All things counter, original, spare and strange in Khujand, Tajikistan

How to Make Osh

Osh is basically the national dish of Tajikistan. If you want to make osh, simply follow the steps below:

First, get a nice old man to fry you up some meat in a giant wok over a fire. If a nice elderly Tajik person is not available, make one of those little hats for yourself and get to work. Goat and cow meat are both acceptable. In Tajik: gooshti booz or gooshti gov. Use oil liberally. And by liberally I mean excessively. And by excessively I mean a lot.

Next, procure a mountain of rice and go through it with your hands to remove the stones. If during this process you discuss the latest neighborhood gossip, the osh will taste better.

Now make a salad. You will need tomatoes, cucumbers, dill, cilantro and vinegar. Chop it all up and soak it in the vinegar. No osh is complete without a nice vinegary salad.

Now dump the rice in the big vat of oil, preceded by a large bunch of shredded carrots. Add some spices and let that mess bubble for a while.

Once the rice has soaked up the oil, poke some holes in the pile to let the meat aroma arise through the rice. You’ve now made a lovely heaping mound of osh! Congratulations.


Optional: if you bury a quince fruit (known as bihi here) in the mound of osh, it will get soft and sweet and delicious, making a great side item.

Note: I took the photos above when a local NGO in Dushanbe invited me to one of their parties. It was one of the best afternoons I’ve spent here. There’s nothing like communal osh preparation for a good afternoon of collaborative cooking. Of course, in a more traditional setting the woman of the house would just do everything.


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