Tajik Soups

Tajik Soups, Traditional Tajik Food

Tajik soups are a more recent addition to Tajik national cuisine yet still a central part of the culture today. Tajiks are very fond of their soups and say that it should be eaten at least once a day in order to improve the digestive system.

Soups in Tajikistan are almost always thick and rich. The main ingredients are usually first fried in oil or fat, and nearly all local soups are flavored with spices and herbs.

Shurbo (shurpa, shurpo) is the general term for a Tajik soup recipe consisting of meat, onions and broth. In order to distinguish the many soups from one another, they have been given variants of the same name. For example, serka shurbo is a lamb soup, murgi shurbo is made from chicken, shalgam shurbo is made from meat with turnips, and kadu shurbo is made with meat and pumpkin. The most unusual variety is hom-shurbo (hom-shurpa), which is made with meat, chickpeas and vegetables.

Laghman in Tajikistan is a soup made from meat, thick noodles and diced vegetables which is usually served as a first course. (In neighboring countries there are many laghman recipes without broth).

Kalapocha is a soup made from the head, heart, kidneys and entrails of a ram or cow. Other soups made from animal intestines include kashk, dalda, dangicha and gandumoba, the latter of which is distinguished by the addition of chopped wheat, chickpeas and beans. Considered a festive dish, gandumoba is often served at weddings.

Mastoba (mastova) is one of several Tajik lamp soups. After the lamb has been fried with onions, tomatoes and carrots, rice and potatoes are added and all is covered with water. Mastoba contains many spices and is usually served with katyk (kefir).

Siyokhalaf (“black grass”) is a soup made from a mountain herb of the same name which resembles a leek. Due to its high iodine content, the soup acquires a light purple color and is also very healthy. To prepare siyokhalaf, the washed rice and grass just needs to be boiled. It is customary to add chakka (sour milk) to the finished soup.

Naryn is a soup made from boiled horse meat and dough. The ingredients are prepared separately and just before serving, the dough, meat and onions are placed in a large bowl and the broth poured on top.

Lubiyova is a sweetish soup made from red beans, wheat, meat and beets. Since this dish takes a very long time to cook on the stove, it is usually placed in a degdona (national oven), covered in ash and left to cook overnight.

Mosh-birinch (mosh-gurunch) is made with meat, mung beans and rice.

Ugro is a noodle soup with lamb or beef. The meat, onions and carrots are covered in water and brought to a boil. Pre-soaked chickpeas and potatoes are then added while thin noodles called ugro are prepared and boiled separately. To serve, the noodles are first covered in broth before the meat, chakka (sour milk) and herbs are added.

Manpar (mampar) is one of the most popular Tajik soups with visitors. To make manpar, doughy dumplings are boiled separately while meat, radishes, onions and tomatoes are fried in a pot and covered with water. The dumplings are added to the soup just before serving.