Tajik Cuisine - Meat Dishes

Meat dishes are basically cooked from mutton and goat's flesh. Since Tajiks are Moslems they do not eat pork at all. Very popular is horse meat. It is used for cooking sausage called «kazy». Before cooking the meat is always preliminary fried until brown crust. Only this way the dish acquires its unique aroma. Meat dishes are mostly used as main courses: shish kebabs, kabob, golubtsi, roast meat, poultry and game.

Shish Kebabs ARE delicious in the Tajik cuisine. There are some versions of them: from chopped meat, from chunks of meat, even from vegetables. They are cooked more often from mutton, but beef is also used. Tail fat is a must.

Here is how classical Tajik shish kebab is cooked.

Mutton flesh and tail fat are cut in pieces, marinated in onions, spices and lemon juice. Meat is left for 2 or 3 hours in a cool place. Then it is put on skewers (pieces of meat alternate with tail fat slices) and fried over heated coals. Separately on skewers are baked ripe tomatoes. A ready shish kebab is to be sprinkle with lemon juice and served together with baked tomatoes.

Kabobs are a specific Tajik dish. It is cooked from ground meat (mutton). Tender mutton is minced together with onion with addition of spices, salt, and pepper. The resulting mass is used to form sausages. Then they are floured and fried in fat until crust. Onions rings are browned. Semi cooked kabobs are put into the onions with some meat broth and stew until ready. Served with greens and garlic.
Roasted meat in Tajik cuisine is called «kaurdak». It is cooked slightly differently.

Fatty mutton is cut with little bones, and then fried with addition of fresh tomatoes; after water is added it is stewed with potatoes; finally browned roots and onions, salt, pepper are added and stewed on small fire.

Shakhlet - Tajik golubtsi: beef meat crushed on meat grinder is fried with onions and mixed with boiled rice; forcemeat is wrapped in internal fat; golubtsi are fastened with a thread and boiled in broth. Serve with sour cream sauce.

Pilaus occupy a very special place in Tajik culture.

Five pilau recipes are most known: Tajik pilau, pilau with meat balls (“gelak palov”), Dushanbe pilau (minced mutton flesh), pilau with chicken, pilau with pounded noodles (pilau “ugro”). Quince, peas, dried fruits, garlic are added to pilaus.

House Tajik pilau is called ugro-pilau. Meat is cut into pieces, fried with onions and carrots cut in straws; with addition of broth it is to be semi cooked. Noodles made from unleavened dough are roasted in oven until golden-yellow, cooled down and pounded till the size of rice grains, washed with cold water, put into the fried meat and cooked until ready. Served with green onions.

Besides pilaus porridges with meat are very popular too. For example, osh-tuglama. Whole carrots are boiled bodily with a big chunk of mutton; raw carrots are fried in tail fat to be semi-cooked in a pot with onions and straw-cut carrots; then broth is added. After that they put in some rice, cover the pot and cook until ready. Boiled meat and carrots are straw cut and added to rice when the dish is served, finally it is sprinkled with chopped green onions. Yummy!

Be prepared to experience a lot of onions, spices, greens, sour milk (katyk) in Tajik cuisine. Chopped spices are widely applied: red pepper, zira, barberry, anise, saffron etc. Spicy greens (coriander, fennel, parsley, mint, raikhon, green onions, sorrel, etc.) are added to salads, the first and second dishes as well as to sour milk (airan) which is used for meat dishes seasoning.