The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Uzbek Food
Uzbek cuisine is a unique mix of Turkic, Persian, and Russian culinary traditions. The five countries with the most similar food to Uzbekistan were all once part of the Soviet Union. In addition, four of the five countries are predominantly Muslim. In addition, these countries all have relatively dry climates and are landlocked, although some border the Caspian Sea.
- Tajikistan is on the western border of Uzbekistan. Both of their cuisines feature staple dishes like plov, shashlik, and manti. Soups, such as shurbo, are also popular in both cuisines, although Tajikistan’s version often incorporates more vegetables. Carrots and tomatoes are the two most commonly consumed vegetables in these countries.
- Kyrgyzstan is also on the western border of Uzbekistan. Kyrgyz cuisine showcases a strong resemblance to Uzbek cuisine, particularly in their love for hearty and meat-centric dishes. Kyrgyzstan’s beshbarmak, a dish of boiled meat (usually lamb or beef) served over pasta or dough, shares similarities with Uzbek cuisine’s shurpa.
- Azerbaijan is yet another predominately Turkic country on this list. Kebabs (grilled meats) and dolma (stuffed vegetables) are commonly eaten in both nations. In addition, these countries often serve hot and fresh flatbread with their meals. However, Azerbaijani cuisine stands out with its lavish use of herbs and spices, such as saffron and sumac.
- Turkmenistan is located just to the south of Uzbekistan. Turkmen cuisine shares certain elements with Uzbek cuisine while retaining its own distinct character. Similar to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan’s cuisine relies on staples like plov, manti, and shashlik. However, Turkmen cuisine features more prominently cooked vegetables like pumpkin and eggplant.
- Armenia is the only predominantly Christian country on the list. However, it also has many culinary connections to Uzbekistan. Both cuisines feature grilled meats and an assortment of flatbreads. Both countries commonly eat grilled meat skewers. Bread plays a vital role in both cuisines, with Armenian lavash and Uzbek non being staples.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Uzbek Food
The countries with the least similar food to Uzbekistan are in tropical regions, so their climates are much hotter and wetter. They are also more densely forested. These factors make the crops typically grown in these countries far different from the Central Asian region. Their diets rely far less on the consumption of wheat, meat, and potatoes.
- Democratic Republic of Congo is a former Belgian colony located in the middle of Africa. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country. The most commonly eaten meat in Congo is freshwater fish, whereas beef and eggs are more popular proteins in Uzbekistan. Furthermore, their diet has relatively little meat in it.
- Liberia is another African nation on this list. The country has a reliance on rice, cassava, and plantains for a large portion of its diet. Furthermore, seafood is a larger part of Liberia’s diet than Uzbekistan’s, since many of the country’s residents live near the coast.
- Cambodia, like Uzbekistan, is located in Asia. However, its cuisine is far different from Uzbekistan’s. The Cambodian diet is heavily based in rice and cassava, while relatively little wheat and potatoes are consumed there. Another difference is that freshwater fish are more commonly eaten in Cambodia.
- Laos, like Cambodia, is another predominantly Buddhist country in Southeast Asia. Although it is landlocked like Uzbekistan, their cuisines have little in common. Dishes like laap, a minced meat salad, and tam mak hoong, a spicy green papaya salad, showcase the vibrant and distinct flavors of Lao cuisine.
- Micronesia is an archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so its geography is far different than doubly-landlocked Uzbekistan. As a result, the country’s diet generally consists of a lot of seafood, tropical fruits, and coconuts. Traditional dishes often involve grilling or steaming fish, taro, breadfruit, or yams, unlike in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Beef, Egg
Fruit: Grape, Apple
Vegetable: Carrot, Tomato
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.