Kazakh sweets are an integral part of any holiday celebration in Kazakhstan. Although historically desserts were not a part of Kazakh cuisine, over time the people adopted recipes from their Uzbek and Tajik neighbors and adapted them to their specific tastes.
After a delicious homemade meal it is customary for guests to stay and drink tea. And tea in Kazakhstan is never limited to tea alone, for sweets, nuts and dried fruits are always served with it.
The most popular Kazakh dessert is shak-shak (shek-shek). Pieces of square or cylindrical dough are fried in boiling oil and then mixed with honey to form a sticky mass, which is decorated with raisins and walnuts before serving.
Kustil (brushwood) are crispy cookies which resemble fallen tree branches.
Balkaymak is a stewed cream with honey and flour.
Sumalak, a thick, sweetish dish made from boiled wheat, is a popular sweet in Kazakhstan during Nauryz (Spring New Year).
Maisek (maisok) is a dessert created from tara (fried millet processed by hand) and sugar or honey.
Sholpan are cream-filled cookies which were only introduced into Kazakh cuisine in the 20th century.
Zhent is a dessert made from millet, sugar, crushed cottage cheese, butter and raisins. Zhent is one of several Kazakh sweets which are usually only prepared for holidays or special occasions.
Ezhegey is a Kazakh sweet made with cottage cheese, sugar and fruit.
Baursak is a yeast dough which is formed into small portions and fried. It is not sweet in itself but serves as a dessert when dipped in jam, honey or other sweet condiments.