Turkmen Cuisine - Holiday Dishes

It is a well known fact that central Asian people consider pilav the King of feasts. It is not absolutely so. Except for pilav Turkmen also cook other celebratory dishes which their ancestors preferred for especially important events. To be on guest of honor at such a feast is a fantastic opportunity. Here are some of these magic dishes ….


This dish has its ancient history. It is probably impossible to cook it in modern city conditions. Shepherds prepare it in the countryside where there is a lot of a saxaul and sand. They cut lamb carcass in large chunks (seven-eight pieces) and marinate it in salt, garlic and paprika. Then they leave it is soak for awhile and kept waiting until the saxaul turns into coals.

Then they remove a thin layer of ashes and put the marinated meat directly onto the heated coals. When all chunks are in place the fire is covered with a big cauldron which in turn is buried in slightly wet sand which is carefully rammed. They wait for about an hour and … remove the cauldron to reveal the goldish juicy chunks of lamb. It is hardly possible to convey in words fragrant smell of the meat cooked on saxaul coals - in fact, saxaul is the only three which emits not an acrid but pleasantly smelling smoke which gives the cooked food a peculiar taste.

"Dzhazhyly bukche"

Sheep kidneys, liver, lungs and heart are carefully washed, cut in strips and fried in tail fat, salted and semi-cooked. Then eggplants, onions, radishes, tomatoes, Bulgarian pepper, potatoes are cut small cubes are put in the cauldron. Last to come are finely chopped garlic and cayennes. While the fragrant mixture cools down there's time to knead the dough.

The stiff fermented dough is rolled out in small 15 cm circles. On a circle the cooled down vegetable-meat mixture is put and little poaches are made. The ready "poaches" are placed into the cauldron with boiling oil and fried until uniform golden crust.

Turkmen Pilav

The best meat for the real pilav is mutton, according to Turkmen. Moderately fat mutton is cut in small pieces. It is fried and a small amount of oil (better cotton one - it provides unique original flavor). When the carefully fried slices of meat acquire appealing gold-brownish tint, chopped onions is put in the cauldron. Then follow chopped thinly cut carrots. When the entire moisture evaporates, onions and carrots are ready. Then slightly too salty hot water poured inside and the entire mixture cooks for another 5 - 10 minutes. After that rice is added. It should be applied evenly to cover the meat completely. After that fire is boosted. When water is completely absorbed by rice the upper layer of rice should be carefully overturned and the entire dish is cooked further under the cover on small fire.

Rice is ready-to-serve when its grains turn yellow and look especially appetizing. The cauldron is removed from the fire and left for another 10 minutes under the cover. The host of the house puts the rice onto the big plate by means of a huge skimmer. On top of it he puts carrots and juicy meat. Traditionally pilav is eaten with hands.


This is the original Turkmen dish. One can hardly try it in the neighboring countries' cuisines and it is actually honored by Turkmen. The dish is very ancient also was considered as an integral part of sacrifices rituals. It is cooked for special events - during religious holidays, rituals. To cook dograma you will only need fresh mutton, onions and bread.

First of all, women bake chorek. The dough is kneaded without yeast. Flatbreads for dograma are even externally different from ordinary daily baked bread. While flatbreads are baked and cooled down mutton is cooked in a big cauldron. Only salt and a few fresh tomatoes are added to the broth. The mutton should be boiled properly to ensure that meat easily separates from bones. The cooked meat is taken out of the broth and left to cool down …

The further process of dograma cooking is a collective creativity of the entire family and invited neighbours. Chorek is manually crumbled in small pieces. The onion is very finely cut and mixed with crumbled chorek. Afterwards this mixture is to be wrapped in gauze and left for a while. Boiled mutton is to be separated in filaments, mixed with chorek and onion crumbs. Fresh bread quickly absorbs be fragrance of meat and onion so even this "dry mix" is very tasty. Ideally the mixture is put into a cup with hot mutton broth and strewn with black pepper. Now the deletions dograma is ready.