Kazakh NATIONAL
DISHES AND DRINKS

Kazakh cuisine

Kazakh cuisine is profoundly based on the nomadic past of the Kazakh people. The meat has always been dominated in the main meal primarily mutton and horse as well as numerous milk products. The methods of preparation developed essentially of securing food preservation. Therefore, there are many dishes based on smoked meat and soured milk. There was almost no possibility to grow vegetables, but it was possible to exchange some things with neighboring settled nations. 

 

Although, the main food contained in Kazakh cuisine still seems like “meat-dough-onion”. When Kazakhs began to begin a settled way of life, they started to adopt various culinary traditions and enrich their cuisine with the influence of kitchens of those who lived nearby — Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Koreans, Uzbeks, Uighurs, Dungans, and even Chinese. The result is a unique blend of cultures, is today’s Kazakhstani’s national cuisine. 

Kazakh feast Table

Nauryz Kozhe

Nauryz kozhe is a traditional food in Nauryz. The dish combines seven ingredients: smoked meat, milk, millet, wheat, corn, water and butter. Today the recipe for “kozhe” is changing added some additions depending on taste preferences.

Dastarkhan

Dastarkhan is a covered table with many dishes, it is believed that the richer the dastarkhan is in the house, the more hospitable the owner is and the more favorable the fate is to them. 

In Kazakhstan they say “before doing any business with the guest, feed him”.

kyrgyz food table

Meat Dishes

Most Kazakh cuisine is consist of meat particularly from the meat of the next four kinds of animal meat such as horses, camels, cows, and sheep. Horse and camel meat are the two primary types of festival meats while the horse stands the main same in Kyrgyzstan. On the other hand, camel is still not as typical for festivities because the camels in Kazakhstan are not as common as horses. Next goes the meat of sheep and cow as more common and are daily meat in contrast to the horse.

chuchuk

Qazi, Karta, Shuzhuk / Horsemeat

Horsemeat is very much loved and cooked in different ways. Horsemeat is the most valuable kind of meat for Kazakh, and if you are offered to taste it, it is a sign of great respect and hospitality. There is also Sur Yer, the dried horsemeat.

Significant food of the Kazakhs, which perhaps must be tasted – homemade sausages made of horsemeat: kazy, shuzhyk, karta, etc. These dishes are considered a great delicacy that contains energy.

Beshbarmak

Beshbarmak is the king of Kazakh dastarkhan. This celebratory dish consists of several types of boiled meat (beef, lamb, and horsemeat, including homemade horse sausage), boiled thin-rolled dough, and onion dressing. Normally it goes along with the square-shaped noodles. Newerless, depending on the region the dish varies, for instance in Western Kazakhstan they add potatoes to beshbarmak, or there exists a kind of fish beshbarmak — fishbarmak.

The name “beshbarmak” in translation means “five fingers”, it came from ancient times when the dish was eaten by hands. Today there is no such need, and people behind the dastarkhan are quite normal with cutlery although sometimes you can meet people eating with fingers

Kuirdak

Kuyrdak / Qyyrdaq is a roast from internal organs, most often lamb liver, lungs, and kidneys, with potatoes. The word “Kuyrda” means “roast”, “fried”, referring to how the food is made.

A deep-fried, rich dish, which is cooked immediately after a sacrificed animal, skinning the carcasses, only from fresh meat. In Kazakh cusine, kuurdak is often made from sheep’s liver, kidney, heart and lungs. Often the dish is presented to the table with the onion and green.

Kuurdak

Breads

Bread is one of the primary meals of Central Asian people. In Kazakhstan bread is prepared in many ways and eaten in large quantities. 

Baursak

Sweet and crispy baursaks are a great snack in the dastarkhan. Baursaks is balls of yeast dough fried in oil. Baursak is a customary dish of Kazakh nomads. The round shape symbolizes the sun and happiness from the old days. The neighboring Kyrgyz also have their baursaks but in a square shape.

Kazakh baursak

Tandyr nan

Tandyr nan possibly the favorite bread of locals. It is a type of Central Asian bread backed in tandyr (clay oven). 

A disk-shaped round and crispy crust bread. Commonly eaten with tea diffing into the various jams and compotes, kaymak or butter. 

bread baking tandyr

Shelpek

Shelpek is a traditional Central Asian fried bread normally consumed all around the region. The dough is shaped into balls and fried in hot oil until gaining a golden color. Shelpek is usually prepared with yeast, thus the dough stays soft for a longer time. Shelpek is made from basic ingredients like flour, milk, sugar, butter, sour cream such or kaymak, baking soda, salt and oil.

Kazakh National Drinks

Koumiss (mares milk)

Koumiss (Кумыс) is a fermented milk drink, which nomads have always enjoyed. It is a sour-milk low-alcohol beverage made of mares’ milk, tart, acidic, and believed to be good for digestion.

Shubat (camels milk)

Shubbat is a beverage of life, which is made of camel’s milk. It is believed that shubbat is useful if you have asthma, tuberculosis, inflammation of the liver, diabetes, and psoriasis.

women milking mare
women milking camel

Note that sometimes shubbat as well as the koumiss may have unpredictable effects on your stomach because the drink has a high-fat content and a very different bacterial culture that you might be used to.

Nomad snack

Kurut cheesballs in Kyrgyzstan

Qurt

Salted balls of dried cottage cheese are called Kurt. It is a favorite delicacy of Kazakhstani kids and also a great way to preserve dairy products in the long journey, which was very important for nomads.

Uyghur cuisine

Lagman

Central Asia is a home for Uigur diaspora residents. They are Central Asian people of Turkic origin, who once lost their territories during the Chinese expansion. Many residents of the newly formed Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China moved across Central Asian countries fearing Chinese pressure. Today, the Uighurs live compactly in Almaty, Bishkek, Tashkent as well as other countries and regions of Central Asia.

The main and favorite Uighur dish in Central Asia is served everywhere is. Lagman. It is hand-pulled noodles with meat and vegetable gravy. There are several types of Lagman which vary in the bright tastes, ingredients, and well as name.  For example, the Uzbek Lagman, which is also widespread in the border areas with this country, smells quite differently than the Uighur Lagman. Uzbek Lagman always looks like soup, while Uighur one can be liquid, dry, boiled, and fried, and can even turn into “ganfan” if you replace noodles with boiled rice. 

Laghman a type of noodle soup served in Central Asia

Dungan cuisine

Ashlyam-Fu

The Dungans are other minority people who once entered Central Asia in search of a better life from China. They are Chinese-speaking Muslims, who were not always accepted in the Celestial Empire, and many of them found refuge in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Dungan cuisine has a much greater similarity to Chinese culinary traditions. They also have Lagman, manty, and many more amazing foods, but there are more spices. The most famous and favorite dish of Dungan cuisine in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan Ashlyam-Fu. It is a cold vegetable soup with starch noodles or pieces of starch served in the summer heat. Quite an unusual dish with a characteristic bitterness and very unusual structure. There is a lively community of them in Karakol (Kyrgyzstan)  there is also a Dungan mosque in the town. You can also enjoy a Dungan dinner and see how the Chinese and Central Asian cuisines have mixed. 

dungan food
Ashlan Fu is a Dungan cold noodle dish served mostly in the Eastern Issyk Kul area in Karakol

Page updated 15.7.2021

Scroll to Top
error: Alert: Content is protected