Uzbek cuisine is impossible to imagine without the wondrous Hot Tandyr (special earthware furnace) Bread, known as ‘issiq non’ in Uzbek or ‘lepyoshka’ in Russian- unique by virtue of its taste and nourishing qualities. Anyone who tries this bread once will never forget its wonderful taste. What is the secret of such delicious bread?
Legend has it that a Bukhara emir (ruler) tasted savory Samarkand bread and ordered that the best baker of this bread be broughtto Bukhara. But lepyoshka baked by the master was not like the kind he had tried in Samarkand. The emir was infuriated and asked the master what caused the unsuccessful result. The baker said: “There is no air of Samarkand here”.
Surely the answer with air was exaggerated, but there is a share of truth in the baker’s words. Besides using special traditional technologies of producing Uzbek lepyoshkas and mastery of bakers, place, climate, water, flour, and other important things play a big role in baking this kind of bread. A baker needs a period of time to adjust to the new place and facilities.
Almost all kinds of lepyoshkas are baked in tandyrs. Baking in such a special earthware furnace is a guarantee of reaching the best result in 4-8 minutes. Lepyoshkas are extracted from tandyrs with a special scoop or a mitten worn on one hand with the help of a skimmer.
The most common kind of the Uzbek bread is ‘obi-non’ which is baked from dough with a specially prepared yeast. Mainly thanks do this yeast, obi-non’s taste is distinguishable from other kinds of lepyoshka. Traditionally, yeast is an esteemed thing for bakers, and is kept in a clean and secluded place. Some exclusive recipes of lyeast are kept in secret by master-bakers and handed down to their apprentices.
After fermentation of the dough, it is divided into small parts and rolled into balls. Then these dough balls are hand formed into the shape of the sun. Before baking them, lepyoshkas are covered with patterns in the middle of them with a special instrument called ‘chekish’, then sprinkled with sesame, or caraway, or poppy seeds.
There is a big variety of Uzbek national breads. Besides the most common obi-non and patir (prepared from fancy pastry with adding sheep-grease), unique kinds of breads are to be found in Uzbekistan, although they are rarely baked. Each province has its own kinds of lepyoshkas that the people take pride in. And all these bakers have their own leaven prepared by their technology. So, each kind of lepyoshka has its own unique taste. Thus, for ‘shirmoy non’ – another kind of lepyoshka – leaven is prepared on pea-anise broth. This bread is considered as a dietary and medicinal kind, and has a sweetish taste and smells of anise.
‘Galaosiyo non’ – the kind of bread baked in the settlement of Gala Osiyo near Samarkand is the most popular in Uzbekistan. It is becoming traditional to buy this kind of bread when you are in or passing through Samarkand. There are more than 15 kinds of galaosiyo non. The recipe of this bread’s leaven is very complex, but this lepyoshka retains its freshness for a long time and does not loose its taste.
There are ‘jizzali non’- with cracklings, ‘katlama’- from flaky pastry, ‘kok patir’ – containing herbaceous extract, and many, many other kinds of lepyoshkas.
From ancient times bread has had a high respect and old people say “bread is the head of everything”.