Kazakhstan is a Turkic nation. Six countries are included in the Turkic nation, namely Kazakhstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
These countries have similarities in language, customs, and religion. However, for culinary matters, each country has its peculiarities, including Kazakhstan.
Kazakh cuisine focuses on meat-based foods, such as beef, lamb, and camel. Since the majority of the population of Kazakhstan is Muslim, they do not consume pork.
The choice of residents of this country is horse meat seasoned with spices and sauces. If you want to know more about Kazakh cuisine, let’s look at the following review!
Shelpek is a traditional Kazakh flatbread. This bread is made using a mixture of flour, milk, sugar, salt, baking powder or yeast, and oil for frying. After mixing, the dough is made into balls and then each is thinned into a flat round.
The thinned dough is then put in hot oil and fried until both sides are golden. Shelpek is a very important dish on Fridays. This bread is prepared to honor the memory of those who have died. Once cooked, this flatbread is folded, then served with cheese, jam, or sour cream.
Usually, this bread is eaten in the afternoon accompanied by a cup of tea. This light and fluffy flatbread can also be eaten as a companion to a variety of stews and curries.
- Tandyr Nan
Another bread that is a specialty of Kazakhstan is tandyr nan. This bread, popular in Kazakhstan and other parts of Central Asia, is disc-shaped.
Tandyr nan is a Central Asian version of naan bread made using tandyr (tandoor). This bread has various names depending on the country of origin and how it is made.
This loaf is about the size of a dinner plate and is characterized by its raised edges and curved center. This bread can be made in various ways, some made plain, enriched with eggs, or sprinkled with sesame seeds or nigella.
Usually, the plain version is eaten for breakfast, while the heavier version is eaten for lunch or dinner accompanied by salad and meat dishes. In Kazakh restaurants, you may find this bread in a smaller and very decorative size called damdy nan.
Although the name means tandoor, it turns out that the Kazakh version of tandyr nan is not baked in a clay tandoor like in Uzbekistan.
Instead, the bread is baked between two metal griddles, both in the oven and in the more traditional way, over a dung-based fire. This is a portable mini oven that is perfect for the nomadic lifestyle.
Zhaya is a typical Kazakh dish made from horse meat. The specialty of this dish is that it uses meat obtained from the animal’s hips and hind legs.
This meat is then salted, dried, and smoked. Usually, before consumption, the horse meat is boiled for approximately two hours and is generally served with sliced vegetables on top.
Zhaya is often eaten as an appetizer served cold with other horse meat specialties although it can also be added to various dishes such as salads.
Beshbarmak is the national dish of Kazakhstan. This dish is in the form of boiled meat served with thin pasta sheets and a sauce (chyk) whose ingredients are onions, beef broth, pepper, and salt.
This dish most often uses horse meat and mutton but can also be made using beef.
If there is one of the most culturally important Kazakh foods it is beshbarmak. Even the way to serve this food is determined by a ritual called ustukan.
When an animal is slaughtered in honor of a guest, the hosts serve different cuts of meat to people based on their age, gender, and social rank.
The best cuts of meat are always served to the oldest and most distinguished guests. For example, the eldest male is given a thigh bone, known as a jambash, while the oldest and most respected female is given a tailbone called a kuiruk or kuymulchak.
The daughter-in-law at home is given a smaller bone. Younger adults were given legs and shoulders, while children were given animal spines, known as omurtka.
The guest of honor or the oldest or youngest male is given one of the best parts of the animal, namely the head called the bash. This part is given to be cut into pieces and shared with others. Other animal parts such as the femur, shin, and ribs are also divided according to tradition. Beshbarmak is the national dish of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan but is widely consumed throughout Central Asia. This food has different names, such as Naryn, dograma, turama, khorkhog, and tullama.
Beshbarmak means “five fingers”. This refers to how nomadic people traditionally eat this dish using their hands.
