Turkmen Meat Dishes

Turkmen Meat Dishes

Due to Turkmenistan’s long history of cattle husbandry, Turkmen meat dishes play a prominent role in national cuisine. In addition to chicken, Turkmens prefer mutton and do not eat horse meat or pork. Turkmens love to cook with mutton fat and sesame oil, which are used not only for meat dishes but also for dough products and sweets.

The most traditional way to cook meat in Turkmenistan is by frying small pieces of meat in their own grease. The Turkmen call this dish govurma, and it is similar to kavurdak served in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Govurma may be eaten either hot or cold and is also used as a basis for various other dishes, including a soup called gara chorba.

Turkmens also roast meat kebabs called shashlik on hot coals. The national Turkmen kebab is called keyikgzheren kebap and is made from the meat of a young mountain goat. There are also many dishes in Turkmenistan from boiled and stewed meat.

Like the Tajiks, Turkmens often bake meat in a clay oven called a tandyr, yet the Turkmens have their own unique cooking methods. Due to the country’s dry, hot winds, heated sands and high temperatures, Turkmens can dry meat in the wind under the scorching sun to create a jerky called kakmach.

The Tekin tribe of Turkmenistan is known for making a similar product called garyn. To make garyn, mutton is rubbed with salt and spices and stuffed with finely cut pieces of meat and fat. The bowel is then sewn up and buried inside hot sand during the day. In the evening it is tied to a pole until it has completely dried. This process allows the meat to acquire a special, pleasant flavor and a long shelf life.

Other popular Turkmen meat dishes include:


Fatty mutton on the bone is cut into pieces and cooked with onions in a pot of water. When the soup starts to boil, washed chickpeas are added and cooked on low heat. Potatoes, tomatoes and spices are added twenty minutes prior to serving.


Fatty chunks of mutton are fried in fat until brown and crusty. Raw onions, tomatoes, salt, pepper and large chunks of potatoes are added and fried along with the mutton before being stewed in a little water.


Minced mutton, onions and fat are seasoned with salt and pepper before being shaped into small sausages. The sausages are then fried in oil and stewed with onions. Lyulya-kebab is served with fresh chorek bread.


Dried mutton is cut into 10-15 centimeter strips, beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper. The meat is fried in mutton fat and served with french fries or rice.

Steppe Shashlik

Mutton is cut into 10-15 centimeter strips and wrapped around a mixture of chopped onions, garlic, greens, salt and spices. The kebabs are then skewered and fried over hot coals.


Boneless mutton is cut in pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper and fried. Before serving, it is stewed with fried onions and greens.


Chorba is a soup made from fried lamb, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots. After all ingredients have stewed, additional water and seasonings are added and the soup is cooked until the meat is tender. To serve, chorba should be poured over stale flatbread. 


This special Turkmen meat dish is made by boiling meat while fresh bread is baking. The flatbread is cooled, crumbled into tiny pieces and mixed with onions and the chopped meat. The broth is poured over the mixture before serving.


This classic central Asian dish consists of rice, carrots, meat, dried fruit and spices which are cooked together in oil and water. In Turkmenistan it is often prepared with chicken or fish instead of red meat and with apricots instead of raisins.

Besides mutton, white meat such as partridges, hares, chicken and waterfowl are also popular.