From Uzbekistan to the Kulturbrauerei, via Kharkiv – Aktam and Zukhra’s experience provides yet another twist on refugee culinaria. Evocatively named after their place of origin, the Taste of Samarkand food truck is a hive of Sunday morning activity as the couple prepare the Uzbek variant of plov rice, simply flavoured with carrots and seasoned with salt and pepper. Adding to the mix of Uzbek staples, puff pastry chicken samsa pasties and a hearty version of manti dumplings pile up on taster plates.
A Russian-speaking woman is eating a large helping of plov. “It tastes like home,” she says.
For 30 years, Aktam and Zukhra lived in a small town near Kharkiv, Ukraine. This spring, together with their four children, they embarked on the long journey west. They survived war zones and separation before boarding a train to Hamburg. A Berlin-based volunteer they met on that train brought them to the Hauptstadt and helped them access financial support from the JobCenter.
In Berlin, they met Ernazar, originally from Kyrgyzstan, who was looking to work in the food industry. Together they asked Kulturbrauerei organisers if they could sell Uzbek food at the Sunday food market. Beginnings were modest, but the team felt strongly about presenting Uzbek cuisine and persevered. After early days in a “four-by-three metre tent and a rental truck,” a revamped DHL vehicle and Ebay-purchased equipment have helped turn vision into reality.
That was summer. Now, it’s a Sunday in autumn: time for some comfort food, Uzbek style. A small fan base queue has already formed at the Taste of Samarkand truck. A Russian-speaking woman is eating a large helping of plov. “It tastes like home,” she says.
- Taste of Samarkand KulturBrauerei, Schönhauser Allee 36, Prenzlauer Berg, Sun 12-17