Archive for the ‘TWotD’ Category

  • Шашлык [shashlik] n. grilled meat, typically served on sticks or skewers and prepared over hot coals; commonly found in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Russia.


To echo something I said in the last installment of Tajik Word of the Day, no trip to Tajikistan would be, could be, complete without eating шашлык.  Ground lamb шашлык, known as farsh, is being prepared in a riverside park in Khujand in the photo above.

There’s a wide variety of types of шашлык, ranging from simple chunks of meats on a skewer to more elaborate, and typically fatty, concoctions.  For example, roulet is a type of шашлык in which strips of lamb meat are rolled together with strips of lamb fat to form little swirls, which are then skewered and grilled.  Yum, lipids.  Шашлык also comes in a wide variety of different meats.  Lamb and beef are the most common here in Dushanbe, but I absolutely loved the yak шашлык I had in a re-purposed storage container in the Murghab bazaar.

I need to start figuring out how to get yak meat in Harare.

Extreme zoom!

As you can see, no stick of шашлык is complete without a pile of raw onions on top.  A liberal dousing with vinegar is also a must, at least for me.

Is it wrong that one of the things I’ll miss about Tajikistan is the шашлык?

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  • ош [osh] n. an entree made from rice, shredded carrots, chickpeas, lamb, and often other ingredients, like garlic, all cooked in a cast-iron pot with cottonseed oil; the national dish of several Central Asian countries, including Tajikistan; also called plov and pilaf.

Delicious! (Most of the time anyway)

No trip to Tajikistan would be, could be, complete without eating ош.

Tajik cuisine has three standard dishes: osh (or as I typically call it, plov, its Russian name), laghman (a noodle dish, sometimes in soup, sometimes not), and qurtob (chunks of bread soaked in oil and spicy yogurt).  These recipes are also claimed by Tajikistan’s neighbors in Central Asia, and every country, heck, every region within every country, proudly say that they make the best versions of each of these staples.  I like the Gharmi version of osh the best, I think — the garlic they add tweaks the usual just enough, and in a good way, to make it stand out.

I’m going to have “TWotD” posts on each of the three key dishes of the Tajik people in the coming weeks.  Hopefully, I’ll post recipes too so all you enterprising home chefs can give them a try if you want, though the quality of meat at home is too high to get a true sense of the plov-eating experience here.

*** UPDATE: Of course, how could I forget shashlik?  I’ll be doing a post on that delicacy of meat chunks soon as well.

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  • тираги [tiragi] n. gloom

Another gray, cloudy day in Dushanbe; a day that seems filled with тираги.  Things have been good here, but sometimes the weather is ick.  After seven years in Ithaca, and knowing how it has been wicked cold at home, I’m not complaining.  Well, not much.  Just observing.

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  • сафар [safar] n. travel

As in, I’ve been on a bit of a сафар binge of late, first going to Istanbul and then heading off to Moscow on Thursday.  I took over 300 photos in the former Constantinople née Byzantium, and sadly, I’ve only posted 17 of them as of yet.  But the trip was terrific and I do plan to blog a bit about it.  Maybe that’ll happen this week before I go to Russia, but I’m not full of hope on that front.

In the meantime, one of my favorite pictures from the Istanbul trip is below.

A view of the Blue Mosque from an upstairs window of Hagia Sophia

A view of the Blue Mosque from an upstairs window of Hagia Sophia

I had to stand on my tip-toes to see through the window, and after I saw the view, I raised my arm and took the best shot I could.  When I looked on my camera’s viewfinder, the photo was terrible.  Luckily, with the magic of digital photography, that one got deleted and after several more tries, I captured the Blue Mosque in the distance as seen through the exterior domes surrounding the Hagia Sophia.

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  • парвоз [parvoz] n. flight

As in, I am taking a парвоз to Istanbul on Thursday.

I hope to do a blog post or two in addition to this one before I leave, and then hopefully, I’ll give you guys something from the Golden Horn too.  But in the likely event that I am enjoying myself sightseeing, or in a hammam, or buying carpets, or something, I’ll post pix when I get back to the Dush next week.

And yes, this is a vacation.

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  • туxm [tuxm] n. egg
Not the eggs benedict I had

Not the eggs benedict I had

As in, I had a terrific eggs benedict for breakfast at LGD this morning.  A little light on the bacon (it is a Muslim country, I suppose), but otherwise it was just great.  The benny was also a bit pricey at 27 somoni (approximately $6.08), but it was worth every diram.

Now, if the copy of the Guardian they had there hadn’t been from early July, that would’ve really been something.

Word on the street, however, is that the Hyatt’s Sunday brunch blows away the one at the Dame and that it is a major see-and-be-seen event, especially for Americans here.  I had dinner at the Hyatt last week, and it was like stepping back into the First World.  Attentive service, fluent English, clean bathrooms, and lovely food (salmon! brie! pasta salad without mayo!).  Of course, at 135 somoni for the brunch, the Hyatt makes my eggs benedict look cheap.

Thanks to the Taste Tests blog for the excellent photo of eggs benedict from The Cottage restaurant in La Jolla, CA.

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  • тарбуз [tarbuz] n. watermelon

As in, I have had more тарбуз in Tajikistan than at any other point in my entire life.

A common sight in these parts

A common sight in these parts

People here are always carrying watermelons around with them, as ungainly as that seems and actually is, because watermelon is served at practically every meal and occasion.  The typical Tajik watermelon is more spherical than the oval type that I’m used to from the States, and it fairly bursts with flavor.  They are like watermelons on ‘roids, which is a good thing (so long as ‘roids haven’t been used in the actual fertilization process, which I don’t believe they have).

Hurray for тарбуз!

Thanks to Hive Mind search at Flickr for finding the photograph.

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  • Умед доштан [umed doshtan] v.t. to hope

For example: Today, I am supposed to get my internet service installed at my apartment.  As Dumas said in The Count of Monte Cristo, “All human wisdom is summed up in these two words — wait and умед доштан.”

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  • кўл [kül] n. lake

I’m heading to Nurek Lake south of Dushanbe tomorrow to hike and swim, and it’s supposed to be pretty cool, so hopefully I’ll get some more photos for all y’all.  We’ll see if the thunderstorms that are predicted for tomorrow hold off.

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  • Джошуа Фридман

For those of you who can read Cyrillic, it is clear was the above words are.

For those of you who can’t, that’s how you render my name in Tajik (and Russian for that matter).

I know this for a fact not because my Cyrillic reading skills are so hot, which they’re not, because this is how my name appears on my business card.  The NGO community here, and I gather most everywhere where a non-Roman alphabet is used, has an English language version on one side of the card, and a native language version in the local alphabet on the other.  So, on my double-sided business card, one side has my name as I’m used to writing it and the other side has the Cyrillic version shown above.

This makes a ton of sense if you think about it.  It’s the sort of thing that I had never thought about before I came out here, but that I understood immediately when I saw it for the first time.  (Here’s a dorky e-mail exchange about two-sided business cards and registering domain names in multiple alphabets for those who are interested.)

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