The art of Uzbek flatbread

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Bukhara nonNon, the round bread of Uzbekistan, is as ubiquitous as the pot of green tea that accompanies every meal of the day. Inspired by a desert sun, it is finished by hand, and sports thick, rounded edges. Considered downright holy to Uzbeks, the flatbread is certainly good to look at—all those whorls and deftly placed punch marks, and that shiny surface with a glaze of milk, water or an egg wash.  The mouth feel is memorable, too—softly chewy around a crunchy midsection.

Non in a baby carriageBesides, who wouldn’t be intrigued by food brought to market in a baby carriage?

Uzbek bread stampsBakers and home cooks wield bread stamps called checkich to turn out the artful loaves and keep the dough from rising in a fiercely hot tandoor. Available at kitchen supply outlets in city markets, a bread stamp makes a great souvenir…

Bread stamps for sale…as enterprising vendors in Khiva have figured out.

Bread vendors at Tashkent's Chorsu BazaarUzbek flatbread comes in just one shape—round—but with as many different decorative touches as there are bakers. Styles range from a simple dip in the middle, to seed-speckled or punched all over.

Flatbread from Samarkand is especially prized, and often requested from travelers returning to Tashkent from that city. Called galaosiye, after the neighborhood near Ulughbek’s observatory where they originated, Samarkand’s high-gluten souvenir can weigh up to two kilos! Roadside vendors everywhere do a brisk business, but for the friendly ladies near the Registan in Samarkand a day’s work can be “weighty” business.

Uzbek bread to shareA point of etiquette: never cut into a round of Uzbek bread with a knife. Instead, do as the locals do, and at the start of the meal, break it into pieces by hand.

Uzbek bakerBakeries abound in every Uzbek neighborhood, and a wander down most any alleyway is sure to yield an unmistakable, universal, bread-in-the-oven aroma. Follow your nose into a bakery, and you may see dough being pulled over a round-bottomed wooden form, before being slapped onto the walls of a tandoor.

Do you fancy having a go at making non for yourself? Try this recipe for Tashkent non, courtesy of the folks at Food52.

 

 

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7 COMMENTS

    • Hello and thanks for your question. Much as I love the bread stamps I brought back from Uzbekistan, I have to say I have never seen one for sale in Europe. So sorry that I am unable to help you source one of these lovely mementos!

    • In Uzbekistan, a round loaf, torn into chunks, is on the table at every meal. It’s a side for cheese and cold cuts for a picnic. It’s omnipresent, goes with literally, everything 🙂

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