Tag Archives: Soup

Mastava – Uzbek soup

Mastava - Uzbek Soup

Mastava - Uzbek Soup

After our last visit to Chaihana, I’ve been wanting to make this recipe and I was lucky enough to have a recipe handy.  As a matter of fact, I actually have two.  One is from Lynn Visson’s book and one is from a Russian-published book.  This attempt is from the Russian-published version and I don’t know how authentic it is.  Anyone with such knowledge, please let me know if this is even remotely authentic.

Russian Recipe Book

Best Recipes of the Uzbek Kitchen

Russian Mastava Recipe

Russian Mastava Recipe

That’s the book and the page with the recipe. If you can read Russian, please take a close look at it. For those who don’t read Russian, here’s the rundown of issues with this recipe:
1. It’s not clear enough in directions; it refers to “spices” but doesn’t define what it means. Is it like mirepoix, is it something else? I interpreted that as “use whatever you want” and I used freshly ground back pepper and cumin.
2. It doesn’t specify all the quantities (how much water do I need?)
3. It doesn’t specify how long to cook it for, it just says “until done”. Is that 5 minutes or 50? How do I know? I’ve never made this before.

But I just happened to have two carrots and 3 potatoes, the exact quantities the recipe is calling for. I love it when a plan comes together.
And since you already know I’m not good with directions, you should also know I’m really not good with metric values. I know, I could look it up. But I was lazy and didn’t. So here’s what I used.

mastava-ingredients

Mastava ingredients

Ingredients:
1 lb of lamb diced in bite-sized pieces (had it in the freezer since last summer, figured I should use it)
2 medium-large carrots, cut up in bite-sized quarter-moons (the recipe says to cube it, but I’m just not into all that chopping at 8PM)
3 small-medium potatoes (cut the same size as the carrots)
1 large onion, diced
1.5 cups of washed rice (the recipe calls for 300 grams and I don’t have a scale; but 1.5 cups was waaay too much, made it more like a stew; I think 3/4 cups would be better)
6-9 cups of water (I lost track after 6, but I think I used close to 8 or so; the recipe has no quantity specified for water)
1 can of tomatoes (the recipe actually calls for 3 tomatoes, but I didn’t have any and improvised; this gave the soup a much darker and redder look than is typical, I think)
olive oil (the recipe calls for fat, but I assume it’s calling for lamb fat and I didn’t have any, so olive oil it is)
spices: salt, black pepper, coriander, cumin (to taste)
cilantro and scallions (to garnish, optional)

* A note about washing/rinsing rice. I don’t know for sure, but I think it removes some of the starch and quickens cooking time. It somehow makes a difference.

Steps:
Season throughout the cooking process
1. Brown the meat.
2. Add onions and let cook with the meat for a few minutes.
3. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.
4. Add carrots and potatoes and cook for a few minutes (5-10 minutes)
5. Add water (depending on how much you use, but start with 5 cups) and let boil for about 20 minutes.
6. Add rice and cook “until done”; if you rinse the rice, it’s about 10-13 minutes (probably less if you use less rice)

Mastava lamb

Brown lamb

Added tomatoes

Added tomatoes

Added carrots and potatoes mastava

Added carrots and potatoes

Added rice to mastava

Added rice

finished mastava

Enjoy!

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Chaihana Continued…

Ok, as promised, now to the food….

Lagman

Lagman

My dad ordered Lagman. I love lagman (pronounced: lah-g-mahn, with emphasis on the last syllable). I subconsciously tried making it when I was adding my own twist on a chili recipe I read on the back of a can of beans. And I’ve made it myself quite a few times and you can check out my version. It has carrots and celery (though I don’t know how authentic the celery is and I never use it) and noodles and red bell peppers and lamb. Dad liked it.  And it had scallions as a garnish.

Mastava - Uzbek soup

Mastava

This time around, I ordered Mastava (I think that’s how that soup is called and spelled and if I’m wrong, please let me know). It was delicious. The lamb was very well prepared, so tender it melted in your mouth as you ate it. No need to chew, really. Just inhale…. It had rice, lamb, carrots and other stuff I forgot about. And specks of emerald cilantro garnished the soup. Really good. Authentic. Notice how my sentences tend to shrink when the food is really fabulous. Probably because that’s all my mind is capable of at that moment and all the other mental powers are reserved to fully experiencing the decadence of the food. Love the flecks of cilantro garnishing most dishes. Just try it…Very yummy. I might have to try to make this at home one of these days. I wonder if I have a recipe somewhere… Hmmm. Oh, and this is a half-portion. Notice the difference between the full portion of Lagman and the half portion here. Not a whole lot of difference.

