Legend about the Samarkand flat cake
It is impossible to imagine the daily diet of the Uzbek people without one gastronomic miracle - unique in taste and nutritive qualities and never bored with hot tandoor bread “Issik non”, and in common parlance - flat cake. Everyone who has tried this bread at least once falls in love with it for life. And even tourists leaving Samarkand rush to get to the bazaar and buy the famous Samarkand cake.
But what do we know about this blessed bread, besides the fact that it is surprisingly tasty, and "that there is no such bread anywhere else"? What is its secret?
Unique legend about Samarkand bread
There is a legend of the Samarkand flat cake, telling about how once having tasted a Samarkand cake, the ruler of the Bukhara Khanate wanted him to bake the same cakes. Having recognized the ingredients, the bakers in Bukhara baked flat cakes, but, alas, the taste turned out to be completely different than that of Samarkand. Then the ruler ordered that a baker be brought from Samarkand, who would bake the very flat cakes. The servants found the best baker of cakes in Samarkand, brought him to Bukhara. He baked cakes, but after tasting them, the khan was again upset - that was not the taste. But the ruler at all costs decided to achieve his goal. He ordered a tandoor, in which cakes are baked, and all the ingredients of the recipe from Samarkand. When all this was delivered to Bukhara, the baker again baked cakes, but they still did not have the same taste as the Samarkand ones. Then the ruler became furious. He began to inquire from the Samarkand baker, what is the secret of Samarkand cakes. The baker calmly replied: "Probably the air is not the same as in Samarkand!" The Bukhara khan was ready to order to bring air from Samarkand, but then he became thoughtful, smiled and let go of the baker. Henceforth the khan ordered Samarkand cakes from Samarkand.
What determines the taste of Samarkand flat cakes?
Of course, the taste of cakes depends not so much on air as on water, flour and the furnace in which they are made. A significant role is played by the baker’s ability to accurately follow the traditional recipe, verified over the centuries, thereby conveying its original taste. The Samarkand cake is baked from ordinary dough on a special sourdough, which gives the bread a unique taste. Preparing dough for tortillas correctly is not a simple science and not everyone masters it. Experienced bakers are worth their weight in gold not only in Samarkand, but throughout the world.
How to bake the Samarkand flat cake in the tandoor?
From ancient times, the Samarkand cake was baked in the tandoor. Tandoor is a furnace of a special type of semicircular design with an opening in the wall or in its upper part. The cakes made of dough are glued to the walls of the tandoor and baked in this way until cooked. If the cake in the baking process has come off the wall, it is considered sacred. The temperature inside the tandoor is very high, and the cakes are baked in it in a few minutes. When the flat cakes are ready, the baker takes them out of the tandoor with a special spatula or mittens.
Customs related to the Samarkand bread
For a long time there is a custom according to which, if a person leaves the house, he must bite and eat a piece of Samarkand bread. The flat cake itself should be kept at home until the person returns. When the traveler returns, he must finish it.
In Uzbekistan bread is very revered. Once upon a time there was an old national tradition of carrying a basket with flat cakes on the head. This meant a special respect and reverence for bread.
Even during the marriage ceremony, one does not forget about the Samarkand cake. It is customary for the eastern peoples to carry out the traditional ritual of breaking bread - most often the traditional wedding bread is a flat cake.
Traditionally, flat cakes are not cut with a knife, but broken by hands. Moreover, putting broken pieces of tortillas “face” down is strictly prohibited by table etiquette. This is considered disrespectful attitude to bread.