Food and New York City IV

English-learners, recent New Yorkers write about food in New York. Collection of stories from the De Gustibus column in #TheARNICObserver.

From The ARNIC Observer, Summer 2015

Uzbek Cuisine
By Indira Laktaeva

In Uzbekistan, the country alive with the mysteries of the Silk Road, you can feel the atmosphere of the magical East. Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva are the major cities of this beautiful country rich with nature and kindhearted people.

If you want to visit this enchanted place without leaving NYC, have a meal at 1001 Nights, a restaurant in Brooklyn at 35 Neptune Avenue in Sheepshead Bay. The atmosphere is warm, friendly and modern. You can see art and enjoy decor in full Uzbek style with colorful carpets, chandeliers, curtains, dishes, folk musical instruments and miniatures.

Friendly staff and an interesting menu with traditional national food will greet you. Most famous is Plov (pilaf), prepared with lamb, rice, onions and carrots flavored with garlic and cumin. This dish is traditional in all Uzbek families for every day, as well as for celebrations on different events from birthdays to weddings with sweet raisins added to symbolize the good life.

You can choose and try one of the soups of Uzbek cuisine. They are lagman with homemade noodles, shurpa with vegetables, chuchvara with meat dumplings and mastava with rice. Last time I visited, I ordered shurpa. It was delicious with the tender light taste of a traditional meat soup with fresh vegetables and young lamb. Shurpa boosts your appetite and gives you energy for the entire day. Shurpa is also served with fresh herbs such as cilantro or dill.

We also ordered manti with meat, which are served with sour cream. They are large steamed dumplings that were delicious and melted in the mouth. There are manti with pumpkin if you are a vegan. We also ordered salad with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, olives and onions dressed with oil and black pepper. It was a very good appetizer.

We also had non — specially prepared circle bread. One of the main traditions in Uzbekistan when you have a surprise guest is to honor him at table with hot tea and bread. Non is the main food for a guest and is very nourishing. For drinks at the restaurant, we had black tea with lemon, but stronger libations such as beer and wine, vodka, cognac, and tequila are available. Our total order came to about $20 for a person.

In addition, there are different kinds of shish kebabs: lamb, beef, liver, chicken, salmon and vegetables on skewers. One of the most famous foods is somsa. You have to taste it. It is homemade puffs of baked dough with cubes of lamb. When you have guests in the traditional Uzbek household, and on holidays and for special celebrations, you will serve in a definite order. First, guests are offered tea, non, different kinds of nuts, raisins, seasonal fruits and candies. Next, somsa is offered to guests. After that you may be served shurpa or another soup.

For the next dish, guests might have pilaf with fresh salad or it could be manti. You will never go hungry in the Uzbek home. As an evening guest at 1001 Nights you can enjoy Belly dancing, which is simply amazing, or you can listen not only to eastern but also modern and club music with songs in different languages.

Do your life different, visit this place, meet Uzbek culture, and revel in the traditions of this ancient, warm, friendly and peaceful country.

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