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Kazakhstan- Cooking and Food Edit

Overview of Kazakh Cuisine History Edit

Kazakhstan, as an independent republic, only exists starting in 1991, although at its heart lies an old history based on a solid culture with a lot of traditions. The diversity of ethnic groups in Kazakhstan can only lead to diversity where its cuisine is concerned. There are more than 100 ethnic groups practicing over 46 different religious teachings, and influences from the surrounding regions can be sensed. Influences from Russian cuisine as well as central Asian countries’ cuisines have put a mark on the whole of Kazakhstan’s own cuisine.

For a long period of time, people in these regions used to live in tribes and the basic element in their everyday nutrition was horse meat. It is a bit sweeter than Lamb or Beef, and has very pleasant smooth texture, without being too tough or fatty. Even today, horse meat is an essential part of Kazakhstan’s diet, and almost all meat-related dishes include this delicious assortment.

Today the Kazakh are settled in cities and villages, and most of the villages have people working in the open fields. Vegetables grown by themselves on their own lands are also important in their everyday diet.

Cuisines of Kazakhstan Edit

Map of Kazakhstan

Map of Kazakhstan- Click to enlarge

The cuisine of Kazakhstan relies on a variety of traditions that have influenced the culture to its core, including of course the cooking process. Kazakhstan is divided into 14 provinces (oblystar), and so the country's cuisine is divided and influenced by the area where people prepare specific traditional meals. However, no matter the ethnicity, the 'beshbarmak', which is considered the national dish, is prepared almost the same in all regions of the country.

Depending on the region and the influences it has experienced, you will find typical dishes made in a specific traditional way. In the region closer to Russia, you will certainly find pelmenis and blinys to be the most cooked dishes. In areas influenced by Asian cuisine, pilav will be the most common dish available. It basically consists of rice and meat, including all types, from fish to horse meat, which is very frequently used in Kazakh cuisine.

In the east part of the country, spicy salads and Uighur noodles are the main dishes found in the cuisine, even though horse meat is also a great source of cooking recipes. People in Kazakhstan are very friendly and will most defiantly enjoy your company for dinner at their place, with home cooked food and brandy.

Preparation Methods for Kazakh Cooking Edit

Preparation methods of the Kazakhstan cuisine include first of all the preparation of horse meat. You can dry or smoke flakes of meat, or put them to marinate with salt and chili. Either way, horse meat is a great source of food in this cuisine, and people have learned a lot of cooking techniques where it is concerned. There are special preparation methods where special unique dishes are being prepared, like the homemade sausages, and cold snack made of horse meat. There are different variations of the same tradition that uses specific parts of the animal for them, but the amount of condiments and the types of flavors may differ. Also, the sheep is another great source of meat. The fat of the tail is also used in preparation of broths, so people in Kazakhstan have learned ways to deal with every part of the animal that can be prepared and cooked.

The visual attractiveness of the dish is also important, and a balance between colors and proportion differentiates. Each traditional dish has a special cooking method, which is more or less general in all of Kazakhstan’s regions.

Special Equipment for Kazakh Cooking Edit

When you plan on cooking in a Kazakhstan manner, you will be in need of a lot of pots and serving spoons, spatulas, forks, turners, scrapers and tongs. Big pots that can be placed over open fires are specific to this cuisine. Also, baking pots and dishes are very popular in the Kazakhstan cuisine, since a lot of meals are prepared in the oven rather then on a electric fire. In former times the flat cakes, the damdy-nan, were baked in special stoves called tandyrs. Ceramic dishes and plates with floral design are representative for a Kazakhstan cuisine, and there are also wooden spatulas that are frequently used in the cooking process.

Deep serving dishes are required for the traditional Kazakhstan soups and for the special Kuyrdak. You need to consider cover lids and insulated food carriers to keep the temperature of the food constant, if you plan on serving the dishes at their optimized temperature.

Piala is the specific measuring unit in the Kazakhstan cuisine, and is used to measure flour, Sugar and all ingredients needed in the kitchen and in the cooking process.

Kazakh Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

In Kazakhstan, the food cooking process is a bit different from any other process in all cuisines. And that is because of a particular element found in the specific dishes, namely the horse meat. It tastes a bit sweeter than the regular Lamb of beet, but is a very tender kind of meat, and is used to prepare all kinds of dishes. Tradition has made besparmak the national dish, usually prepared at home by people, as a family tradition. Huge chunks of horse meat are boiled on the bone and served with a broth on top of specific doughy noodles.

The national day, celebrated on 16th and on the 17th of December, is a day when a great fest also takes place to add to the celebration. Baked sheep’s or horse’s heads are a commonly seen thing at these celebrations. Whenever a wedding takes place, special dishes like sheep’s liver are eaten by the fathers of the newly weds to bind the promise that will keep the marriage bond intact.

There is also a lot of horse racing festivals, and after the race is over, people get together in big family groups and feast the whole entire day.

Kazakh Food Culture Edit

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In Kazakhstan, a bit apart from other countries, food is usually homemade, prepared by families for their members only. However, Kazakh chefs have a great sense of flavor, and they know the secrets to a delicious recipe. The many recipes and even more methods of preparing special traditional Kazakhstan meals are basically due to the feeling that a chef adds to the cooking process. Combining available ingredients depends on the chef’s personal method, and can result in Kazakhstan dishes that will become even more original and delicious than the already spectacular ones. The Kazakhstan chefs take proud in their cooking skills and methods, and one of their many secrets lies in the variety of ways they can cook the same horse meat. History behind cooking methods and influences has been kept secret from the large majority of people from other cultures. Whether they are cooking besparmak, or preparing sausages at home with their families, Kazakhstan chefs will always do a perfect job.

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