National Turkmen cuisine: history, features and descriptions of popular dishes.
It is well known that culinary traditions of various nations develop under the influence of two conditions: historical and geographical. A nomadic lifestyle, severe conditions of living in the desert - all these factors affected Turkmenistan cuisine formation and culinary traditions. One of the main features of the Turkmenistan cuisine is simplicity and affordability in terms of both products choice and cooking methods.
The most popular dish in Turkmenistan is pilav. It is cooked from lamb, carrots, rice and onions. Shurpa is another widespread dish - mutton broth with potatoes and tomatoes.
Turkmen have a special attitude toward bread. Cooking national bread - chorek - there is an art in itself. Tandyr (a clay oven) where chorek is baked is considered the most sacred place in a house and chorek itself has been always honored as a protecting charm.
As any other country in Central Asia, Turkmenistan is unprecedentedly rich in delicious fruits and vegetables. World famous are Turkmen melons with their honey odor which were exported even during pre-Islamic times.
Turkmen national cuisine has a lot in common with cuisines of other Central Asian countries, Uzbek and Karakalpak in particular. However, it differs from them in a number of features. It is mainly distinguished by a variety of fish dishes owing to the country's proximity to the Caspian Sea.
Unlike Uzbeks and Tajiks Turkmen people use much less vegetables. Radish and tomatoes are used more often. Onions is a must. It is eaten raw and used as a seasoning. Pumpkins and carrots are rarely used; mash - even rare.
The used spices slightly differ from the ones used in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Turkmen widely use red and black pepper, mint, wild parsley, azhgon, buzhgun (galls of a pistachio tree). Instead of curcuma Turkmen use saffron and garlic.