Non, 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.
Besides, who wouldn’t be intrigued by food brought to market in a baby carriage?
Bakers 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…
…as enterprising vendors in Khiva have figured out.
Uzbek 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.
A 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.
Bakeries 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.