Every nation carefully keeps and develops all the
best from native culture it got from the ancestors: songs and fairy tails, legends
and secrets of various crafts, and of course the traditions of national cuisine.
Placed along the Great Silk Road on the historic
crossroads of trade and cultural exchanges between China, Iran, India and the
Arabian Sea, Kyrgyzstan has become home for more than 80 nationalities and ethnic
communities. Kyrgyz cuisine has absorbed all the best from these cultures and
at the same time preserved its originality and national peculiarity. Many of
the Kyrgyz dishes are very popular amongst different nationalities of Kyrgyzstan.
Image yourself traveling by the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
Around you the abundance of wild life, snow capped peaks, mountain rivers and
green meadows with flocks of sheep, herds of horses and Nomads yurts. Go to
any of these Yurts, where nobody will wander who are you and what is for you
have arrived, the guests are more then welcome to Yurta and will be met with
the same very touchful hospitality. Come in and take the best honorable
seat are the first words the one can hear from the Nomads.
At the ancient times the food for the guests of
Kyrgyz governors and khans was served on the golden and silver dishes. Delicious
and melting-in-the mouth meat of lamb and foal, Kazy-Karta - national dishes
prepared from horse intestines and stomach, astringent Kumys - national beverage
made of fermented mares milk, chagyrmak - vodka made of Kumys and other delicacies
adorn the tables of nomadic noble people. Many years have passed since that
time, people and their lifestyle have changed but the lows of hospitality, traditions
and customs keep unchanged till present time.
On the low, round table the nomads put dastorkon
- a white table-cloth. Refreshments start with tea. On the table there are-
lepeshki - round bread, boorsok - traditional bread, kattama - national fried
layered bread of refined starch, butter, kaimak- the sour cream, fresh and dried
fruits, sweets. Following the tea comes Kumys and a number of various appetizers.
Amongst them Choochook - the sausage made of specially cooked horse fat and
a lot of baked, fried and boiled meat dishes.
Then the guests served with Beshbarmak (five fingers)
- traditional Kyrgyz delicacy prepared from fresh meat of young lamb. Lets say
beshbarmak is the complex of different dishes. For the first comes Jash-Shorpo
- a broth spiced with mountain onion, Then Kuiruk-Boor - sliced liver and sheep
fat with special sauce and Kabyrga - ribs with meat and fat. After this the
guests get the Ustukan - the different parts of sheep carcass. Each ustukan
has its own meaning and distributed to different guests depending on their age
and level of honor. Finally the Beshbarmak itself serves on the big dish- chopped
meat mixed with noodles and spiced with onion sauce. After all the tea or other
beverages are served again.
All the national dished might be separated into
several brunches: everyday dishes, holiday dishes and ritual or rite dishes.
Everyday dishes are Kesme - noodle soup with potatoes and meat, Shorpo - hot,
rich meat broth with potatoes, peas and carrots. It is served in individual
bowls and eaten with a spoon while large chunks of meat on the bones can be
eaten with hands, Kulchetai - noodle soup with meat. Lagman -rich spicy stew
with chopped meat, vegetables and spices, poured over long hand-made noodles.
The noodles can be eaten with a fork and the gravy with a spoon. Lagman is served
in individual bowls. Chuchvara - meat dumplings - minced meat, onion and spices
in dough. It is boiled in a tasty broth, served hot in bowls and eaten with
a spoon. Sour cream can be served as a dressing. Holiday dishes are Beshbarmak,
Plov -cooked meat, rice, onion, garlic and spices. Plov is always served hot,
Manty - meat, onion and chopped fat of lamb's tail covered in dough and steamed.
Manty are served on individual plates (3-5 pieces) and dressed with sour cream.
Shashlyk -marinated pieces of mutton threaded on metal skewer and cooked over
hot coals. Always served hot with chopped onion. Samsa -pastry with meat, onion
and the fat of lamb's tail cooked in a special clay oven called tandyr. Samsa
is served straight from the tandyr and eaten with hands.
The ritual or rite dishes make up a separate special
group. The customs and rituals follow the one, from the birthday till the last
day of the life. These dishes are divided into four different groups. The first
group are the dishes timed to different period of childs life: Jentek
Toi - celebrates on the childs birthday, Kyrkan Chygaruu- is the holiday
celebrated on the 40th day after birthday, beshik Toi - celebrates by the first
time the child is being put in the cradle and Tushoo-Kyrkuu -1 year celebrity.
Another group associated with wedding: Kelin-Keryuu-
a bride show, Otko-Kirgizyuu- is an entertainment organized by the relatives
and based on invitation the newly-weds to their houses, Terkule - a girl first
visit to her parents home after wedding.
The third group is timed with burial: Kara-Ash
- memorial make mention at the day of death, Uchulyuk - make mention on the
3rd day after death. Jetilic - make mention on the 7th day, Kyrky - make mention
on the 40th day and Ash - 1 year make mention. The 4th group and the last, concerns
the customs and rites what can be met in everyday life. Erlyuk - house-warming,
Ajyrash-Ayak - associated with moving to another place of living, Sherne - an
entertainment arranged by friends and relatives in succession.
In most cases meat is obligated product in Kyrgyz
dishes. Besides food there are also a number of national beverages: Kumys -
fermented mares milk, Airan - cold drink from yogurt and sour in taste.
Jarma or maxym - cold summer drink, made from water and dry wheat, a little
salt and boiled, it has a special technology being very ancient. At the ancient
times to make the drinks more heady, the nomads added honey, sugar, roots of
aconite, black tea infusion, buckthorn and barberry.
Some of the rite dishes were cooked for seasonal
and calendar events. Although these dishes are of great interest, unfortunately,
many of them are being forgotten, have fallen into disuse and thus have turned
to archaic types of the food. Some dishes which formerly had rite contents,
have lost their initial meaning and progressively turning to holiday or everyday
One of the most essential feathers of Kyrgyz cuisine
is that it prefers the dishes which preserve the taste and appearance. For instance
there are no dishes comprising puree, minced or chopped meat, except for some
exceptions. All the dishes have a plain taste; sauces and spices are used in
small doses and not intended to change the dish taste.
The traditions of hospitality of Kyrgyz people created
through the centuries are something without which would be lost the originality
of people and its cuisine.