Kazakh cuisine

The formation of traditional Kazakh cuisine took several centuries, during which the ancestors, roaming the harsh steppes, came up with great dishes from a small list of products available to them. In the process of cooking, it was important for them to preserve vitamins and useful properties as much as possible, as well as to extend the shelf life of prepared foods as much as possible. They also did not forget about the pleasant rich taste. So, the ancient Kazakhs invented amazing recipes of drying, smoking and salting meat, which allowed the products to be stored for quite some time. All this was reflected in modern Kazakh cuisine. Therefore, today it is a complete reflection of the culture, history, traditions of this incredibly hospitable people.


Almost all Kazakh dishes consist of meat: lamb and horse meat. Dough and dairy products are also very popular here. As for meat, lamb is the most common type of meat for Kazakhs. Horsemeat is cooked less often. This meat is usually prepared for various holidays, a variety of delicacies are created from it. It is also worth noting that, in addition to lamb and horse meat, Kazakhs also widely use other types of meat: poultry, beef, goat, camel. But seafood here is not so common, because in the fields that ancient Kazakhs roamed for many years, it was impossible to find sea fish. Fans of a vegetarian lifestyle will also not find a wide variety of dishes. But there is plenty of meat, dairy and flour treats.


It is worth noting the multinationality of the Kazakhs, which influenced the lifestyle, culture, and, of course, the cuisine of the republic. So, under the influence of Russian and Ukrainian culture, people recognized and loved such dishes and drinks as borsch, dumplings, and compote. The Uyghur people once introduced the Kazakhs to a delicious lagman. Uzbeks contributed pilaf to the Kazakh cuisine and so on.


Kazakhs eat a low table, located on the wide wooden deck chairs. This table is called dastarkhan. Also, the Kazakh people love to eat from beautiful dishes painted with various patterns. Richer people can afford tableware decorated with silver. Wooden utensils are also very popular. So, for example, wooden spoons are available in every Kazakh family. At the same time, the importance of utensils is necessarily demonstrated to guests.


The tea ceremony is very interesting in Kazakhstan. It is given no less attention than the whole food culture. Tea is served to guests in small cups called pialas. The drink is not poured to the edges of the cup. Kazakhs have a tradition: the less tea is poured into a cup, and the more often the host pours the guest a hot drink, the more he cares about the guest and wants him to stay longer. Conversely, if there is a lot of tea in the cup, the guest might think that he is not welcome, and he should leave the house as soon as possible.


Main dishes of Kazakh cuisine


This list contains the most popular dishes of traditional Kazakh cuisine.


1. Beshbarmak


Some people call this dish a visiting card of the Republic of Kazakhstan because of its huge popularity. It also has another name - “Five Fingers”, which is explained by the way the food is eaten: it is eaten without a fork or spoon, picking the ingredients with all five fingers of the hand. The dish consists of meat (usually horse meat or lamb) and large layers of boiled pasta in the form of rectangles. This paste is prepared from dense egg dough. Also, the cheese-based sauce is served to the named ingredients. When serving, the paste is laid out on a flat large plate, and the meat is placed on top. Typically, the host serves dishes to guests in order of importance.


2. Kuyrdak


This dish is a stew of potatoes with the internal organs of a lamb: lungs, kidneys, heart, liver. The chef first cooks the meat ingredients, and then adds the onions, potatoes, spices and the dish is stewed until cooked. It is served hot with sprinkled greens.


Kuyrdak is considered one of the oldest dishes of Kyrgyz cuisine. Kyrgyz can cook it from any meat except pork, as many of them are Muslims.


3. Kazy


This is horse meat sausage, which is considered a true and very expensive delicacy among Kazakhs. The prepared sausage is dried or smoked. Fatty meat from horse ribs is taken as a filling, which is tightly stuffed into the intestine. Sometimes, along with the meat, a rib is inserted into the intestine to give the product the desired shape.


