Uzbekistan’s Best Markets Under the Camera

photography by: Omri Westmark

Internationally speaking, Uzbekistan is considered a relatively new country, yet as an ancient cultural and economic crossroad between China and Europe, its history dates back far earlier than the country’s modern existence. Blessed with rich soil, Uzbekistan is also an agricultural powerhouse, often branded as the bread basket of Central Asia. Consequently, both its important historical context and ample crops play a major role in the current national market scene, making it one of the country’s best highlights, three of which were captured by my camera to behold at.

Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent

Unlike the ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, the country’s capital, Tashkent, doesn’t have plenty of architectural treasures related to the Silk-Road trade, but what the city lacks in historic landmark, it makes up in a vibrant bazaar, brimming with any imaginable item, encompassing every facet of Uzbek culture and cuisine.


Chorsu’s main domed building is the Bazaar’s epicenter, odors of meat, dairy and pickles are all merged, wafting throughout its semi spherical space.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Chorsu Market from the outside, its dome is embellished with Islamic art and arches.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The sounds, the smells, the sights echoing throughout this hall are all extremely captivating. The building’s first floor is dedicated mostly to butchery and dairy stalls, while the second one is allocated for nuts, seeds, raisins and dry stuff.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Noodles booth on the left, selling the famous local pulled noodles, extensively incorporated in the Uzbek cuisine, most notably in Lagman, the local version of Ramen. On the right is a sour cream stall offering fresh dairy products, both smelly and scrumptious.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Another source of intense odors is this stall, selling horse meat sausages alongside large chunks of lamb fat, for the enthusiastic carnivores among you.

photography by: Omri Westmark


This vivid pickle stand has a hodgepodge of colorful pickled cabbage, carrot, cucumber and other kinds of vegetables.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The market’s BBQ section is right in front of the metro station, two arcades host dozens of shashlik stands, offering a variety of skewed meat and other typical Uzbek dishes, while the sitting area is just behind.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Tashkent style Naryn is probably the city’s most famous dish, made of finely chopped horse meat mixed with homemade noodles, if you wish to try something truly local then you must give it a try.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Besides Naryn, the BBQ section has many other traditional bites, like peppers stuffed with lamb and herbs and a savory chicken.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Skewed meat is prepared at a customer request, guaranteeing its freshness. While the most popular shashlik is by far the fatty lamb, other options like pullet and beef are also available.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The shashlik itself is served with onion rings, garnished with a pinch of sumac powder.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Zucchinis, bok-choy, radish and cabbage, all are gracefully placed on each other to entice passersby.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Uzbekistani fruits are remarkable, juicy and full of authentic flavor, partly attributed to the country’s rich soil, but also to the cultivation methods and the lack of gene modification.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Meticulously arranged pyramids of vividly yellow lemons add a lot of elegancy when strolling between the different stalls.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Packages of potatoes and onions dominate large parts of the vegetables section.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Tomato-only stand, stacked with glittering tomatoes, some of which are halved so customers can have glimpse of their freshness.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Light orange squashes embellish the Bazaar’s space, each of them having their own distinct shape.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The vista visible from the bazaar itself – a large parking lot, a turquoise domed mosque and a soviet style residential building.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Like other central Asian nations, Uzbek people are a huge fan of Kurt, this mostly spherical treat is made of dried sour milk or yoghurt, distinguished by its tangy flavor which could be a bit rough for first timers.

photography by: Omri Westmark


A large section in Chorsu is solely dedicated for Kurt, reflecting the nation addiction to this milky snack.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The Uzbek melon is one of a kind, this heavenly treat is sweet, aromatic and juicy even when compared to organic ones in developed countries. Chorsu Bazaar has few booths allocated entirely for melons, some of which offer fresh slices for less than 10 US cents.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Siyob Bazaar, Samarkand

Probably there isn’t a place more synonymous with the golden age of Muslim scholars than the city of Samarkand, home to mind-boggling architectural marvels, attracting the bulk of international tourists in Central Asia. Occasionally overshadowed by the photogenic blue domes of the nearby madrassas and mosques, the local Bazaar provides a glimpse to the region’s agricultural richness.


