Articles on Central Asia: National cuisine
The mention of Central Asian foodways usually conjures up competing images of nomadic and sedentary lifestyles. In one, the roving sheep-herder astride a brawny steed, between base camp and mountain pasture, clutches a leather pouch of fermented milk. The other vision includes the long-beard in his colorful robe and headdress, enjoying perfumed pilaf in a tranquil teahouse. While scholars quibble over cultural and physical boundaries of Central Asia, culinary cultures of the region represent an intriguing mix of steppe and settlement, highlands and lowlands, Turkic and Iranian.
Commonly, it is prepared with lamb, browned in lamb fat or oil, and then stewed with fried onions, garlic and carrots. Chicken plov is rare but found in traditional recipes originating in Bukhara. Plov is usually spiced with whole black cumin, coriander, barberries, red pepper, marigold, and pepper. Heads of garlic and garbanzo beans are buried into the rice during cooking. Sweet variations with dried apricots, cranberries and raisins are prepared on special occasions. The Uzbek-style plov cooking recipes are spread nowadays throughout all post-Soviet countries.
Beshbarmak is the national dish among nomadic Turkic peoples in Central Asia. The term Beshbarmak means "five fingers", because the dish is eaten with one's hands. The boiled meat is finely chopped with knives, mixed with boiled noodles, and spiced with onion sauce. It is usually served in a big round dish. Beshbarmak is usually served with shorpo – mutton broth in bowls called kese. In the Central Asian cuisine this dish is mainly made from the horse meat. However, nowadays people adapted the dish to their own tastes using all other types of meat as well as camel meat, chicken and even fish. They add certain types of spices that originally did not exist in the local cuisine.
Laghman is a very popular traditional Asian (originally Uighur) meal and it is cooked in every home at least few times a week. Laghman is hand made noodle topped with lamb vegetable stew. You may wonder why someone would bother to make noodle from scratch when there is ready pasta and noodle available basically everywhere in the world. The answer is simple, hand made Laghman is far far more delicious. There are multiple variations of this dish.
Samsa is a little pocket with meat and vegetables wrapped in flaky pastry or bread, very similar to Indian samosas. They are most often stuffed with mutton and fat, but are also made with chicken, cheese, cabbage, beef, and even pumpkin. They can be bought in most bazaars or on street corners in larger cities.
Manty are steamed dumplings filled with ground meat and onions. These dumplings popular in most Turkic cuisines, as well as in the Caucasian, Central Asian, Chinese Islamic, and Hejaz cuisines. Nowadays, manti are also consumed throughout Russia and other post-Soviet countries, where the dish spread from the Central Asian republics. The dumplings typically consist of a spiced meat mixture, usually lamb or ground beef in a dough wrapper, and either boiled or steamed. Size and shape vary significantly depending on the geographical location
Dimlama or Dymdama is a stew made with various combinations of meat, potatoes, onions, vegetables, and sometimes fruits. Meat (lamb or sometimes veal or beef) and vegetables are cut into large pieces and placed in layers in a tightly sealed pot to simmer slowly in their own juices. Vegetables for dimlama may include, in addition to potatoes and onions, also carrots, cabbage, eggplants, tomatoes, sweet peppers, spiced with garlic and a variety of herbs and condiments. Dimlama is usually cooked during spring and summer when there is a wide choice of vegetables. It is served on a large plate and eaten with a spoon.
Shashlik is a dish of skewered and grilled cubes of meat popular all over Central Asia. Shashlik (meaning skewered meat) was originally made of lamb. Nowadays it is also made of pork or beef depending on local preferences and religious observances. The skewers are either threaded with meat only, or with alternating pieces of meat, fat, and vegetables, such as bell pepper, onion, mushroom and tomato. While it is not unusual to see shashlik today listed on the menu of restaurants, it is more commonly sold in the form of fast-food by street vendors who roast the skewers over wood, charcoal, or coal. It is also cooked in outdoor environments during social gatherings, similarly to barbecue in English-speaking countries.
Boorsok is a type of fried dough food found in the cuisines of Central Asia. It is shaped into either triangles or sometimes spheres. The dough consists of flour, yeast, milk, eggs, margarine, salt, sugar, and fat. Tajik boorsok is often decorated with a criss-cross pattern by pressing the bottom of a small strainer on the dough before it is fried. Boorsok is often eaten as a dessert, with sugar, butter, or honey. They may be thought of as cookies or biscuits, and since they are fried, they are sometimes compared to doughnuts.
Kuurdak is a traditional meat dish made in Central Asia, especially among t Kygyz and Kazakh. The name comes from a nominalisation of the word "roast", "fried", referring to how the food is made. It is described as "stewed brown meat". Kuurdak is one of the main and oldest dishes in Kyrgyz and Kazakh cuisine. Kuurdak is usually made from mutton, fat and onion, it can be made using beef or any other kind of meat except pork. In Kazakh cuisine kuurdak made from sheep's liver, kidney, heart and lungs.
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