Tajikistan Food and Drink
Over the last few years, dining options have improved substantially in the cities and it is now possible to find most culinary forms somewhere in Dushanbe. However, the quality is variable and once out into the countryside options rapidly shrink to Central Asian staples.
In a country where most farmers are operating at subsistence level, the volume of production always beats quality. Furthermore, food sellers are prone to display their best wares on the surface and if you dig deeper you'll usually find poorer quality goods awaiting the unwary buyer.
If you are invited into a house as a guest you will insult the local person if you don't stay at least for tea and many will instantly commence cooking for you.
You will be invited to sit on tushucks (thin pallets) around a tablecloth on the floor upon which the meal will be served. You should never touch the tablecloth with your feet.
Plov: A hearty one-pot dish of rich, lamb fat and root vegetables.
Lagman: Meat soup with noodles and vegetables.
Mante: Steamed meat dumplings that may be served with a spicy dip.
Beshbarmak: The Tajik/Kyrgyz of the Eastern Pamir frequently serve this tasty dish involving large pieces of mutton in a broth with noodles or potatoes.
Non: Flat bread served with every meal. Custom dictates that diners should never turn their bread upside down or throw their bread away.
Apricots: Apricot jam and dried apricots appear on most Tajik tables.
Zeliony, or chorny chai: Green, or black tea.
It's normal to tip 10%. If you've had a guest meal in a homestay you should repay that hospitality with a gift or payment that does not insult the owner – up to $5 should be fine.