Beef plov, a taste of Samarkand

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Caroline Eden at the registan in the ancient city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan. (Photo courtesy of Carol Eden)

Samarkand sits in Uzbekistan along the ancient Silk Road, where travelers and merchants once hawked their wares from China to the Mediterranean Sea. Food and travel writer Caroline Eden uses the Russian nesting dolls matryoshka as a metaphor to describe the Uzbeki cuisine of this region: as soon as you unveil one culinary tradition, another reveals itself. Eden’s new book, which she wrote with Eleanor Ford, is “Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus.”

Plov is a quintessential Uzbeki dish “with as many variants as there are people who cook it.” Most recipes call for layering beef or lamb with vegetables, rice and warm spices. The ingredients are steamed in a lidded kazan and the plov is then served on a large communal platter. Eden says the hearty flavors and the act of sharing the spiced plov can bring people together on the coldest of days.

If you find yourself captivated by the thought of wandering the backstreets and bazaars of Uzbekistan, like we do, join Eden for a food-focused tour in March. For more info, click here.

Beef plov. Photo from “Samarkand” courtesy of Caroline Eden.