Popular dishes in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan- traditional and popular dishes

Beshbarmak - Perhaps the most typical Kyrgyz dish. The dish is meant to be eaten with the hands, not with a knife and fork! - "Besh" means five, and "barmak", finger. Beshbarmak is served when guests arrive and at almost any festive gathering. There is quite a ritual involved in preparing the meal. The simple version of the dish consists of noodles, which are mixed with boiled meat cut into tiny pieces and served with a medium spicy sauce. Bouillon is then poured over the mixture. Generally, a sheep is slaughtered, butchered and boiled in a large “ kazan ” (a large round pot) for a couple of hours. The bones with the meat still on them are then distributed to the assembled gathering. The oldest people and honoured guests are presented with the choicest bones first of all. The guest of honour is presented with the head – and by tradition should have the sheep's eyes. To the “Alksakals” – old men – go the thigh bone (“jambash”) – to the older women goes the fat tail (“kuiruk”). The legs and shoulders are distributed to the young adults present – and the smaller bones are reserved for the daughter in law of the household. Some meat is diced and and mixed with boiled noodles. It is often followed by Ak serke – a broth made from milk mixed with kefir – and is thought to help settle the stomach.

Ashlam-foo – a spicy dish made with cold noodles, jelly, vinegar and eggs.

Chuchpara – a form of meat dumplings – minced meat, onion and spices in dough, boiled in a tasty broth, served hot in bowls and eaten with a spoon. Sour cream can be served as a dressing (see Pelmeni, below).

Blini – (a Russian dish), pancakes, rolled and filled with meat, tvorok (a sort of cottage cheese), or jam.

Jarkop – stewed meat cooked with onions, radish and noodles, placed on boiled pieces of dough.

Kerchoo – meated cooked in a fire like a barbarque.

Korut - small balls of cheese made from sheep milk – they are diluted with water to make a refreshing summer drink, Chalap (although it may be an acquired taste).

Kuiruk Boor – a snack consisting of cooked bacon (actually it's sheep's fat – not pig meat) and liver sprinkled with herbs.

Kuurdak – can be prepared from either mutton or beef. The meat is fried with onion and spices and served on a plate garnished with herbs.

Laghman – (another Uzbek dish) – flat noodles cooked in a stew of tiny pieces of mutton, potatoes, carrots, onions and white radishes. A Russian version, minus the noodles, called Shorpo, can often be found.

Manti – steamed dumplings filled with shredded meat (or sometimes pumpkins), usually eaten with the fingers. A word of warning – watch out for the hot, liquid fat that can come squirting out from them. Also, sometimes the meat can be fatty, or gristle.

Olovo – a dish which is cooked for especially honoured guests consisting of sheep's lungs marinaded in a mix of milk, spices, salt and oil.

Oromo – This is not usually found in restaurants, but you may be served it by a Kyrgyz family. It can be prepared with meat, or as a vegetarian dish. Potatoes, onions and carrots are shredded and spread onto a mat of rolled out pastry, which is then rolled into a roulette and steamed in a special pan called a kazgan (In Kyrgyz “oromo” means “roulette”).

Pelmeni – a form of Russian ravioli which can be served in a bouillon (or broth) or without, and usually smetana (sour cream). The Kyrgyz version is called Chuchpara – and is a soup with dumplings which are filled with onions, meat and fat.

Piroshki – flat dough filled with meat, potatoes, cabbage or sometimes nothing at all – sold by street sellers.

Plov – (really an Uzbek dish) - rice mixed with boiled, or fried meat, onions and carrots (and sometimes other ingredients such as raisins), all cooked in a semi-hemispherical metal bowl called a kazan over a fire.  Plov is a favourite dish in the South and is served to honoured guests – the meal is not considered over until it has been served.

Samsa – (Samsi in the plural) are baked meat dumplings often cooked in a tandoor (clay oven). Once again, be warned of the heat and the fatty juice that squirts out when you bite into one.

Shashlyk – or Kebabs – meat cubes on skewers cooked over the embers of burning twigs. Mutton is the meat usually used, but it is possible to find beef, chicken, liver and even pork shashlyk. The meat may simply be freshly sliced or may have been marinated overnight. Be warned, if the meat is mutton, then almost certainly one of the pieces on the skewer will be pure fat ... the dripping fat onto the burning embers is thought to enhance the taste). Shashlyk is usually served with a sprinkling of raw onion, vinegar and lepyoshki.