Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Samarkand: Recipes and Stories from Central Asia and The Caucasus

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Cover of this ravishing new recipe and travel book
Uzbek Journeys clients, and readers who are dreaming about visiting the Silk Road, will relish this new publication Samarkand: Recipes and Stories from Central Asia and The Caucasus.

Caroline Eden, a regular contributor to the food and travel pages of London's Financial Times, The Guardian and Independent newspapers, teamed up with Eleanor Ford, a recipe developer and editor for the Good Food Channel and BBC Good Food, to produce this lavish book.

For many centuries various ethnic groups passed through the fabled city of Samarkand, sharing and influencing each other's cuisine and leaving their culinary stamp.

Over 100 recipes, adapted for the home cook, are showcased, interspersed with personal travel essays introducing the region and its ethnic groups: Uzbek, Tajik, Russian, Korean, Turkish, Caucasian and Jewish.

Of course Uzbek plov is featured and as Eleanor Ford said in an interview with the Evening Standard: "This is absolutely the defining dish of the region, and it is such an exciting experience going at lunchtime to one of the plov kitchens - bustling canteens where hundreds of people are served from this one vast kazan pan.

One chef would be doing it, layering up meat and rice and vegetables with just a little bit of spice. That way everything is scented by the slow cooking meat which is at the bottom of the pan. Officially this is a lunchtime dish, or a dish served at weddings or celebrations".

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Cucumber and rose soup
Gloriously photographed, the book displays the vibrancy and culinary originality of this remarkable region.

It is divided into these sections:
  • Shared table
  • Soups
  • Roast meats and kebabs
  • Warming dishes
  • Plovs and pilavs
  • Accompaniments
  • Breads and doughs
  • Drinks and deserts

Definitely a treat for yourself or on the Christmas list for a friend.

Related posts:
The Glory of Uzbek Bread
Chekichs: Uzbek Bread Stamps
Samarkand Restaurants and Caf├ęs: An Insider's View
Nowruz Spring Festival 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Kyrgyzstan: World Nomad Games are Underway

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Mounted archery competition
The Second World Nomad Games opened on the shores of Issyk Kul lake on Saturday 3 September in spectacular fashion.

In an era of globalisation, the Games are an initiative of Kyrgyz President, Almazbek Atambaev, that aim to:
  • show the world the greatness of nomadic civilization
  • show the world the values of peace and culture and the life of each ethnic nomadic group
  • provide the opportunity to see nomadic sports in their original form
  • provide the opportunity to see the richness of the world's nomadic people.
 "The purpose of the organization of the Games is to give a second breath to sports which are little known to the rest of the world, but are very popular in countries where modern nomads live, or have lived," said Nurdin Sultanbaev, Head of the Secretariat of the Second World Nomad Games 2016.

Forty countries  are participating this year, double the number from the inaugural games in 2014. As well as other Central Asian countries, participants come from Argentina, Australia, America, the Middle East and Africa.

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Er enish - wrestling on horseback
Over twenty games will be in competition including wrestling, archery, (mounted and stationery) falconry, hunting with taigans, board games and shagai - similar to knuckle bones, though ankle bones are used.

Unsurprisingly, in Kyrgyzstan where there are more horses than cars, horse games figure prominently in the program: buzkashi, wrestling on horseback, javelin throwing on horseback and horse races. A new racetrack has been built at Cholpon Ata specifically for the Games.

A small town has been built high in the mountains, in Kyrchyn Gorge, which recreates nomads’ yurts with traditional interiors and craftsmen’s workshops with handicrafts. A Folk Festival featuring traditional music and costumes is also part of the festival.

You can view the opening cermony and follow the World Nomad Games online.

Related posts:
Kyrgyz-style Polo: Ulak Tartysh or Buzkashi 
Manaschi - Bards of Kyrgyzstan
Elechek - Kyrgyz Traditional Headdress
Yurts of Central Asia 
5 Reasons to Visit Kyrgyzstan

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Opening ceremony at the 2016 World Nomad Games, Kyrgyzstan