Turkmen Poultry Dishes

The Trans-Caspian Turkmen are distinguished from their Central Asian neighbors by their love for white meat, particularly waterfowl. Among Turkmen poultry dishes, a stewed stuffed poultry called yshtykma is particularly delightful.

To prepare this special Turkmenistan recipe, a bird is plucked, singed, wiped dry and rubbed with salt on the inside. A stuffing of onions, dried apricots, raisins, lemon juice, garlic, pepper, cumin and other spices is fried in sesame oil and juices and left to cool. The carcass is then stuffed before being sewn up and fried in sesame oil. After 10-15 minutes, 1.5 cups of boiled water is added to the pot and the dish is stewed on low heat. Spices are added to the resulting juice, which is regularly poured over the bird. The meat must be regularly turned as it stews, and only when the water has evaporated is the bird taken out.

A glass of rice (presoaked in boiled water for 40 minutes) is then added to the pot, along with oil and the juices from the freshly cooked yshtykma. Another glass of boiled water is added and the rice is covered and cooked without stirring. Once cooked, the rice is salted and colored with saffron. The bird is then placed upside down into a pit made in the rice and cooked on  low for another 10 minutes before being left to sit, covered, for another 10 minutes.

When serving, the bird is cut into chunks and the rice and stuffing are dished up separately. Yshtykma and other Turkmen poultry dishes can be ordered at many local restaurants.