Uzbek urik (apricot). Kuraga

 

The richest gifts of Uzbekistan are juicy and sweet fruits, berries and vegetables that please the eye and nourish body from early spring to late autumn. Urik is one of the earliest that starts to bloom. What is urik? Mmm, it's very tasty, sweet and sunny fruit!

Uzbek urik (apricot). KuragaUzbek urik is practically the apricot, but its Central Asian varieties have certain species and taste differences. In Uzbekistan smaller breeds are called «urik», while «apricot» is the name for larger and nicer fruits. Some believe urik to be suitable for drying only. Although it is far from truth, as urik is an embodiment of delight, bright taste, aroma and juiciness of a hot summer.

Early varieties of urik begin to blossom in March when there is still a possibility of snowfall. If it occurs one can see an amazing struggle between leaving winter and coming spring. Blooming apricot trees are covered in snowflakes, which, however, melt in a couple of days. Cities and suburbs are filled with divine aromas of flowering apricot trees, shortly afterwards they are followed with cherry and plum, alycha (cherry plum), apple-trees, quince, and much more to blossom.

Urik begins to ripe up in the spring, actually, it tries to ripe, as his children snatch off it while green and unripe - both for fun and to taste it while sour. As demand creates supply, unripe urik  (doucha) nowadays can even be found on sale. Markets often sell fine small apricots with "freckles" (brown small dots), they should not embarrass you, it is just as tasty and harmless.

Uzbek urik (apricot). KuragaThe favorable natural conditions allow to grow different kinds of apricots in Uzbekistan - from early spring varieties to late autumn (September, Namangan), and also to dry it naturally - in the shade under the wings of a warm breeze.

The most of apricot gardens are in green Fergana valley, Tashkent, Surkhandarya and Zarafshan regions. There are many varieties of these fruits depending on shape, color and taste. The urik can be large and very small (less than a walnut), bright orange and whitish, with a red blush and without, with a little nap and «bald».

Some sorts of apricot are excellent for drying. These are such varieties as Isfarak, Mirsanjali. Others are table varieties and used for food and stews. The breeds used for drying have a dense pulp, and therefore, the fruit preserves almost entirely when dried.

There are also varieties of urik, which are divided into two halves easily, and the stone is separated from the pulp quickly, while in others it is densely immersed in the pulp - these are dried whole. Uzbek urik (apricot). Kuraga There are several basic ways of drying apricots. The first one is to leave it whole and untouched on the tree until the process is complete.  The second one is to make «kaysa» - whole fruit that was gathered, the stone was removed, and then one dries, naturally in the shade or in the sun. When ripe urik is divided into halves and then sulfured one gets «kuraga».

The golden dried urik and dried apricots are very useful for health. Due to special processing this type of dried fruit could be stored for long and still looks well after long haul. However it is better to wash dried urik in boiling water before eating to make it softer. Soaking it in hot water for a longer time gives a deeper effect. The infusion is also very tasty and healthy.

The dried fruits are a concentrate of vitamins. The moisture evaporates from the fruit, and only the «gusto» - best part is left. Uzbek urik (apricot). KuragaTherefore, dried fruits are best to be eaten in winter, as a natural replacement for artificial pharmacy vitamins. Dried fruits are eaten crude, they are used in baking, or they are stewed to make a delicious drink. If you want to try making it from dried fruits, we recommend adding sugar after the drink is ready and strained. Although for those who do not like it too sweet, sugar shouldn’t be added at all - there is enough sweetness in the dried fruit.

It is better to store kuraga and generally all dried fruits in a rag bag, so that they "breathe". Even dried fruits retain some moisture, therefore they can quickly mold in plastic bags.

The table varieties of apricot contain more juice, so they cannot be dried. Even if one dries such fruits, they will only become hard, inedible skin. Therefore, if you tried to dry the apricot in your garden unsuccessfully, do not be disappointed - it just requires certain Central Asian varieties.

Uzbek urik (apricot). KuragaThe fruit contains a lot of useful substances: organic acids, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, vegetable protein and complex carbohydrates. Despite the fact that the apricot is very sweet, it is a natural "fat burner", and the complex carbohydrates that make up it are easily digested and do not turn into fat. The dried apricots are eaten raw, or used to make a drink - urik sharbati (apricot juice), dried (turshak, kaisa, kuraga), cooked (jams, jams, compotes), prepare the pastille. Jams from dried apricots are often used in sweet samsa, pancakes and pies. The apricot is good with bread, for example, with hot Uzbek flat bread.

Apricot stones are also used, in particular to make a shurdanak - the unique delicacy of Central Asia. It is unpeeled salted apricot stones - white or grayish, slightly broken at the seam. They get their color while being cooked - salted apricot stones are baked in the ashes. It is almost impossible to stop eating them! To satisfy your appetite for stones the market sells peeled apricot stones and various oriental sweets from them.

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