Food For Thought: A Sneak Peek at Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus
Food is more than just daily sustenance for survival: it’s a common denominator that all people share, woven into the social fabric of our everyday lives. Our universal love and need for food, and for the memories, senses, and comforts of home it evokes, are what have allowed so many raw ingredients, spices, and flavors to transcend geographic and cultural borders. Combined, they have transformed the simple act of eating a meal into one of the easiest ways to engage with a new and unfamiliar culture, no matter where we are in the world.
Travel, culture, and food writer Caroline Eden wholeheartedly embraces this in her gorgeous new book, Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus, which celebrates the rich flavors of Central Asia and the Caucasus, particularly the fabled oasis city of Samarkand in modern-day Uzbekistan.
Curious about Central Asian cuisine or want to know more about Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus? Read on to find a recipe straight from the book!
Co-authored with food writer and recipe developer Eleanor Ford, Samarkand seeks to introduce readers to the vivid and surprisingly varied culinary heritage of this important cultural crossroads, centered in one of today’s least known and least visited regions.
Punctuated with Eden’s fascinating travel essays, the book is filled with tantalizing and highly approachable recipes designed for the modern home cook, like Kyrgyz swirled onion flatbread, Turkish beef shashlik kebabs with tahini and pistachio sauce, and of course, the ubiquitous non bread served at nearly every Central Asian meal.
With Caroline as your guide, providing her expert insights and enhancing your understanding of Central Asia’s past and present role in history, you’ll explore the exciting culinary tastes, brilliant bazaars, and ancient architecture of three Silk Road oases – Bukhara, Khiva, and Samarkand – and will celebrate Navruz with the locals as they welcome you into their homes and communities.
- Take part in cooking classes and demonstrations led by local masters, learning how to make traditional bread and Uzbekistan’s signature dish, plov.
- Dine in the homes of Uzbek families, experiencing Central Asian hospitality at its best.
- Enjoy lunch and a demonstration of Uzbek cuisine hosted by famous Tashkent chef Bahriddin Chustiy.
- Wander the streets of ancient Khiva, remarkably preserved within its undulating city walls of plastered mud-brick.
- Experience the timeless character of Bukhara’s ornate madrassahs, billowing turquoise domes and colorful markets in the heart of the Old Town.
- Celebrate Navruz with an evening feast of traditional Central Asian dishes.
- Join with the locals as they take part in a Muchal Tuy or Sallabandon Tuy, traditional Navruz ceremonies unique to Uzbekistan.
- Explore the architectural wonders of legendary Samarkand, admiring majestic Registan Square.
- Engage all your senses at the labyrinthine Urgut Market.
- Cheer on the participants at an exhilarating local buzkashi match, a traditional equestrian game still played much the same way as it was by medieval nomadic tribes on the Central Asian steppes.
As a special gift, all tour participants will receive a copy of Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus so they can continue to relive the spirit of Samarkand at home.
Get a taste for the exotic flavors of the Silk Road by trying out the following recipe from Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus. Then, sign up for the tour.
For more information, contact MIR today at email@example.com or call 1-800-424-7289.
Roasted Peaches with Marzipan and Rose Syrup
(Reprinted with permission from Caroline Eden, Eleanor Ford and Kyle Books.)
Throughout the Caucasus, dried peaches stuffed with a sticky, sweet filling of walnut, almond or pistachio marzipan are a popular street snack. Here fresh peaches get the same treatment before being bathed in rose-scented syrup.
- 3 ripe peaches, halved and stoned
- 40g (1/3 c) sugar
- 3 teaspoons rosewater
- squeeze of lemon
- 50g (1/2 c) ground almonds (almond meal/flour)
- 40g (1/3 c) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons sliced almonds
- Greek yogurt, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Snugly pack the peach halves, cut-side up, into an ovenproof dish.
Dissolve the sugar in 40ml (2 1/2 tablespoons) of water over a medium heat, then add 2 teaspoons of the rosewater. Taste as rose concentrations vary hugely, so you may want to stop there or add a little more to make a subtly perfumed syrup. Sharpen with a squeeze of lemon and pour over the peaches.
Pulse the ground almonds, powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of rosewater in a food processor until the mixture comes together into a paste. Roll into six balls and stuff into each peach half. Scatter over the sliced almonds.
Roast for 30 minutes, or until the peaches are tender and slightly caramelized. If they are browning too fast, cover them with foil partway through cooking. Serve hot or at room temperature with thick Greek yogurt.
Travel to Samarkand with MIR & Caroline Eden
Join Caroline Eden on MIR’s brand new tour of Uzbekistan during the spring festival of Navruz. Backstreets & Bazaars of Uzbekistan is a cultural and culinary caravan celebrating the heritage of the Silk Road, and the only 2017 departure runs from March 18-27, 2017. For more information, contact MIR today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-424-7289.
MIR has 30 years of travel experience in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, plus an affiliate office in Uzbekistan. We have a roster of contacts that can take you to places you didn’t even know you wanted to go. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”
Learn more about other MIR tours that travel to these fabled regions, where you can experience the delicious food and warm hospitality for yourself:
- Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans
- Silk Route Odyssey: Caravan Across Uzbekistan
- Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia
- Central Asian Epic Overland Adventure
- Treasures of the South Caucasus
- A Taste of Georgia: Wine, Cuisine & Culture
You can also book a custom private journey. MIR specializes in personalized, private journeys, and we love to take your ideas and weave them into a trip tailored especially for you. Travel wherever, however and with whomever you like, relying on our expert assistance. Contact us to find out more about our custom and private travel expertise – each trip handcrafted to your interests, dates and pace.
Contact MIR today at email@example.com or 1-800-424-7289.
(Top Photo: Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford’s new book, Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus, pictured with a recipe from the book, Walnut-stuffed Eggplant Rolls. Photo credit: Laura Edwards.)
PUBLISHED: December 7, 2016