5 must-try dishes when you are in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan offers more than just a visual feast with its head-turning skyscrapers and natural wonders. Its unique foods are also a big treat, if you are adventurous enough to give them a try. Check out these five popular dishes the country has to offer.

  1. Beshbarmak

The national dish of Kazakhstan, beshbarmak literally translates to five fingers, as nomads used to eat it with their hands. The dish is usually made with finely chopped pieces of boiled horse meat mixed with flat, wide noodles and onion gravy. The noodles are typically served with a mutton broth called shorpo, which is often served before the noodles.

  1. Shashlik

Meat lovers, rejoice. Shashlik, a common dish served throughout Central Asia, consists of meat cubes grilled over an open fire or coal. The meat is skewered onto sticks with some vegetables. You can find this dish almost anywhere in Kazakhstan.

  1. Kumis

This traditional beverage of mare’s milk is for visitors with a strong stomach. The milk goes through a rigorous fermentation process that removes all of its lactose and gives it a fizzy and sour taste. The process also results in the drink having a higher alcohol content than kefir, a fermented drink usually made of cow or goat’s milk. Served at most restaurants, locals believe the milk provides not just energy and nutrition but also health benefits, as the nomads have long used it to treat various ills, including stomach diseases. It is also touted as an excellent remedy for a hangover!

  1. Shubat

After sampling kumis, perhaps you would like a taste of another favourite local drink – shubat. The fermented camel’s milk is one of the most common cultured dairy product in Central Asia. Shubat is widely sold in supermarkets in Kazakhstan. You can also find homemade versions in some restaurants, which are milder and less fizzy and acidic than those sold in stores. As with kumis, the locals believe shubat is rich in vitamins and offers a slew of health benefits as well.

  1. Kazy

You should have figured by now that horses play a prominent role in Kazakhstan’s food culture. Kazy is a sausage made of the meat and fat from the ribs of horses. It is then seasoned with garlic, pepper and salt before it is stuffed into a natural intestinal casing. The sausages are typically sold raw or smoked, and are boiled and sliced before they are served.

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