A taste for adventure... along the Silk Road

| February 12, 2019

Food is hardwired into most cultures along the Silk Road, but Georgians are particularly adept in the art of the feast.

Turkish Delights

Turkey’s culinary range and character is a direct result of its Silk Road heritage, and the countries that share its borders including Iran, Syria and Georgia. You could spend a lifetime exploring Turkish food, from morning menemen (scrambled eggs Turkish-style) to decadent bal kaymak (clotted cream blanketed in honey) and, of course, its legendary kebabs. Turkey is proud of its culinary traditions and has held onto them; one moment you might be in an Ottoman-era bakery, the next, buying lokum (Turkish delight) from a third generation confectioner.

Uzbek food is less well known in the west, but it shares some similarities with Turkish cuisine – also a result of its Silk Road connections. You’ll find plov, similar to pilaf or Indian biryani, a delicious slow-cooked meal-in-one, layering rice, carrots and onions with mutton, lamb or beef. Cooked correctly, plov is beautifully aromatic and melts in the mouth. Legend has it that it first appeared in the region when Alexander the Great ordered his cooks to create an easy but satisfying campaign meal for his soldiers. Uzbeks also bake tremendously good golden discs of non bread, hearty samsa (similar to an Indian samosa, and conveniently portable for Silk Road journeying) while sharing a love of melons, mulberries, grapes, nuts, kebabs and tea with Turks. Then there is manti, or, by another name, raviolli, tortellini or momo – all variations on the same theme: pockets of thin dough stuffed with a tasty filling. Real Silk Road food.

Uzbek plov

Uzbek plov

Some food historians argue that pasta originated in Iran, and it does make a very early appearance in a 10th-century cookery book, whereas others claim that Marco Polo brought noodles to Italy from China. Either way, the Silk Road undoubtedly played a part. Iranians share with the Turks a love of pomegranates, rice dishes (tahdig, the crunchy rice at the bottom of the Persian pan, is sublime) and dried fruit and nuts – handy snacks, ideal for long Silk Road journeys.

Traditional Georgian cuisine

Traditional Georgian cuisine

Food is hardwired into most cultures along the Silk Road, but Georgians are particularly adept in the art of the feast. In the capital, Tbilisi, well-fed locals file in and out of avant garde restaurants with Belle Époque-inspired interiors to dine on tangy sulguni cheese, spicy salsa-like adjika, plates of pickled chillies, trout tartare, bowls of spinach pkhali (a minced vegetable dip), walnut-stuffed aubergine rolls and – the ultimate Georgian comfort food – Adjarian khachapuri, a glistening canoe-shaped bread containing a wobbling, almost-raw egg in the centre.

Adjarian khachapuri

Adjarian khachapuri

Cox & Kings arranges escorted group tours and tailor-made private travel throughout Turkey, Uzbekistan and Georgia. To visit many of the stunning sights described in this article, options include our Classical Turkey group tour, or the Uzbekistan: Heart of Central Asia.

Share: [Sassy_Social_Share]

Comment on this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *