Samarkand: Eleanor Ford on why she’s co-written an Uzbek cookbook (Evening Standard)

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Victoria Stewart meets the co-author of a new book of recipes and stories inspired by Central Asia and the Caucasus. (Image: Christopher Herwig)

I have never visited the Uzbek city Samarkand. Yet talking to Eleanor Ford, the co-author of a new cookbook ‘Samarkand: Recipes and Stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus’, I feel as if I have been instantly transported there, so rich is the tapestry of tales she and her childhood friend Caroline Eden have woven together.

The book is filled with introductions to the various culinary traditions of the area, interspersed with recipes like apricot and red lentil soup, Kazan kebabs, pilavs and plovs (a lamb and rice pilaf), to Kyrgyz swirled onion flatbread, mountain Jew omelette, kuksu noodle soup and tarragon soda. It is clearly a cookbook that will open up many eyes – as it has mine – to the varied and wide-ranging cooking styles that come out of this country’s city and its surrounding area, and indeed Ford says that at home in London, little is known about it:

“People are aware that it falls between Europe and Asia but I feel that many people don’t know much about this part of the world that actually has much of our early history – and they certainly don’t know much about the food.”

The full article was originally published in The Evening Standard, in 2016.