Menus and Recipes for a Central Asian Dinner

I have friends coming for dinner this coming Saturday and have decided to cook Central Asian style again. I cooked a Central Asian meal two weeks ago for another group of friends. For both dinners I am duplicating the many meals I had at the homes of the craftsmen on the tour. I've compiled my recipes from our guides as well as cookbooks and recipes I've found on the inernet.

At lunch one day on rthe tour, Nadya, our guide in Ferghana, gave me her recipe for carrot salad which replicated the best carrot  salad I had eaten. I found the recipe for beet salad on the internet. Eugene, our guide in Uzbekistan, had promised to give me the recipe for his favorite Plov or Pilaf as we Americans call it.  (It's a main dish, composed of rice; chicken, beef or lamb; vegetables and herbs, all depending on the area of Uzbekistan in which you are eating.)  We had had a layered one that was quite different from the others d but I didn't get a chance to get the recipe from him before he left our tour nor did I have his e mail. Desperate I contacted the tour group which offered to contact him for me. In response as a connoiseur of good food he sent a compilation of plov recipes along with some recipes for manti (the Uzbekistan version of ravioli, the Chinese version of steamed dumplings, or the Jewish version of kreplach).

In all of the recipes, I never found a recipe for the layered Pilaf that we had. If you know of any, please send them on. In the meantime, I plan to use one of the pilaf recipes Eugene sent.

With these recipes in hand I plotted my menu. Copying the way I had been served in Central Asia, I laid all of the salads out on the table at one time so everyone could help themselves to a little of each.

  • Carrot salad
  • Beet salad
  • Eggplant salad (I did not make this for the second dinner)
  • Shepherd's salad
  • (I decided against serving soup which would have been either  lentil or light beef or chicken with vegetables.)
  • Pumpkin Manti with yoghurt flavored with garlic and quince (I couldn't find any fresh quince but I was able to get a quince jam with onions that I decided to use)
  • Borek (beef or lamb baked inside bread)  I found it in the freezer section of a local mediterranean grocery store and served it at the first dinner. I did not serve it at the second dinner.
  • Lamb Pide (the Turkish form of pizza) I did not serve this at the second dinner
  • Plov (pilaf) I only made this for the second dinner.
  • Baklava (from my local Palestinian restaurant. It is far too labor intensive and time consuming to make)

Obviously I was never going to get all of this cooked so I eliminated the soup at both dinners. I also eliminated the plov on the first dinner and served it instead of the pita and borek at the second dinner later in the month. However, I was able to serve the borek at the first dinner because I found it in the freezer compartment at a local Mediterranean grocery store and could simply defrost it and warm it up. The same was true for the manti. I wound up substituting pumpkin filled pierogi that I found in the local grocery story freezer for the pumpkin manti since they are almost exactly the same thing.

Here are the recipes. I'm afraid some of the recipes do not have specific amounts. Where I can I will provide some idea of what the amount should be.

Nadya's Carrot Salad

  • 1 bunch of carrots.
  • 1/4 onion
  • A dash to taste of Dill, Coriander, Cumin
  • Sunflower oil, about 1 tbsp.
  1. Shred carrots
  2. Shred onion.
  3. Mix all ingredients except the oil together
  4. Saute all of the above in oil.
  5. Toss and serve.

Beet salad (I used some of the basic ingredients that I found in the foodnetwork.com site but eliminated those ingredients that were not in the salads that I ate)

Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 450 degrees

  • 6 beets (I did this the easy way and bought two cans of cooked, sliced beets)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp of minced shallots
  • 1 tbsp honey
  1. Blend vinegar, honey and shallots in shallow bowl.
  2. Gradually whisk in oil.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss beets with dressing to coat.
  5. Place beets on baking sheet and roast till slightly carmelized. Check after 5 minutes.
  6. Cool and serve

You can add crumbled goat cheese if you'd like.

Shepherd's Salad

  • 2 large tomatoes cut in small cubes
  • 1 mild onion cut in small cubes
  • 1 sweet pepper, cored and seeds removed, diced
  • 1 medium size cucumber cut in small cubes
  • a handful of parsley chopped
  1. Mix everything.
  2. Moisten to taste with olive oil and lemon juice. Mix again.

