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Meat for Beshbarmak

by Louis

Question:

Hi,

I'm a tourist currently living in Aktau, Kazakhstan, and I was wondering if you could tell me about the nations traditional dish, Beshbarmak?

What kind of meats are most commonly used, I have been told horse, but when I tried it in a Kazakh Bar and I couldn't tell what the meat was - however it was delicious!

We were told it would be served with bread. However, we've been served pasta along with the meat.

And could you also tell me what kind of traditions come with the serving of Beshbarmak? Your help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

________________________________________________

Hi,

Glad you are interested in Kazakh food and liked Beshbarmak.

If you tasted it in a Kazakh Bar, then I am pretty sure you tasted the horse meat. Since some people don't eat horse meat for one reason or the other, they could also have used mutton or beef. Though I assume you would have noticed the difference. Horse meat, to me, tastes sweeter and it's darker in color. Its fat melts as soon as you touch it or out in your mouth, while the fat in beef or mutton hardens quite quickly.

Some people call the pasta used in beshbarmak as "naan", which means bread in kazakh and many other turkic languages. It's best handmade for beshbarmak, however if I don't feel like making it by hand, I use lasagne sheets. They don't taste like real beshbarmak pasta, but they do the job when you don't have much time.

Sometimes if it's an important event or a host has many people to serve or even if the family feels like feasting, Beshbarmak can be made by following the traditions.

A whole sheep will be cut and cooked. Its head will be cut into parts by the oldest person at the table. As well as other parts of it, the sheep will be distributed among the other guests. Depending on the age and other criterion, people may get eyes, ears, kidneys etc.

Some people serve the stock in which the pasta has been cooked after you've eaten the meat and pasta. In some parts of Kazakhstan they serve rice instead of pasta. In the west where you are now, it's possible to get beshbarmak from sturgeon.

You can read the recipe for it on my Simple Beshbarmak Recipe page if you like. If you ever decide to make it yourself, you can also share your experiments on my website.

Hope this helps.

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