Since ancient times for the inhabitants of Uzbekistan bread is sacramental. There is even a legend confirming this faith. It says that every new ruler minted his own coins, but the payment to the local population was not coins, but bread!
Bread for the Uzbeks is very sacred, so there are a lot of rites and beliefs associated with it. Sending a loved one on a long journey, for example, to the army, he must necessarily eat a piece of cake. After this the precious chunk of cake is carefully stored until man’s return. People break the bread in Uzbekistan before the wedding: as the parents of the groom and the bride are agree on the joint future of their children, they must break the bread as a sign of consolidation, because there is nothing more sacred in the East then this wonderful bread! The most serious oaths are given on bread, and breaking such an oath is the worst thing for Uzbek people!
Traditionally, Uzbek flat cakes are not cut with a knife, but broken with hands. Moreover, it is strictly forbidden to place the broken pieces of a flat cake "face" down according to Uzbek table decor: it is considered an irreverent attitude to bread.
And what about the fact that the flat cake in Uzbekistan is practically an independent dish? For a real Asian a hot golden cake with sweet green tea is a breakfast, dessert and any other meal! Uzbek bread can be eaten with sweet melon and grapes (an unusually tasty combination), at every day dinner and at a festive dinner party.
Avicenna wrote about Samarkand tandir cakes: "Anyone who in the morning eats obi-non with raisins, dried pears or peanuts, will be fed the whole day."
Uzbek bread is called non or flat cake. It is baked in a tandir (tandoor) - a special clay oven, in which it turns out ruddy and crispy.
Types of Uzbek flat bread
There are two types of Uzbek flat cakes - usual (obi-non) and festive (patir). There are a lot of types of flat cakes. Puffed and flacky, in appearance and taste, they vary in regions - Samarkand, Bukhara breads and others. At the same time, each region of Uzbekistan can boast of its own special bread, manufactured only here. Each region uses a different brewing for bread. The cooking technology is original and bread baked in different regions of Uzbekistan is different in appearance and taste.
The history of Samarkand bread
The most famous Uzbek flat cake, is rightly considered to be Samarkand one. It is called “gala-osiegi-non”. The masters - bakers from the village of Gala - Osie, which is near Samarkand, became famous for the manufacture of this flat cake. Till now there are more than 15 ways to prepare a starter for it, based on fermented cream or whey, with the addition of finely chopped onion and sesame oil. But, even knowing the exact formula, no one, anywhere and never managed to replicate its unique taste. Perhaps the masters are hiding something, and perhaps the legend is true. It reads: "In ancient times, having once visited Samarkand and tasted local flat cakes, the Emir of Bukhara wanted to have such cakes at his dastarkhan every day. He ordered to bring the best Samarkand bread baker to the blessed Bukhara. The master arrived to Samarkand with flour, tandyr and the best recipe for a flat cake. He made the cake, but the Emir did not like it. The master thought for a while and sent for Samarkand water. Again he baked a cake, and again the Emir did not like it. He was enraged and ordered the master to be executed. At the last moment before execution, the ruler again asked what the master hid. "There is no air here like in Samarkand" - the master replied. Such an answer amused the Emir. The master was spared and released to his homeland. "
Samarkand bread is really special. It differs in its sizes, design, pomp and weight, and the correct Samarkand flat cake is suitable for food for 3 years. Even completely dried it can be properly sprinkled with water, heated in tandir (oven, microwave oven) and eaten. There are types of flat cakes that decorate homes like souvenirs. But for their acquisition, as a minimum, you should make a trip to Uzbekistan and visit ancient Samarkand.
Cakes, cooked according to different recipes, are called differently. Especially popular is a bread with meat, with roastings, onions and even pumpkin. Bread from cornmeal with pumpkin is characterized by high nutritional properties.
One more type of Uzbek flat cakes is a patir. The dough for this bread is kneaded on milk with yeast, on melted fat or butter. Then the dough is divided into small parts, rolled several times. After the formation of a round cake, it is baked in the hot tandoor.
Another type of a cake is shirmoy-non. To do this, soaked beforehand and crushed peas brew infusion of anise and knead the dough. After that, the flat cake is also baked in the tandir. Kashgar patir, which is baked from dough with onions, and is smeared with cream on top, is also famous.
But all these cakes are cooked in tandoor. The word "tandoor" has the same roots in many languages: Sanskrit, Persian, Turkish, Azerbaijani. Tandirs were used in the Akkadian culture, before Mesopotamia and the Iranian plateau were inhabited by Semitic tribes. In India and Iran, meat with spices is prepared in ovens resembling tandirs. Although it is also possible to cook shashlik in the Uzbek tandir, its main purpose is baking cakes.
Flat cakes are sacred for the Uzbeks. Their round shape symbolizes the sun. Patterns from holes and lines are put on cakes. Uzbek bread is also a plate for pilaf, meat and other fatty dishes. The traditions of cooking obi-non have about 5,000 years. Today, adherents of Uzbek cuisine can cook obi-non in a horizontal tandir.
The profession of Uzbek bread baker
To cook traditional Uzbek obi-non, coal and firewood are placed in a tandir and it is heated for several hours. The walls of the tandir are sprinkled with salt water so that the ready-made cakes are easily separated, and bread dough is put on them. Hot walls are abundantly sprinkled with water to make the dough cooked for a couple. Uzbek tandir flat cakes have specific aroma and taste due to the fact that they are prepared very quickly at high humidity and temperatures of 400-480 degrees.
In the Uzbek bread bakery, as a rule, only men work. It's very interesting to watch the process. In order the work was fast, and there was no fuss in a close room, work in a bakery is conveyor. One rolls balls of dough, the second forms cakes from them and makes patterned punctures, and the other deftly throws cakes into the oven (tandir). The baker, like to the tiger’s mouth, dives into the hot muzzle of the furnace, clings a cake to the wall of the tandir and emerges for the next one.
It is not so easy to work with a tandir, and there are secrets. An experienced baker always knows when the tandir is ready for baking. In those days, the craft of a bread baker was considered the most honorable. Bakers passed their secrets from generation to generation, taught children the art from their childhood.
Uzbek bread is the national bread of the indigenous people of Uzbekistan, the divine taste of which will never get bored. Lush golden flat cakes, only taken out of the tandir are well eaten hot, without waiting until they cool down!