Turkmenistan cuisine reflects in its people that has a blend of its nomadic past, ethnic Turkmen majority, and Uzbek, Russian and Tajik minorities. Turkmen cuisine is piled high with meat, rice, sour milk products, cereals, vegetables, cheeses and butter made from camel’s milk. A distinctive feature of Turkmen cooking is preserving the original flavors of the ingredients and not covering them with intense herbs and spices.
A meat-lovers paradise, dishes include lamb, chicken, hares, gazelle, deer, camel, a medium-sized game bird called ptarmigans, and other wild birds. The consumption of horsemeat is prohibited, as horses are considered sacred animals since ancient times. (The Akhal-Teke, a breed famous for its stunning coat with a metallic look, is the national emblem of Turkmenistan.)
Turkmen cuisine is known for its hearty meat dishes, breads, and soups, as well as its sweet and spicy seasonings. The use of tea is also a ubiquitous aspect of Turkmen culture, and it is often served as a sign of hospitality. Hospitality is a key aspect of Turkmen culture, and guests are treated with great respect and generosity. It is customary to offer tea, sweets, and other treats to guests, and to provide them with a comfortable place to stay.
Dograma is the most traditional Turkmen dish that is only found in Turkmenistan. This dish is reserved for special occasions. The name of the dish originates from the word “dogramak” which means to cut to pieces and refers to the making of dograma. It begins with baking multiple flatbreads in a tandyr (clay oven) and boiling fresh mutton in a large pot until the meat is tender enough to fall off the bones. The bread is then torn into small pieces – a task that usually involves the entire family – and mixed with slices of onion and shredded meat. Eventually, dograma is dipped into a bowl and covered with hot broth for each guest to enjoy.
Pishme is little fried pieces of dough made for special events. They’re also served as appetizers and offered to the guests as a welcoming gesture. It is a prototype of other Central Asian boorsok /baaursak. Pishme is a traditional Turkmen snack that is served with green tea during celebrations, especially weddings, and other celebrations.
Fitchi (Meat Pies)
These meat pies are originally a take on the Turkmen traditional dish Ishlekli (Işlekli), meat pie cooked in the heat of the sand or clay oven but today the adapted version can be cooked in a regular oven.
Turkmens have a strong and long traveling nomadic clan of Central Asia and the custodian of the precious sheep, goat, cattle, and camel genetic resources. A major part of the community is settled in the towns however, a fairly large portion of the population still loves livestock keeping in nomadic style. Those people are still practicing camel nomadism for ages and owning a very famous and good milking came breed.
Chal (fermented camel's milk)
Chal, is the fermented camel milk traditionally prepared by Turkmen nomads. Chal in Turkmenistan, in Kazakhstan known as “Shubat” fermented camel milk flashing white with a sour flavor. “Chal” is normally prepared by first souring camel milk in a skin bag or ceramic jar by adding previously soured milk.
For 3–4 days, fresh milk is mixed in, and the matured “chal” will consist of one-third to one-fifth of previously soured milk. Camel milk will not sour for up to 72 hours at temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F). At 30 °C (86 °F) the milk sours for approximately 8 hours (compared to cow’s milk, which sours within 3 hours).
Best destinations to enjoy Turkmen Cuisine
Page updated 26.2.2023