Friday, November 28, 2014

Education System in Uzbekistan

In Uzbekistan 11 years of education are compulsory and free. Students attend school Monday through Saturday during the school year., Primary school begins at the age of 6 years. Children spend 4 years at primary school, followed at age 10 by 5 years of secondary education.

At 15 years of age students may leave education or choose between 2 to 3 years of upper seconday education at either general or technical vocational schools. The former provides a certificate of completed secondary education and the opportunity to enter university, the latter a diploma of specialized secondary education, through a network of secondary vocational institutions.

Non university-level vocational education is provided by national enterprise training centres and a number of business schools, as well as lycea that train professionals in new economic and service fields.

Teritiary education is available from over 60 higher education Institutes and Universities which graduate some 600,000 students annually. The three largest centres of Uzbekistan’s institutions of higher learning are Tashkent, Samarkand and Nukus.


and photo (SMEC)

Monday, November 24, 2014

BBC Recipe for Uzbek Plov

Plov”, also known as “Osh” is the main dish of all the Central Asian countries. It is rich, filling and very tasty if prepared right. The main ingredients are carrots, onions, rice, oil and meat. It is cooked traditionally in a Kazan but you may use a cast iron Qazon Oven (or if not available a cast iron dutch oven or similar). 

There are many different recipes however a classic Plov is made as follows.

Recipe for Uzbek Plov (osh) for 10 people.- Ingredients:
  • 1 kg moderately fat lamb or beef
  • 1 kg medium grain rice (paella type)
  • 200-250 ml melted lamb fat or vegetable oil
  • 1 kg carrot (4 large carrots preferably yellow)
  • 3-4 medium size onions
  • 2-3 whole heads of garlic (optional)
  • 1-2 long hot chillies (optional)
  • 1-1.5 tbsp cumin and ground coriander
  • salt to taste 
  • black pepper to taste 

1. Wash the rice under the tap until clear, cover with cold water and let it soaks for a while. Cut the meat with bones into match-box pieces. Cut the carrots into 0.5x0.5 cm thick sticks. Slice onions into thin rings or half-rings. Clean heads of garlic remove roots.

2. Heat oil in a min 5 litre cast iron Kazan (or similiar ie. Dutch Oven) on a very high flame, deep-fry meat until golden-brown, in 3-4 batches. Fry the onions until golden, add meat to the Kazan, stir well to prevent onion from burning. Add carrot, stir from time to time, until it starts to wilt and browns a little (15-20 min). Add 2/3 of the spices - rub it in your palms a little to release flavor, stir gentliy to keep carrot from broking..

3. Lower gas to moderate, pour hot water just to cover all the goods, add salt and let it simmer for 40 min to 1.5 hours until almost all water evaporate and meat became tender and juicy. Do not stir.

4. Turn gas to max. Drain rice well, place it on top the meat and vegs in one layer, stick the garlic and whole chillies in it, and carefully pour boiling water over it (place a spoon or ladle on top of the rice to keep the rice layer from washing away). Cover the rice with about 2 cm of water, let it boil. Add salt to make the water a bit over-salted. When water starts to go down, reduce the gas a bit, keeping it boiling rapidly. Check when it has evaporated and absorbed into rice completely - rice should remain rather al dente. Make a holes in the rice to the bottom of a vessel to allow you to check the water level.

5. Reduce gas to absolute min, cover tightly with the lid and let it steam 20 minutes. Turn of the heat, remove the garlic and chillies on the separate plate. Carefully mix rice with meat and carrots, if the rice tastes a bit blind add some salt, mix and let it stand for 5 minutes. Pile the plov on a big warmed plate and serve with garlic, chilies and plain thinly sliced tomato-sweet onions-chili-salt salad. Carefully mix rice with meat and carrots, if the rice tastes a bit blind add some salt, mix and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Sources: (Ed)

Source of Photographs and recommended additional Uzbek Plov Recipe (

Other post see Karakalpak Pilov:

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Lost River the Uzboy

The Uzboy River (Uzboj) is  located in the north-western part of the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan. Once a distributary of the Amu Darya it is now a dry river channel and a centre for archaeological excavations. The Uzboy once flowed some 750 kilometers, from a branch in the Amu Darya River via Sarykamysh Lake to the Caspian Sea.

A riverine civilization existed along the banks of the river from at least the 5th century BC until the 17th century AD, when the water which had fed the Uzboy abruptly stopped flowing out of the main course of the Amudarya and into the Sarykamysh depression. Today the bed of the ancient Uzboy River passes through these vast sandy expanses of the Karakum desert as a narrow, blue broken stripe.  

