Plov is a common dish throughout Central Asia. Uzbeks in particular, however, have made it into a uniquely national obsession. This obsession is celebrated in full force at the Central Asian Plov Center in Tashkent.
Typical plov consists of rice, carrots, and meat cooked together, but every corner of Uzbekistan makes its own version and claims to have the best one. Not only is plov an important source of nourishment for the Uzbeks, but it also represents hospitality, community, and identity; it’s not uncommon to see it served at weddings or festivals. At large gatherings, plov chefs, called osphaz, can prepare a giant meal for up to 1,000 people from a single cauldron (kazan).
The menu at the Plov Center is simple; there’s plov, salad, and drinks. Customers get to choose how much rice, how much meat, and whether or not they’d like an egg or kazy (horse sausage, similar to Kazakh shuzhuk). Each batch is cooked in a giant, wood-fired kazan, then scooped onto customers’ plates in the cavernous dining hall.
A few tourists have started to find their way to Plov Center, but it’s still an institution dedicated to a dish that is as Uzbek as it can be.
Know Before You Go
The metro station closest to Central Asian Plov Center is Habib Abdullayev. It is right next to the TV tower that can be used as a landmark to find it. Get there before noon for the best selection.