Nowruz: A Spring New Year of Modern National Pride

Nowruz is a spring solstice celebration that marks the beginning of the New Year according to the traditional Persian calendar. It has been a beloved holiday for some 3,000 years, surviving cultural change caused by centuries of tumultuous history. It is now celebrated on the set date of March 21st. The holiday has long been […]

Samsa: A Tasty Pastry of the Silk Road

The samsa (самса) is a meat- or vegetable-filled savory pastry. They are both flaky (слоеная) and crispy (хрустящая). They are enjoyed across the former USSR, where they are most associated with Central Asian cuisine. The samsa originated in the Middle East and spread across the Silk Road (Шелковый путь), reaching Central Asia, India, and Africa. […]

Baursak: The Donut of Hospitality

Throughout much of Central Asia, one type of bread stands out from all the rest – baursak (баурсак). These small pieces of fried dough are known throughout Central Asia among many of the Turkic and Mongolian-speaking peoples there. In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan especially, they are served as everyday fare accompanied by tea and are staple […]

Manti, Pozi, Bauzi: More Than Just Another Dumpling

Manti (манты) are steamed dumplings consisting of ground meat and spices in an unleavened pastry shell. Manti are a popular dish across Central Asia, Pakistan, Northern China, Turkey, and Russia. They are considered native to Central Asia, but are also thought to have descended from a still-older Chinese dish. How Manti Got Their Name (Почему […]

Cheburek: The Half-moon Pastry from Crimea

On streets throughout the post-Soviet space, you can generally find the “чебурек” (cheburek) — a juicy, fried, savory pastry — for sale. This tasty treat likely originated in Turkey or Crimea and its popularity slowly traveled north and eventually spread throughout what is today the former USSR. Why It’s Called “Cheburek” (Почему они носят такое […]

Plov: A Central Asian Rice Staple

Plov (Плов) is a hearty dish made from deep fried meat and vegetables, over which rice is cooked. Plov is considered a national dish in many countries of Central Asia and the Near and Middle East ‒ Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. It is generally popular over most of the area that the Soviet Union […]

Lagman: Central Asian Noodles & Broth

Lagman (лагман) is a dish that is very common in Central Asia, China, and much of Russia. While the basic recipe has perhaps hundreds of local variations, this simple and filling dish always consists of noodles floating in broth or soaked in a savory sauce with vegetables and often features meat, spices, and various savory […]

Chak-chak: A Glorious and Celebratory Fried Honey Cake

Chak-chak (Чак-чак) (chak-chak) is a dessert food made from deep-fried dough drenched in a hot honey syrup and formed into a certain shape, most commonly a mound or pyramid. It is popular all over the former Soviet Union. In Russia, chak-chak is especially associated with the Tatar and Bashkortostan republics, where it is considered a […]

The Talking Uzbek Phrasebook

Below, you will find several useful phrases and words. To the left is the English and to the far right is the Uzbek translation. Uzbek is currently transitioning from the Cyrillic script to Latin. While Cyrillic is common in Uzbekistan, Latin is the official script. In the center of each row is a play button […]

Halva: Ancient and Nutritious

Halva (Халва), the rich, crumbly dessert well-loved across many cultures, is so densely filling it almost manages to feel like a meal – and not an entirely unhealthy one at that. There are more than one hundred types of halva, which is generally ground and sweetened nuts and/or seeds. Its role as a staple dessert extends […]