One hot July in 2015, on the way from Andijan to Tashkent, I came across a roadside bread stand.
What a wealth of smell, shape, taste…
Samarkand non or “Samarkand bread” is a traditional bread from Uzbekistan. It is a very popular bread that accompanies the numerous dishes of the traditional Uzbek cuisine.
It differs in its sizes, design, pomp and weight, and the correct Samarkand flat cake is suitable for food for 3 years. Even completely dried it can be properly sprinkled with water, heated in a tandir (oven, microwave oven) and eaten. There are types of flat cakes that decorate homes like souvenirs.
It originates from the region of Samarkand. Shaped like a cake, it is thinner in the center, and has a rather soft crust. It is baked in a tandir, a traditional well-shaped oven.
The bread stamps, called “chekich” in Uzbekistan, are made of walnut wood with iron pins arranged into floral patterns. These are used to emboss various designs at the center of circular flat bread.
In the Uzbek bread bakery, as a rule, only men work.
You should never cut it with a knife, but break it with your hands.
In Uzbekistan, bread is part of the ceremony at the birth of a child, at weddings, when young men leave for the army.
It is a welcome to the guest and a gift upon departure.
A legend tells that one day, the Khan from Bukhara, having tasted the “non” of Samarkand, asked that the best baker of the city be taken with him to make bread in Bukhara. The baker, once in Bukhara, made the bread, but the taste was not the same. The emir was furious and asked his baker for an explanation. The baker told him that it might be because of the flour, which was not the same as the one from Samarkand. The emir sent for flour from Samarkand for his baker, but the bread still didn’t taste the same. Perhaps the water, then? The emir brought water from Samarkand, but nothing helped, the bread still didn’t have the same taste as what he had tasted before. The baker finally explained to him that what was missing in the bread was the air of Samarkand. The emir, not being able to bring air, let the baker come back to Samarkand, so that he could send him bread made in Samarkand.
There is a tradition, if you go anywhere, to take Samarkand bread as a present.