Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
This week, our first in the challenge, we drew Uzbekistan. I knew very little about this country and was eager to learn more. Uzbekistan is in Central Asia and was part of the former Soviet Union. I did a quick Pinterest search and was immediately enthralled by the gorgeous teal colours and intricately decorated architecture.
After a quick Google search, I learned that the national dish of Uzbekistan is plov, which is a pilaf-like dish. I’d never made anything like this, so I was really excited. We followed this recipe:
The only ingredient I couldn’t buy locally was Barberry, and because the main reason for embarking on this challenge is to try new things, I couldn’t cut these berries from the recipe. I found a bag on Amazon for only $7.99 and had them delivered via Prime in only two days.
The barberry is well-known in Middle Eastern cooking and apparently boasts a lemony flavour. That proved to be so true. Once our plov dish was complete, anyone would have sworn that we juiced a whole lemon in there.
I am also excited to learn about new spices through this challenge. My cooking has always been pretty plain because I don’t have a good knowledge of what spices go good together and what compliments what. This recipe called for cumin, coriander, and black pepper. So rich!
While we cooked, we listened to an Uzbek music playlist on Spotify:
Even though I don’t have a point of comparison, I think we did a good job with this dish. It was really flavourful and the barberries added an amazing taste. I’ll definitely cook with them again. I was also pleased to learn a new method of preparing basmati rice, as I had always boiled it in a pot until it was completely cooked. The method used in this recipe allows for a lot more flavour to be infused in the rice.
While we ate, we watched some Vagabrothers travel videos on YouTube. It was fun to virtually explore the country while we enjoyed their national dish. I think I’ll want to visit Uzbekistan one day. It seems so underrated!
Stay tuned for our next country and let us know if you’ve been to Uzbekistan!