Manti - Uzbek food

Manti

Then we ordered manti. I’ve been wanting to try them here and so we did. There are several kinds on the menu, but we got the ones with lamb. Notice how huge these are; they were about the size of my fist, not like the ones we typically make. Also, notice that they’re served with sour cream and vinegar (the bottle behind the dish). You typically don’t mix the vinegar and sour cream, it’s either or. These were so right. I can’t say that about many places, but not many places claim to have Uzbek food. But these were sooooo good! And huge… The dough was a tad thick, but barely noticeable, and the meat was all good. The spices, meat to fat ratio, and all other aspects of manti were nearly perfect. I’d definitely recommend that dish to anyone.

Liver Shashlik - shish-kebab

Liver Shashlik - shish-kebab

We also ordered liver shashlik (shish-kebab). I think this specific type is called “djigar”, but I could be wrong. Someone correct me on this please. I don’t understand why it was served with the veggies. But ok. The onion is the authentic part of how it’s typically served. None of us liked this dish. It was too dry.

Liver Shashlik - shish-kebab

Liver Shashlik - shish-kebab

See in the picture how dry it was? It should be a lot more pink in the middle. It was like rubber; a workout for our knives and teeth. I hope they improve this. When it’s right, it melts in your mouth and has a very nice mouth feel, like pate. When it’s right even a baby/toddler could eat it.

Shashlik - shish-kebab

Shashlik - shish-kebab

Next, we tried “regular” shashlik. I must say that this is made from beef and not lamb, that’s why it’s in quotes. It’s as “regular” as you can have there. This is a hit or miss dish. The first time I had it I didn’t like because it had some weird spices. The server must have heard me describe that and had the kitchen leave it off this time so it was actually pretty good this time. It was seasoned and marinated properly and was very soft. Each skewer had plenty of meat and a serving is more than plenty.

Samsa - Uzbek dish

Samsa - Uzbek dish

The first time I was at this restaurant I also tried samsa. It was pretty good, but not how I remember, but then again, it’s been more than 20 years since I’ve had an authentic samsa. And this one was also very huge. These portions are very filling.
So let’s start at the beginning.

Samsa - inside view

Samsa - inside view

A samsa is a minced meat, fat, spices, and onion mixture that’s wrapped in dough and baked in a tandoori oven (tandyr). There are several kinds: rounds ones made from regular dough and triangular ones made of layered dough and not quite as tall as this one though they do puff up. This sucker was the size of my head! Not quite, but nearly. It also had more than onions for veggies but I couldn’t discern what all comprised the mixture. Still, it was very good. When made in a tandyr, the crust that forms on the bottom is very crunchy and the top is soft and when you bite into it, the juices run down your chin and the steam that escapes is like a sigh of contentment. I actually have a recipe that I’ve been thinking of trying for this.

Plov - Uzbek dish

Plov

And finally, what I always crave. Plov! This is definitely not for the weight-watching crowd. This thing is packed with most delicious calories. You got beef, fat, oil, rice, carrots, and other yummies. Don’t get me wrong, plov is worth it! This is my “holy grail”, something I really want to learn to make; I don’t have the correct pot for this (it’s cooked in a “kazan“, a cast-iron pot much like a dutch oven that’s not enameled). So if you know where I can get my hands on a kazan, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!
This dish alone is worth the trip (because I can’t make it home at the moment, not because it’s legendarily good). It’s the only consistently good dish I’ve had here (but I’ve only been here twice…) and I would go there just for it again, even if the meat was just a tad dry.  That they use beef instead of lamb is not authentic but that substitution is made often enough. It’s good, but don’t get me wrong, any competent home cook can make something far better. My grandma’s plov is hands-down a thousand times better; it’s legendarily good.  And I can’t even learn it (no kazan)!  Grrrr!  I tried a few times in an enameled cast iron pot, but everything sticks, so there’s burned rice on the bottom affecting the taste of everything else. But it was still edible.

Note: if you’re familiar with Indian cuisine, some things might look/taste familiar (like the use of lamb, rice, and spices).  Uzbek food is delicately spiced, but not spicy-hot; it’s heavy on the meat and very filling. (With all that we ordered, we had a lot of leftovers.)

Bring an empty stomach and an open mind if you’ve never tried these dishes before.

Tomato and Spinach Soup

Tomato-Spinach Soup

Tomato-Spinach Soup

This was a completely unexpected and impromptu soup. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m not much into soup since I have so few soup recipes. But this just came together suddenly, since I didn’t even get into to the kitchen until about 8 in the evening. What can I say, I was bored so I started cooking. 😉 I had some things I wanted to use up before they go bad and wanted something easy, light, healthy, and packed with nutrients. And since I’m fond of throwing a bunch of stuff in one pot and seeing what develops, I got a really yummy soup that is perfect for this cold and rainy weather. I hope, one of these days we’ll have spring.

