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Festive beshbarmak served with kazy sausage

Beshbarmak (Kyrgyz: бешбармак, Russian: бешбармак, Bashkir: бишбармаҡ, Tatar: бишбармак — "five finger") is the national dish among nomadic Turkic peoples in Central Asia and Russia. It is also known as naryn in Xinjiang, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, as turama or dograma in Karakalpakstan, North Caucasus and Turkmenistan, and as kullama in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan.

The term beshbarmak means "five fingers", because nomads used to eat this dish with their hands. The boiled meat is finely chopped with knives, mixed with boiled noodles, and spiced with onion sauce. It is usually served in a big round dish. Beshbarmak is usually served with shorpomutton broth in bowls called kese. Typically, shorpo is served as a first course that is followed by courses of beshbarmak and a drink called ak-serke (shorpo spiced with kymyz or ayran).

Historical background

The cuisine of Central Asia developed within the constraints of a nomadic life, when people were completely reliant on their animals which is reflected in their food, which is rich in meat and dairy products.

The serving ritual

The serving of beshbarmak is steeped in ritual with different sections of the meat proportioned to people depending on their gender, age and rank in the social structure. The oldest are always presented the first bones of the sheep, an elderly man given the thigh bone (jambash). The younger adults often receive the bones of the arms legs and shoulders. On special occasions, a lamb's head may be served on the table. It is served to the most respected person, and he cuts off pieces from her and treats others with various desires. Festive beshbarmak can be cooked together with kazy/chuchuk.

Making Beshbarmak

No special equipment is needed to make beshbarmak. The classic variant of the dish, which is now prepared basically in the northern Kyrgyzstan, especially in the Naryn region, requires a good sharp knife maki (Kyrgyz: маки) – as all the ingredients are thinly cut before it is put on the dastarkhan. A pot to boil the meat and noodles in is required, as well as a rolling pin to prepare the pasta.

Initially meat is boiled. In the original version of beshbarmak you should ideally use a piece of hind quarters (rump) of a horse, kazy or chuchuk (horse meat products), rack of lamb. It may change with the seasons. In warm seasons, beshbarmak is usually cooked using meat lamb.

At the same time dough is made from flour, water, eggs add salt and let it sit for 40 minutes. After that the pastry is rolled out, making it very thin, and cut into noodles.

The noodles are boiled in meat-broth for 5 minutes. The boiled noodles and finely chopped meat are placed on a tray (tabak) and sauce (called chyk or tuzdyk, made of onion, ground black pepper and hot meat-broth) is poured. Then everything is thoroughly mixed. Finely chopped meat in beshbarmak is a sign of respect for elders and guests.

Presentation is also important. The dish is served on big platter. Hospitality is serious business in Central Asia. Ordinarily, being invited for beshbarmak is an honor. Guests are never invited to sit at an empty table, but beshbarmak is always presented after all the guests have been assembled. It is still a dish that carries with it nomadic identity, and not one to be taken lightly.

External links

  • Besh barmak
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