Extreme weather threatens Uzbekistan’s biggest traditional dish
Sweet yellow carrots grown by Uzbek farmers are a key ingredient in Uzbekistan’s national pilaf dish.
But this year, extreme weather conditions have devastated this year’s harvest.
According to the “plov index”, in the first nine months of this year, the price of plov in Tashkent – the capital of the country – increased by almost 30%, due to the constant rise in prices of the meat and an explosion in carrot prices.
What is plov?
Plov is a key dish in Uzbek cuisine. Although served throughout Central Asia, the dish is central to the eating habits of the 35 million inhabitants of this Central Asian country.
Basically, you are served rice with onions and carrots, as well as lamb or beef, cooked slowly in layers.
In Tashkent, it is not difficult to see where the demand for these carrots is. Restaurants with plov-heavy menus are scattered throughout the city, of which the region is one of many that claim to make the best version of the dish.
Plov is served at weddings where the ingredients are cooked in massive cast iron pots. The most skilled plov chefs, known as oshpaz, can serve the plov for up to 1000 people at a time.
Why has the price of plov increased?
This year, an extraordinary drought devastated farmers in Uzbekistan, tripling the price of carrots, pushing up the price of plov.
Uzbek farmer, Mukhtor Gazatov, who claims to have lost a third of his annual income due to the drought.
“This year, the climate was very hot for the carrots, so the harvest was poor. As a result, the price of carrots has increased, ”he explains.
The city’s temperatures topped 40C in early June, a month when readings are typically in the mid-1930s or lower.
The unusually cold weather in early spring had already delayed the harvest and compromised its quality, causing the carrots to crack.
Scientists associate these climate changes and extreme temperatures with the effects of climate change.
Abdurahim Mirzayev, a 59-year-old career chef, said he chose to sacrifice profits this year to make sure his rude restaurant on the outskirts of Tashkent was full every lunchtime.
“You have to plov with love and with a pure heart,” Mirzayev said, his hands moving quickly through the pockets of steam from the meat and vegetables sizzling in the pot.
Javokhir Djamoliddinov, deputy director of the National Statistics Committee, said he believes Uzbekistan will always find a way to serve their favorite food.
He hopefully pointed to a recent drop in carrot prices and government action to control food prices in general.
Watch the video above to feast your eyes on the glorious Uzbek dish.