If you ever find yourself hungry in Tashkent and want a wonderful sit-down dining experience, go to The Caravan. The food is classic Uzbek: Lagman, Norin, Beshbarmak, and Manti, and it is very good. But the dining experience at Caravan goes beyond the food, the restaurant is a work of art, and its beauty enhances the enjoyment of the food. The garden is draped with grape arbors and colorful ikat fabrics as well as beautiful handicrafts.
Traditional Uzbek music plays softly and water gently flows and turns an old-fashioned water wheel. Broad, shallow, threshing baskets adorn the roughly plastered walls, and chili peppers are everywhere to warn off the evil eye. Kitchen utensils of heavy cast iron – pans, spatulas and ladles are also add to the authentic look and feel of the place.
For my main dish, I had the lagman. Simple, I know, but I do love it, and this bowl was by far the best I have ever had. The bowl was filled with different types of noodles, greens, and meat, and was bathed in a light but flavorful broth. Onions, spring onions, and slices of garlic made up the vegetable base, along with red and green bell peppers and bits of tomato. What really made the dish stunning was the broth: a lamb-based broth with distinct tomato overtones. Above that were subtle but definite flavors of star anise and cinnamon, with minced cilantro and dill offering blasts of herbal flavor.
All in all, it was a great meal to begin a wonderful Uzbek adventure!