In the early 1950s, construction work started to build a major irrigation canal roughly along the river bed of the former Uzboy. However, the project was abandoned in 1953; later on the Qaraqum Canal was constructed along an entirely different, much more southerly, route.

According to scholars, humans started to settle on the lands along the course of the Uzboy in the 5th century BC. The river witnessed many historic events. The troops of King Cyrus II crossed it during his march on the Massagetae. During the war of Alexander the Great with the Persian ruler, King Darius, the tribe of Aderbics, part of the Massagetae, sent 40 thousand infantrymen and 2 thousand horsemen from the region to the camp of Darius the Great in Babylon, evidence of the large population living on the banks of the Uzboy. The numberless hordes of Genghis Khan and the cavalries of Tamerlane would have also crossed the Uzboy.

To protect their territory from the enemy, to control the water and trade routes the inhabitants of the Uzboy built fortification structures. One  such edifice is the stone-built Parthian Fortress the Igdy  Qala built by the parthians to ensure traders using the great silk road paid taxes..


 Igdy quala is a Pathian era fortress built to ensure the payment of taxes. It corresponds to irregular trapezium with 60 х 60 х 75 х 45 m size. The northeast wall is constructed on a steep at a height of 30 m, from remaining 3 sides the fortress is surrounded with a ditch carved in a rock. The fortification is built up from flat stone flags and fortified by right-angled towers (11 towers like these remained throughout the walls’ perimeter, but walls themselves today are only up to 1.5m height).

Inside of the walls and towers there are narrow loopholes arrow-shaped, typical of the military architecture of Khorezm. The outside walls were covered by puddle clay and on the inside there used to be a corridor used as an archers shooting gallery. S.P.Tolstov mentioned that the fortress was constructed from stone which is non-typical of material in Khorezm, however in all other details its external design didn’t differ much from other late Khorezm fortifications. 

By 1717 in the time of Peter the Great an expedition led by Prince Alexander Bekovich-Cherkassky, who had explored the Caspian region made new maps of the Aral and Caspian basins, in which the Amudarya did not flow into the Caspian Sea any more. With the drying out of the Uzboy, the population started to leave this territory. Some went to the east to live on the banks of the Amudarya, the others settled in the foothills of the Kopetdag Mountains, closer to the mountain streams. Nowadays, only a few villages exist on the banks of the Uzboy. There is the preserved moisture in some parts of the bed, but it is salty and is formed due to the nourishment of subsoil waters.

Several small water reservoirs are however still in existence. One of them is salty, and the second one — the Yaskha Lake — is full of fresh water.  From here drinking water is pumped by the 150 km conduit to the residents of the city of Balkanabat, the capital of the oil region of Turkmenistan.

One can observe an unusual thing in other places of the Uzboy riverbed. Very often, small reservoirs consist of two parts — salty and fresh water. In winter, when the sun rises, wild animals and birds come to the small reservoirs to drink water. At this time, the salty layer, due to its heaviness, lies beneath serving as a "cushion" for the fresh water. As soon as it heats the salt water rises (under the effect of temperature) and the water becomes salty.

Well recommended that those interested in this fascinating river read the following publication
Uzboy and the Aral regressions: an hydrological approach
by Igor Plotnikov and Nikola Aladin -Academy of Science, Saint Petersburg, Russia; René Létolle - Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France and Philip Micklin - Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan USA go to

Monday, November 10, 2014

Map of Central Asia during the Russian Empire

Map of Central Asia (Turkestan) : Polish map from 1903 showing the Russian Empire proper in green, Khiva (Chiwa) in brown, and Bukhara (Buchara) in orange. The two tributary states were nearly entirely surrounded by the General Government of Turkestan. After the revolution in 1917 the boundaries were redrawm along broadly ethnic lines and in time 5 Central Asian Republics and two autonomous regions (Parmir and Karakalpakstan)emerged.

Most of Kazakhstan and Karakalpakstan fell under the protection of the Russian Empire under the reign of Peter the Great in the early 1700s (to protect against Djungar Mongol incusions). In the 1860s Russia took control of areas that are now parts of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The Khanate of Khiva and the Emirate of Bukhara both became  protectorates in 1873 and the Tsarist Russia gained control of the Transcaspian region (now Turkmenistan) between 1879 and 1885.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Karakalpakstan is a member of an exclusive club: places which have only a’s for vowels in their name. The others being the Bahamas, Canada, Chad, Ghana, Japan, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Malta, Myanmar, Panama, Qatar and Rwanda. it is the only republic in the world scoring five a’s in a row....