Traditional Dishes of Kazakh Cuisine
Kazakh national cuisine reflects essence of the nation, its history, culture and traditions. Hospitality has always been a distinctive feature of the Kazakh nation, thus guests are always given a warm reception and the best seat. First he is offered kumys (horse milk), dairy drinks such as shubat (made of camel milk) or ayran (made of cow milk). Then baursaks are served to the tea with milk and cream, these are fried puffy bread/bun, with raisins, iriimshik (local quark product) and kurt (pressed sour cream, dried in different shapes). Then dastarhan (tablecloth) is filled with local bread and refreshments of horse meat and lamb: kazi, sujak, jal, jaya, karta and kabyrga. The most popular Kazakh dish is ‘besbarmak’. It is the main dish of the national cuisine and is translated as ‘five fingers’, and because the dish is eaten with hands. Classic recipe of Besbarmak is usually boiling a broth with several types of meat (horse meat, lamb, beef and camel meat) and rectangle-shaped pasta. Carving the meat at the table is a whole ritual which has a deep meaning. There is a distinct subordination on who gets which piece of meat from the host – pelvic bones and shanks are offered to elderly honored guests, breast part is given to the son or a bride, neck bones - to single females and so on. To carve and distribute the meat of the sheep’s head cooked in a special way is trusted to a high-ranked guest. According to local traditions, meat is passed from the elderly to the children and then to close and far relatives. Traditional first course dish in the Kazakh cuisine is shurpa, a well cooked broth with meat, vegetables and spices. It is usually served in big bowls. During and after the meal kumys and tea are served. Traditionally Kazakh cuisine was based on meat and dairy products. Later the list was enriched with vegetables, fruits, fish, seafood, farinaceous dishes and sweets. Today different representatives living in Kazakhstan are gathered around the dastarhan: Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Uygurs, Dungans, Germans and Koreans. These nations have lived in peace on this land for a long time and certainly influenced on lifestyle, culture and the cuisine of Kazakh people. Thus, the modern Kazakh cookery includes dishes of Uzbek, Uygur, Russian, Tatar and Korean cuisines.
Besbarmak – traditional meal of the Kazakh national cuisine.The name means "five fingers", because this dishis eaten by hands.
The dish is made up of thin slices of soft paste boiled in broth, they are served up on lyagan with boiled beef or mutton (less often, but horsemeat traditionally) and stewed onions and spicy herbs. The dish is added by tea bowl of chorpa, spicy broth.
Bawyrsak – small doughnuts from fermented or unfermented dough fried in large cooking pot. This is universal farinaceous dish that can be served alone or for example, in addition to chorpa. Bawyrsaks dressed with honey syrup are served for tea.
Kumys – sour-milk sparkling, white drink made from horse milk. Kumys’ taste is nice, with slightly acid flavor and sweet. General tonic characteristics and tastiness of this refreshing drink is appreciated not only in Kazakhstan. Kumys is prepared differently depending on ferment and conditions of preparation. Kumys with high concentration of alcohol is quite strong; it intoxicates and brings people into drunken and excited state.
Sometimes it is vice versa, kumys can make people feel relaxed, quiet almost sleepy. Kumys contains antibacterial substance generated by microorganisms during the process of fermentation that provides this drink with antibacterial characteristics, feed value, and capacity to stimulate biological processes in human body. Regular use of kumys stimulates appetite, digestion and fixation, weight gain.
Ayran – a type of sour-milk drink on the basis of katyk, kefir, that is widespread among Turkic, North and South Caucasian, Balkan nations. In different regions and among various nations the name of ayran and the technology of processing it have some differences. The common thing is that this milk drink is prepared using lactic-fermentation bacteria.
Ayran of settled peoples is liquid well allays thirst, and ayran of nomads is thick that simplifies its storage and transportation. In order to allay thirst ayran is diluted with water, milk or kumys.
Shubat – traditional summer sour-milk drink of Kazakhs made from camel milk. The drink is useful against such diseases as asthma, tuberculosis, hepatitis, diabetes and psoriasis.
The process of shubat preparations is simple. Fresh camel milk is poured into wooden container after having added ferment, covered and left to sour. Shubat is stirred up before bringing to the table.
Kurt– dry product made of yoghurt cheese with specific brackish-acid taste. With its origin the kurt owe to nomads who needed substantial and useful food with extended storage. Today kurt is also used as an easy-to-store source rich in calcium.