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.