Kazy or qazi refers to a type of horse meat sausage that is popular in parts of Central Asia such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Generally, this sausage is made using meat and fat taken from the ribs of animals. To make it, the horse ribs with the meat still attached are hung to dry for several hours.
Before being put into the intestines of animals that have been cleaned and washed with salt water, the ribs and meat must be completely drained of blood and then seasoned with garlic, salt, and pepper.
Then the sausage is smoked for several hours. It can also be left to dry in a place exposed to wind and direct sunlight for a week.
Before serving, kazy is boiled and then sliced. This sausage can be eaten cold as an appetizer or combined with other Kazakh dishes, such as beshbarmak.
Baursak or boortsog is a dish of fried Kazakh bread. This dish is a Central Asian donut made using flour, eggs, yeast, milk, margarine, sugar, water, salt, and vegetable oil.
This bread is made into a triangle or ball shape and is usually served with tea and enjoyed as a dessert with sugar, butter, or honey.
Although it looks tempting, baursak is not an everyday Kazakh dish. Usually, this food is made for special occasions such as weddings or commemorations of the dead.
According to local stories, the smell of oil and fried baursak drifts to heaven so that your loved ones can enjoy it with you.
On 7 September 2014 Almaty made baursak in such a large number that it entered the Guinness World Records. To celebrate Mother’s Day, as much as 856 kg of baursak was cooked in a competition which was participated by seven mother-in-law/daughter-in-law teams.
Zhal is another dish derived from horse meat. This dish is traditionally made in Kazakhstan. Usually, this food is made from the oblong portion of fat that comes from the underside of the horse’s neck which is salted, dried, and smoked. Generally, a thin layer of flesh attached to the part is also included.
After soaking in cold water, usually zhal is boiled and sliced before consumption. This special slice of meat can be eaten while it is still warm or cold. On it is usually decorated with onion rings.
Kurt is one example of the diet of the nomadic Kazakh people. This dish is in the form of hardened fermented cheese balls. Kurt is one of the fermented milk products that have been made by Central Asian herders since the Middle Ages.
The goal was to create a food source that could withstand multiple seasons while on the move. This snack is made from sour milk from sheep, cows, mares, goats, and camels. The milk is strained into a soft curd and shaped into small balls or flats before being left to harden in the sun.
This process produces a snack with a high calcium content and can be carried anywhere and can last for several seasons and long trips.
Kurt can also be crushed into a stew, soup, or salad. Another option is to dissolve it in a mustache, fermented milk drink, or water to make a salad. Due to its high salt content, Kurt can also be made into a delicious bar chow.
Like other countries, Kazakhstan also has its type of salad called shalgam. This salad is generally made from a combination of grated radishes, bell peppers, carrots, garlic, and onions. This salad is dressed with a combination of white wine vinegar, salt, sugar, oil, and cayenne pepper.
These ingredients are then mixed and added to the sauce and then the salad is served. This dish can be served cold or at room temperature. It is recommended to serve it as an accompaniment to beshbarmak, a traditional Kazakh meat dish.
This ancient Central Asian dish called kuurdak is made using grilled or fried meat or offal, garlic, onions, and potatoes. In Kyrgyzstan, kuurdak is widely consumed throughout the country under different names namely qýyrdaq, qovurdoq, gowurdak, and qordaq.
Kuurdak can be made using different types of meat depending on where it comes from. In Kyrgyzstan, the meat used to make kuurdak is mutton or beef.
But in Kazakh usually, the meat used is lamb offal such as heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs. Usually made immediately after the slaughter of sheep.
If you look at the typical food of Kazakhstan, it is unique because it uses horse meat. In Indonesia, you can find dishes made from horse meat in the Sulawesi area. Influenced by the presence of nomads from Kazakhstan, the country’s dishes are kept simple but durable enough that they can take them with them during their travels.
Indeed, some of these Kazakh specialties may not be suitable for everyone, for example, kazy, but it will be very challenging to try them. So, do you dare to taste it?