4. Shuzyk


This is another type of sausage made from horse meat. But in this case, not the ribs are taken, but the pulp, which is rubbed with salt and kept for several days in a cool place before being placed in the intestine. During cooking, fat is added to the meat. When the sausage is ready, it is smoked or dried.


5. Bauyrsak


This is one of the obligatory refreshments in most Kazakh families. It can be both a festive and everyday dish. It is worth noting the versatility of the bauyrsaks, because they are eaten with shurpa, tea, koumiss and a variety of snacks.


So, to prepare this treat, a sour or unleavened dough is kneaded. Then balls or cakes are formed, which are fried in a large amount of melted lard or vegetable oil.


6. Shelpek


This is a cake that Kazakhs make from yeast, puff or unleavened dough. The dough is rolled into thin cakes, usually baked in a hot deep frying pan, and much less often - in the tandoor.


7. Sorpa


This is a traditional Kazakh soup. It is also known as shurpa. It is prepared from lamb and vegetables. The broth is made fatty, rich, and meat and vegetables are cut into fairly large pieces. The dish is seasoned with spices, sprinkled with herbs and served hot.




Traditional Kazakh drinks


The most popular traditional drinks of Kazakhs are koumiss and ayran.


Koumiss is made from fresh mare's milk, which undergoes the fermentation process in large leather containers. Sometimes mare's milk can be replaced with donkey or cow. Depending on the fat content and density of the milk, it can ferment from 3 to 5 days. Koumiss contains biologically active substances. The drink is famous for its healing properties and is able to strengthen the immune system.


Ayran is considered a summer drink. So, with the onset of heat, it is cooked in almost every Kazakh family. In fact, it is sour cow's milk diluted with water. Drink quenches thirst well, gives strength.


Popular borrowed dishes


Over time, Kazakh cuisine was replenished with new dishes, borrowed from other peoples. Some of them took root here so much that many began to consider them truly native.


1. Shashlyk


Char grilled meat is very popular among Kazakhs and guests of the republic. Any meat is taken for shashlyk: lamb, pork, beef and others.


2. Pilaf


Kazakhs cook pilaf excellently. Most often among the Kazakhs it is called palau. This aromatic dish of rice and meat is seasoned with special spices and prepared according to their own unique recipe.


3. Manti


Kazakh manti are usually steamed. As a filling, they take meat in its pure form, or they can add pumpkin to it.


4. Lagman


This is a dish of Central Asian cuisine. But in Kazakhstan they cook it no worse. The main ingredients are long homemade noodles, meat slices (usually beef), vegetables, spices and a little broth. The dish looks like a very thick soup.


5. Dumplings


Siberian dumplings took root well among the Kazakhs, who perfectly cook this dish for themselves and their guests.


6. Borsch


This traditional Ukrainian dish is also prepared by Kazakhs. The main ingredients are broth, meat (most often, it is pork or chicken), potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, cabbage. Borsch is served to guests with sour cream and tortillas.


7. Samsa


This is pastry with the ground meat. Traditionally, samsa is made in the shape of triangles. For the filling, they take beef and onions. Samsa can be baked both in a conventional oven and in a tandoor.


8. Compote


Kazakhs can offer their guests compote made from fresh or dried fruit.


9. Morse


Another drink inherent mainly in Russian cuisine. It is boiled exclusively from berries.


So, Kazakh dishes are rich, harmonious, and certainly very tasty. Despite the traditions and lifestyle through which the whole cuisine of this people was formed, the trends of the time also had a great influence. So, given the great popularity of Japanese and European cuisine, in many cafes and restaurants it’s possible to find Japanese rolls and soups, Italian pizza, Ukrainian borsch and other dishes that would seem to have absolutely nothing to do with Kazakhs. Each store sells Coke, Fanta, German sausages, beer and so on. This proves that the Kazakhs are a modern people, keeping pace with the times.


But, nevertheless, the truly traditional Kazakh cuisine deserves special attention. This is the cuisine that every guest of the republic should try. And surely each of them will find favourite Kazakh dish, which, like the Kazakhs, no one else can cook. Edited 2020may7