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Kyrgyz Food: 8 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz Food: 8 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous, landlocked country located in Central Asia surrounded by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. The country is best known for being home to more than 85 different mountain ranges, which in all cover over 70% of the geographic territory. Kyrgyzstan is often referred as the “Switzerland of Central Asia”.

The population of Kyrgyzstan is composed of different ethnicities, including Kyrgyz (who make up 73.8% of the population). Other ethnic groups include Russians (5.1%), Uzbeks (14.8%), Dungans (1.1%), Uyghurs (0.9%), Tajiks (0.9%), Kazakhs (0.6%), Ukrainians (0.1%) and a few other smaller ethnic groups. Kyrgyz cuisine definitely mirrors the country’s diversity, consisting of thousands of unique dishes to try.

Most Popular Kyrgyz Dishes

Kyrgyz cuisine is influenced by the types of dishes enjoyed by its neighbouring countries. The preparation, procedures and main ingredients have also been heavily influenced by Kyrgyzstan’s historically nomadic way of life.

The country’s traditional dishes mostly revolve around meats of mutton, beef and horse meat. Various dairy products also play a major role. Mutton and beef are considered to be most the popular meats but these days many people are unable to afford them frequently.

The people of Kyrgyzstan also regularly eat traditional dishes of Uyghur, Dungan, Uzbek and Turkish cultures. So without further ado, here are the absolute must-try, traditional dishes of Kyrgyzstan along with recipes for you to try for yourself.

Besh Barmak

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Besh barmak is a dish prepared using meat (lamb or beef), handmade noodles and minced onions. It is generally considered to be a main dish for the country’s nomadic tribes.

The term besh barmak literally means “five fingers,” referring to the fact that it was consumed using bare hands with no usage of spoons or chopsticks. Nomadic people didn’t carry such implements with them, as it would be too heavy during long voyages.

Also considered to be one of the main national dishes of Kazakhstan, besh barmak is traditionally consumed on large shared platters, where several people can be seen sharing one platter.

Shorpo

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Shorpo is a popular Kyrgyz soup prepared using meat (usually lamb or beef), vegetables and spices. Generally served hot, this soup is topped off with green onions. Herbs and spices may differ depending on the region, but the common ingredients that are typically added include parsley, dill, cilantro and red pepper.

Generally consumed as a main dish, shorpo is considered to be a perfect combination of nutrition and flavour. The people of Kyrgyzstan also occasionally add potatoes and sliced noodles.

Chiuchiuk

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Chiuchiuk, also known as qazy, is a sausage prepared using horse meat and intestines. The preparation begins by cleaning the horse intestines, then the horse rib meat is filled into the intestines, tied and allowed to cook in boiled water.

While the sausage is cooking the intestine is picked once or twice with a toothpick in order to help get the air out. It is frequently served cold, occasionally sliced and consumed as an appetizer.

Apart from the Kyrgyz, the Kazakh, Tatars, Uzbeks and other Turkic or Central Asian ethnic groups also enjoy eating chiuchiuk. This extremely nutritious side dish is loved by Kyrgyz families and is typically prepared for special events and celebrations.

Oromo 

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Oromo is a steamed pie that is prepared using minced meat, onions and dough. The delicacy is commonly prepared as an everyday dish by many families, although it can also easily be found in several restaurants and cafes throughout the country.

Oromo also has a vegetarian version of it that includes ingredients like minced potatoes, pumpkins, or even Allium tuberosum (a leafy green plant grown in almost every region of Central Asia).

Kuurdak

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Kuurdak is a dish prepared using meat (either sheep, beef or occasionally horse meat) with added onions, salt and spices. This easy-to-make meat dish is considered to be one of the main and oldest dishes in the country’s cuisine.

The name of the dish derives from a nominalisation of the terms “roast” and “fried”, referring to the way it is prepared. It is also referred to as “stewed brown meat”. Generally served as a main or side dish, one can easily find this delicacy throughout Central Asia.

Tash Kordo

Tash Kordo is a meat dish prepared using a small lamb, salt, pepper and garlic. It is normally consumed by Kyrgyz nomads. Generally eaten as a main dish, it is considered to be unique as its preparation requires no bowl or pan whatsoever. The semantic translation of the dish’s name is “stone food.” It is believed that it was the Kyrgyz hunters who first created this type of meal.

The meat is first seasoned with spices and then set aside to marinade for about two to three hours. Meanwhile, the stones are allowed to heat up in a hole. Later, the seasoned meat is hung over the pit and enclosed with curved branches or dense cloth.

Plov

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Plov is a rice dish that is most commonly associated with Uzbekistan. Its preparation varies from area to area; some people prepare it using white rice, while some use brown Uzbek rice. However, apart from rice, other main ingredients that are used include lamb, onions, and carrots.

Plov is generally served as a main dish. Widely consumed in Kyrgyzstan, this dish is thoroughly enjoyed all over Central Asia.

Lagman

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Lagman is a Kyrgyz dish generally prepared using turnips, noodles, meat, fresh vegetables and several spices that people add depending on their own preferences. One can find many different versions of lagman served in restaurants, including a fried version or a soup version.

This delicacy was introduced to Kyrgyzstan by the Dungan people. Today it is considered to be one of the main dishes served in country’s restaurants as well as made in homes by hundreds of families.

As well as from Kyrgyzstan, lagman can also be seen being enjoyed in many other countries. Some of them include Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, north-eastern Afghanistan and some areas of northern Pakistan.

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