!”

Uzbekistan Foods You Must Try

1. Plov

Without trying plov, your trip to Uzbekistan is incomplete. Plov is widely known as the country’s national dish and is frequently prepared with love during festivities and special events. This one-pot wonder consists of rice, succulent chunks of meat (usually lamb or beef), carrots, onions, garlic, raisins, and a sprinkling of aromatic spices such as cumin and coriander. Everything comes together nicely, resulting in a dish that is as visually gorgeous as it is tasty. It’s the type of food that makes you wonder why you haven’t eaten it your entire life since it’s so good!

Plov is often available at restaurants serving Uzbek cuisine. However, if you want to experience it truly, you should go to a “Plov Centre” in one of the cities you’re visiting. You will undoubtedly be in a plov heaven!

Uzbekistan foods you must try. Plov

Plov, non and achichuk. Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

You can see the staff cook this dish in huge iron cauldrons, or “kazans,” over an open fire, where the magic happens. The result? A plate of warm plov waiting for you on the table, accompanied by Uzbek bread (‘non), an array of side salads, and a cup of tea to complete the feast.

2. Non

In Uzbekistan, bread is quite essential. This precious loaf is more than simply a side dish; it’s a cultural symbol of togetherness and an essential part of every meal. In clay ovens, baked to golden perfection, non combines a hearty crust and a pillowy centre.

People selling handmade non can be seen in every bazaar and on many street corners. They are often shaped like a ring, almost like a giant bagel, but with the centre not quite punched. If you’re wandering through bazaars, you can spot some bread stamps with cool designs – they’re like little art pieces with metal pins in wooden handles.

Uzbekistan foods you must try. Non

Fresh non in Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent. Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

3. Shashlik

Shashlik is the Uzbek take on kebabs. Chunks of marinated meat, often lamb or beef, are skewered and perfectly grilled. The result? Juicy, flavorful chunks of meat with a hint of smokiness.

Uzbekistan foods you must try

Shashlik with Achichuk. Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

All around Uzbekistan, you’ll find loads of shashlik options – chunks of beef, lamb, or chicken, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you might even stumble upon shashlik made with horse meat! Now, for you vegetarian travellers, no worries! You can dig into vegetable shashlik with grilled skewers of potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, or peppers.

4. Somsa

These flaky, triangular pastries are filled with a delectable mixture of minced meat (often beef or lamb), onions, spices blends, and a bit of lamb fat for that extra flavour. They are baked to golden perfection, resulting in irresistible snacks. Expect a delightful crunch as you bite into the crispy layers of pastry, revealing a flavorful meat filling.

Uzbekistan foods you must try. Somsa

Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

You might stumble upon potato, pumpkin, or onion somsa, which makes it suitable for vegetarian travellers to savour the vegetarian version of this pastry.

5. Manti

These pockets of joy are essentially Uzbek dumplings. They are stuffed with ground lamb or beef, onion, and spiced to perfection. The magic happens when they’re steamed, leaving you soft and doughy outside with a burst of juicy goodness from the meaty filling. Manti is served with yoghurt for dipping, which goes together nicely to balance out the richness of the meat.

Uzbekistan foods you must try. Manti

Manti topped with yogurt. Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

You can occasionally encounter manti filled with vegetarian-friendly ingredients such as potatoes or pumpkin. However, if the filling is not indicated on the menu, you can expect it to be filled with meat.

6. Lagman Soup

Let’s talk about Lagman Soup, a bowl of Uzbek comfort food. Uzbek Lagman is a traditional noodle dish that Uzbeks adopted from Uyghur Turks decades ago, which is also a popular dish in Kazakh and Kyrgyz cuisines. This soup combines chewy hand-pulled noodles, tender meat (often lamb or beef), and colourful vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and onions. All of this richness simmers in a fragrant broth seasoned with cumin seed, parsley, and basil.

Uzbekistan foods you must try. Lagman soup

Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

7. Mastava

This is one of my favourite soups that I had in Uzbekistan. Mastava is a thick, hearty soup of rice, beef, potatoes, onion, carrot and sprinkle of cilantro. To level up the flavour, you can also put a dollop of sour cream, making it extra creamy!

This is the food you want to eat when it’s cold outside! ⛄

Uzbekistan foods you must try. Mastava

A bowl of mastava. Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

8. Shivit Oshi

When I first saw Shivit Oshi, I was struck by how beautiful the green colour of this noodle dish was! The green noodles have been infused with dill, making them visually appealing and tasty. They are topped with a meat stew, peppers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and carrots, and served with yoghurt or sour cream on the side.