Uzbek yellow figs are usually showcased in large wooden baskets, easily appreciable by wandering customers. Those ripe figs are extremely juicy, possessing deep flavors and light sweetness, yummy!

photography by: Omri Westmark


Pomegranate stalls are scattered all over the northeastern part of the market, beautifully stacked on baskets or informal piece of carton.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The aforementioned Uzbek melon is also widely popular at Siyob market, albeit it doesn’t have an appropriate formal stall as in Chorsu.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Handful of egg stands offer both the staple hen eggs, and also the less common and smaller quail’s ones.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Brown and white egg cartons on the backdrop of 15th century Bibi-Khanym Mosque, one of Samarkand’s most renowned architectural marvels, built at the order of Timur, the great conqueror who’s considered as the father of the Uzbek nation.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Perhaps it’s one of Siyob Bazaar’s highlights, a young and friendly vendor eager to communicate with foreigners, patiently describing each and every item at his remarkable nuts stand, generously providing customers free samples, a courtesy widely common in Uzbekistan, known for its exceptional hospitality.
Those stacked natural snacks include apricot kernels, also locally known as Bukhari nuts, a plethora of almonds, sorted by their quality, and the absolutely gorgeous Uzbek walnuts, a crunchy treat with deep earthy flavors.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Siyob Bazaar, like any other central market in Uzbekistan, has a department dedicated for general grocery items, albeit, in contrary to modern supermarkets, some items are not packaged while others are sold as bulk products, in any case, this market section tends to have far lower prices than its more formal version in regulated shops.

photography by: Omri Westmark


A pile of blissful plums – juicy, sweet and aromatic, in terms of quality they easily surpass most plums globally.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Siyob Bazaar’s pickles section is a bit more modest when compared to Chorsu, yet what this section lacks in size it definitely makes up by the vividness and freshness of its scrumptious pickled vegetables.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Uzbekistan is one of the world’s leading producers of raisins, known for their exceptional quality and flavors in comparison to other countries. The most popular type of dried grape is the Sayaki black raisin, considered by many as the finest one, well, I’ll leave it up for you to judge by yourself when visiting this joyful bazaar.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The Central Bazaar, Bukhara

One of the most historically significant cities in Central Asia, Bukhara was a major epicenter of the Silk Road, serving as a transcontinental bridge, leaving many marks on the city’s development throughout the centuries. Abundant with monumental Islamic architecture, its madrassas and mosques are mesmerizing, acting as a time capsule for visitors to awe at. While the city has an old Bazaar, it’s overwhelmingly tourist-oriented, thereby the Central Market outside the old town is where locals buy their everyday grocery, making it far more authentic and interesting.


When visiting Bukhara’s central bazaar, the most striking feature is the vividness of colors, as immense variety of fresh fruits are elegantly showcased next to each other.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Like the fruits sections, the local vegetables also exhibit vividness, evident of their freshness, possible by the fact that in most cases both fruits and vegetables are picked and sold when ripe, unlike the common technique of harvesting unripe agricultural crop to extend its shelf life, so common in developed countries.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Bukhara bazaar’s dried treats section is painfully tempting, full of locally grown raisins, nuts, apricot kernels, almonds and more.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The Kabocha squashes in this stand defy gravity by impossibly standing as proud pumpkin-scrapers.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Tandyr nan is a staple facet of the Uzbek cuisine, coming in many shapes and sizes, accompanying virtually every single meal. The ladies in the picture are selling the Tashkent-style nan as it’s widely popular in the country.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Nans can be made completely flat and crunchy, or alternatively like the triangular ones, a bit thicker and fluffy.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Bukhara central bazaar has plenty of different nan types, each with its own uniqueness and tradition behind it.

photography by: Omri Westmark


Similar to other bazaars in Uzbekistan, Bukhara’s one has a dairy department, offering tangy kurt balls and medley of local cheese, most notably a fresh sheep cheese.

photography by: Omri Westmark


For some reason unknown to me, some of the stalls in this department were almost empty, yet it didn’t downsize the overall experience.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The butchery department sells solely Halal certified meat products. The sights provided by this section might be challenging for animal lovers, while heaven and interesting place for others. Entire skinned animals are displayed as a proof of freshness, leaving a minimum room for imagination regarding its previous lively form.

photography by: Omri Westmark


As you’ve probably understood, in Uzbekistan, there’s no complete bazaar experience without the blissfully famous melon, alluring shoppers with its aromatic flavors and vivid yellowish color. Complementing the melon is another Uzbek highlight, its watery cousin, the sweet and juicy watermelon, exceptionally delicious in its Uzbek version. Those informal vending activities take place outside the official market’s premises, on the backdrop of the 16th century Talipach Gate, one of only two extant remnants of the city’s historic ring of fortifications.

photography by: Omri Westmark