Kazakhstan has been able to hold up its culture through its cookery. The tradition of Kazakh food has partly come from the Turkic (an ethnic group) influence. The local delicacies are based on horse meat and mutton, and as the natives were mainly nomads, they have reflected that in their ways of eating too. They mainly focus on stale foods so that it would suit their nomadic way of life, explaining their soft corner for the taste of sour milk. Here are some of the favorite food items of Kazakhstan.
1. Beshbarmak – The National Food of Kazakhstan
What is it: It is basically a combination of boiled meat and pasta, mainly using horse meat, lamb or beef. The name means “five fingers” because it has to be eaten with hands, without the use of any cutlery. This preparation is alternatively known as Naryn. Usually, members from the same family together consume the preparation from one platter by sitting on the floor.
What does it taste like: This not-to-spicy dish is an assortment of meat and different boiled vegetables like onions and potatoes. It is commonly served with a meat and vegetable soup item, Shorpo.
2. Shubat – One of the Best Dairy Food Items
What is it: The sparkingly white preparation is actually fermented camel’s milk, believed to have amazing health benefits. Also known as Chal, this is an authentic and exclusive Kazakh item that is widely available throughout the country. Considered a staple, this is mostly consumed during summer days.
What does it taste like: Not as creamy as cow milk, but it has a sour taste.
What is it: Kumis is traditionally prepared by fermenting mare’s milk but commercially available Kumis might be made of cow milk as mare milk is not so common to have. If you are in Kazakhstan, you must not return without trying this drink.
What does it taste like: Due to the fermentation, it naturally contains alcohol deriving from the sugar. So the taste is sour, almost like wine but not exactly.
4. Kuurdak – Holding Up the Tradition Since Ages
What is it: This traditional dish, known as ‘brown and stewed meat’, is made from mutton fat and onion but it can also be prepared by using beef or any other meat. Concocted by boiling the liver, heart, and kidneys of cows, horse or sheep, this is one of the oldest preparations of the country. Kuurdak is alternatively pronounced as Gowurdak, Qordac, and Kyurdak.
What does it taste like: Made with onion and pepper, Kyurdak will have a definite spicy flavor. Typically served hot, it goes best with Shirin Palo that is a rice-based item. In the traditional preparation of Kuurdak, you will get a roasted flavor.
5. Baursaki – The Quintessential Kazakhstan Vegetarian Food
What is it: Baursaki, Boortsog or Bawïrsaq, a golden-brown fried dough is considered a dessert. Either triangular or spherical in shape, it is cooked on special occasions like weddings or memorials. Tajik Baursaki, a variation, has a crisscross pattern on it.
What does it taste like: It actually has no taste of its own. However, it is traditionally consumed by adding some butter, honey, and jam. The sweet Baursaki is called Yespe Baursak.
6. Kazy – The Prominent Delicacy of the Country
What is it: Kazy or Qazi is Kazakh horse sausage. It is made of meat and fat found in horse ribs. The unique process of making the dish includes stuffing the horse intestine with its meat. The is a common dish on the Dastarkhan or the table set for festive meals.
What does it taste like: This is spicy and smoky, and you will get the taste of garlic, pepper, and salt. This succulent preparation is often served cold with seasonal crops.
7. Manti – The Delicious Dumpling of Kazakhstan
What is it: These dumplings, either steamed or boiled, are made with ground lamb and served with sour cream. Beef or horse meat can also be used as the stuffing for Manti. Depending on the countries, the size of the dumplings differs. One of the variations, known as Kayseri Mantisi, is smaller in size. Restaurants in Almaty are famous for serving mouth-watering Manti.
What does it taste like: This is mildly spicy and a great option for a quick snack. Traditionally the dumpling is served with some hot red pepper powder sprinkled on it.
8. Samsa – The Much-coveted Kazakh Street Food
What is it: Samsa is a triangular baked pastry filled with minced lamb. It is one of the long-established delicacies of Kazakhstan and while other countries might have the fried version of Samsa, in Kazakhstan, it is only the baked one you will come across.
What does it taste like: It is crispy on the outside and soft and crunchy on the inside with a prominent spicy taste. Variation regarding the filling includes chicken, minced beef, cheese, even pumpkins, and potatoes.
9. Nauryz Kozhe – The Popular Festive Food
What is it: The soup is made out of barley, salt, water, milk, and kefir or fermented milk. It is the must-have food of Kazakhstan, especially during the celebration of New Year.
What does it taste like: Preferably served cold, this has a thick texture and is neither spicy nor sweet.
10. Kurt – The Salty and Cheesy Dessert
What is it: Being rich in protein, this is made out of salty cheese. It was used as a substitute for milk by the shepherds in the historical past.
What does it taste like: It tastes salty, being mainly consumed as a snack item.
If you are planning on visiting this idyllic place anytime in the future, you may try out all these delicacies of Kazakhstan. You will not find many vegetarian food items, but meat-based foods are plenty.