Eggplant Salad

  • 3 medium size eggplants, the stems removed, peeled, and cut in lengthwise quarter strips or 4 small eggplants,stems removed, peeled and cut in half . (The picture in one of the recipe books has the peel on and that's how I remember eating them. For this dinner I followed these directions, but the next time I plan to leave the skin on)
  • 2 medium sie onions diced
  • 2 tomatoes-diced
  • 6 cloves of garlicpeeled and  minced
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • handful of parsley
  • olive oil
  1. Brown onions and garlic cloves in olive oil. Just before they're done add in the tomatoes.
  2. Remove mixture from pan.
  3. Place eggplants side by side in pan.
  4. Spread onion and tomato mixture over.
  5. Sprinkle with sugar and salt to taste
  6. Pour enough water into pan to steam .
  7. Cover and cook on medium heat until eggplants are soft.
  8. Let cool.
  9. Arrange on eggplant on serving plate. Pour sauce over. Decorate with parsley. Serve.

Pumpkin Manti

  1.  I boiled the store bought frozen pumpkin pierogi
  2. I placed Greek yoghurt (Do not use fat free or low fat) that I mixed with garlic powder in a bowl to top the manti
  3. I placed the quince with onion jam in a bowl that could go on top of the sour cream

Minced Meat Pide (Pizza/Pita)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Pide crust (Rather than make the crust, I purchased some nan at the local Mediteranean grocery store, but found that this was too heavy.) Next time, I may try already-made pita or a pre-made pizza crust.)
  2. The meat filling
  • 1/2 lb. Minced lamb
  • small handful parsley chopped
  • 1 medium size onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • A bit of coriander to taste

3. Mix all ingredients for meat filling together

4. Place pastry on baking sheets

4. Spread meat filling down center of pastry

5. Fold edges of pastry inward like a pie crust so filling can't fall out

6. Brush with egg yolk

7. Bake till golden brown.

Plov (pilaf) (From the recipes Eugene sent)

I haven't made this yet. It's on my menu for my October 27 dinner. I'll let you know how it turns out and make whatever changes I discover are needed.

  • 2 lbs. rice (I like Basmatti)
  • 1 lb. lamb or beef cut in small cubes
  • 1 bunch carrots, peeled, diced
  • 3 onions, diced
  • unpeeled garlic cloves (Add to create Sarimsokli Pilaff)
  • (Add pieces of quince if you can get them to create a Behili Palaov)
  • vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • cayenne to taste
  1. Sear onions in oil until reddish brown.
  2. Add lamb  and brown.
  3. Add carrots and cook until golden. Add enough water to steam, along with garlic, spices, salt.
  4. Cook for 20-25 minutes.
  5. (If you are adding quince, now is the time.)
  6. Add rice and enough water to cover rice by 1/2 inch.
  7. Cook until water evaporates
  8. Cover and ccook on low 20-25 minutes.
  9. If you"ve added the garlic, remove it.
  10. Serve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    Carolyn Boiarsky

    " I am an American," but not "Chicago born" like Augie March. Only Chicago aged. I'd like to think that if Henry Louis Gates were to investigate my geneology, he would discover in my past three women who traveled around the globe, chronicling their adventures. Sarah Kemble Knight traveled 112 miles by carriage from Boston to New York in 1704, a journey most women did not embark on alone (and men did so only with some trepidation). In fact, women were only just beginning to exercise their independence in the 1920's when Emily Kimbrough took off with her friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner, to explore Europe. But it is Auntie Mame, transforming herself from a New Yorker to the wife of an Austrian Baron and climbing the Matterhorn, whose mantra I have adopted. "LIFE IS A BANQUET...LIVE!" I began travelling in the 1960's when I traveled around western Europe between graduating from the Univiersity of Pennsylvania and my first job as a statehouse correspondent for UPI (United Press International) in Charleston, West Virginia, which was about as foreign a place as Europe was to someone who grew up in the environs of Philadelphia. Since then, I've also travelled to Kaunas, Lithuania, to teach at Vytautus Magnus University and to Sheffield, England, to present a paper at an engineering conference. I've been to the Alps and seen Auntie Mame's Matterhorn while climbing, by a series of cable cars rather than by foot, toward the peak of Mont Blanc. For the past 10 years my husband and I have been traveling to unique places: a sheep farm during lambing season in England's Lake Country, a hotel on one of the Barromeo Islands in the middle of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, and a cottage in Dun Quin on the Dingle Peninsula which the Irish claim is the last parish before Boston. Between excursions, I'm a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana,. My husband passed away recently and, Auntie Mame-style, I am in the process of transforming myself. Last year I joined a tour to Central Asia. This year I'm going to China to work with the pandas. A new adventure. Another banquet.

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