Uzbekistan foods you must try. Shivit Oshi

Shivit Oshi for lunch in Khiva. Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

Shivit Oshi is Khiva’s exclusive dish. Every restaurant in Khiva’s old city has it on the menu, making it a local treasure. However, you won’t find this dish anywhere else in Uzbekistan. So, make sure to try Shivit Oshi before leaving Khiva!

9. Guzlama

Uzbekistan foods you must try. Guzlama

Guzlama for breakfast. Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

Another popular dumpling in Uzbekistan is guzlama. This fried dumpling originated in Khiva and is typically served as an appetiser. The filling can vary, but chopped beef or lamb, onion, and potatoes are the most typical. I had guzlama for breakfast in Khiva and couldn’t stop eating them because they were so delicious!

10. Achichuk

Uzbekistan foods you must try. Achichuk

Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

Achichuk is a simple tomato and onion salad served with Uzbek cuisines such as plov and shashlik. Because of the amount of vegetables grown in Uzbekistan, fresh salads are always served alongside hot dishes. Achichuk is one of many. Personally, I am not a big fan of tomatoes, but trust me when I say that tomatoes in Uzbekistan are different, in a good way! They have a vibrant colour and are juicy and sweet. I enjoy them with non and even more so with a plate of warm plov. It adds a refreshing twist to the main courses.

11. Dimlama

Uzbekistan foods you must try. Dimlama

Dimlama for dinner. Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

Dimlama is an Uzbek stew made of meat, potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, and cabbage. Meat and vegetables are cut into big pieces, so it’s no surprise they retain their shape even after hours of cooking. The taste is intense, the meat is super tender and you can soak up the stew juice with non. Yumm!

Dimlama is said to be a common harvest meal which is usually served during the fall. So, I was fortunate to be in Uzbekistan in September and was able to sample this incredible dish!

HTG Tip: With Uzbek and Russian being the primary languages spoken, consider using Google Translate to help you order food at restaurants. For more tech-savvy tips, explore our 7 Essential Muslim Travel Apps article to discover other useful apps for your journey as a Muslim traveller 📱

Bonus: Must-Try Drinks in Uzbekistan

1. Tea

In Uzbekistan, tea is more than just a drink – it’s like a warm hug of friendship and hospitality. When you arrive at your guesthouse, you’ll likely be greeted with a cup of tea ☕

Here’s the tea game in Uzbekistan – you’ll get the whole teapot accompanied by several small bowls. Uzbeks don’t do teacups; they sip their tea from bowls. And when your tea arrives, there’s a little ritual that you may want to follow.

First things first, let the tea steep for a bit. Give it a minute to soak up all that flavour goodness. Allow a few minutes for the steeping to complete. Then, get ready for some pouring action. Pour the tea into one of the bowls and then back into the teapot. Repeat this mixing a few times – it’s like the Uzbek way of ensuring the tea’s perfectly blended. Finally, it’s distribution time. You can help pour everyone else’s tea before pouring it into your own bowl.

2. Pomegranate Juice

I’ve mentioned Uzbekistan’s national dish – plov, and now it’s time to reveal their national fruit: the lovely ruby-red pomegranate. This fruit can be found in practically every part of the country. But here’s the twist – in Uzbekistan, they’re not just munching on these red gems but turning them into fresh juice. Imagine the midday sun beating down; this sweet, slightly tart pomegranate juice can be your saviour! 🥤

Hit up the bazaars or stroll past street vendors, and you’ll find people selling this refreshing juice. A cup of fresh pomegranate juice will only cost you around 10,000 Som.

Must-try drinks in Uzbekistan. Pomegranate juice

Fresh pomegranate juice. Photographer: Gia. Halal Travel Guide, All Rights Reserved.

That’s all 11 Uzbekistan foods (and drinks) you must try! I’m sure there are many more dishes I haven’t experienced during my first visit. If I could return to Uzbekistan only for one reason, it would undoubtedly be for the food 😋 Now that you know Uzbekistan is home to wonderful Islamic history, amazing landmarks, and a variety of hearty and delicious cuisines, wouldn’t you want to come to this country? 🤩

Are you ready to visit Uzbekistan?

If you want to immerse yourself in Uzbekistan’s culture, heritage and Islamic history, we’re happy to share that we organise group tours to Uzbekistan. We host multiple departures to Uzbekistan throughout the year. Check out the Halal Travel Guide trip page and find out if a set of dates matches your schedule. ✨

The Author

Giannisa Ovie

Assalamu’alaikum, hi!

I’m Gia, Trip Manager of Halal Travel Guide. I’m an Indonesian living in Jakarta. Besides writing (mostly about travel-related topics), I’m also keen on travelling and cooking. My love language is food, and I’m a cat person. I hope you enjoy this article!

Please find me on Instagram and TikTok! 👋🏼