Ingredients:
1 (1lb) jar of tomato sauce
2 bell peppers (red and yellow, or whatever you want)
1 large onion
1/2 lb carrots
1/2 cup of brown rice (optional)
1 lb spinach
Water (at least as much as the tomato sauce; I used two times the tomato sauce)
basil
bay leaves (optional; I used a few small ones)
Spices (salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, corriander, paprika, Pensey’s Chile Con Carne, Pensey’s Sweet Curry)

Steps:
1. Saute the onion and bell peppers. Season a little bit.
2. Heat the tomato sauce in a pan (I used a 3.5 QT pan). Add water (as much as you used for the tomato sauce. I just used the empty jar of sauce).
3. Add the sauted vegetables and cook a few minutes.
4. Add brown rice, if using and carrots.
5. Add spinach.
6. Add the rest of the water and bay leaves.
7. Add the spices, whichever you are using, and basil.

Tomato Soup ingredients

Tomato Soup ingredients

Tomato soup and veggies

Tomato soup and veggies

Tomato soup and spinach

Tomato soup and spinach

Shurpa

Shurpa

Shurpa

When I say we cooked yesterday, I mean we really cooked. In addition to Nora’s Salad and Damlyama, we also made Shurpa. Shurpa is a rich and brothy lamb soup that warms your soul. There are many variations, mainly having to do with vegetables and garbanzo beans. My dad likes garbanzo beans in shurpa and that’s how we made it back home, so that’s how we made it here too, though many people leave out the garbanzo beans. The main thing to keep in mind is that you want the broth to be clear and free of color. Take a look at the picture at the bottom of this post. That is why the vegetables are generally whole or halved. But here is our version. Nora, please correct me where/if I missed anything.

Veggies in Shurpa

Veggies in Shurpa. See the carrots, onion, greens, and pepper chunks? See the floating tomato half?

Ingredients:
2 whole carrots
1 small onion whole
1 tomato (we used Roma) cut in half
1/2 red pepper (cut 2 sides off)
2 lbs of garbanzo beans (we used 2 1-lb cans drained)
1/2 large onion cut into half moons
2 lbs of lamb (get soup bones, not just the fleshy bits)
1.5 – 2 LB of potatoes
Salt, black pepper (whole, not ground!), cumin (all to taste)
parsley and dill (about 10 stems or so whole, if they’re kinda full)
parsley and dill for garnish (put into each plate, about a teaspoon each plate)
Water

Steps:
1. Salt the meat and put into a large pot (a stock pot would work). Cover with water and let come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat but keep it at a low boil. When the meat is cooking, you will see a grayish film bubble up (I’m sure there is a name for it, I just don’t know what it is in English), but be sure to skim it off; nobody wants to eat that.
2. Add the carrots, small whole onion, 2 halves of the tomato, pepper pieces, and parsley.
3. Cook for about a half hour and then add the garbanzo beans. Season.
4. About a half hour before the soup is done, add the potatoes which have been cut into bite size pieces.
5. Cook for about 4 hours total, on a low boil.

Potatoes in Shurpa

Potatoes in Shurpa

Brothy Shurpa

Brothy Shurpa

Lagman (Uzbek soup/sauce)

This recipe turned out very close to how I remember my grandmother’s Lagman.  Having grown up in Uzbekistan (Tashkent), we ate this somewhat often.  I love the food of the region and I try to reproduce some of it now.  There are many variation on Lagman, some have it really “dry” and more like a sauce, some have it more “wet”, like a soup.  Our version is the more like soup one.

All the chopping and slicing is very much worth the effort.

Ingredients:
1lb lamb (cut into small pieces, about 1-inch cubes)
3 TBLSP of extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
2 medium onions (diced)
4 medium-large carrots (diced)
2-4 bell peppers (diced) [I used 2 really large red ones]
3-4 tomatoes (diced) [I used 1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes]
4 medium potatoes (diced)
8 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
4-5 cups of stock [I used chicken stock but beef stock works absolutely great]
3 medium bay leaves
salt, pepper, coriander, and cumin to taste

Steps:
1. Saute the diced onion, carrots, and bell peppers.

Diced onion, carrots, and lamb

Diced onion, carrots, and bell peppers

2. Add the lamb, tomatoes, and garlic. Let this mixture cook until the meat gets browned.
3. Add the stock and bring to a boil.
4. Add the diced potatoes and the bay leaves and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Lamb, tomatoes, garlic, and bay leaves

Lamb, tomatoes, garlic, potatoes, and bay leaves

I add the salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, and corriander between each step. This way, the flavors can develop gradually and I can adjust as I go along. Also, you know your stove better than anyone, so adjust the cooking time to meet your stove’s capacity.

This must be serverd over noodles. I used spaghetti, but angel hair pasta works really well here too.

Lagman with Spaghetti

Lagman with Spaghetti

Lagman

Lagman in kasa 'касушка'