National Cuisine Festival

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National Cuisine Festival is held every year in the end of August in Jalal-Abad region. During the festival one can see the cooking process of the traditional meals as well as taste them. Folklore concerts also take place.

Kyrgyzstan is a country where, at the crossroads of the Great Silk Road, the traditional nomadic culture and settled culture united. Therefore, Kyrgyz national cuisine is an amazing combination of meals of various Central Asian nationalities: Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Uighurs, Dungans and other peoples. A distinctive feature of Kyrgyz dishes is that all of them are prepared exclusively from fresh products and are rarely stocked for future use.

It should also be noted that in almost all dishes of Kyrgyz cuisine, the main ingredient is meat: lamb, beef, horse meat and yak meat. This is due to the deep-rooted cattle-breeding traditions of nomadic Kyrgyz people. Dairy products are also widely used. In the southern agricultural regions of the country, in addition to meat, a large amount of fresh vegetables and seasonings are added to the dishes.

Now let us get acquainted with the national meals and beverages. 

Beshbarmak is one of the most beloved and traditional Kyrgyz dishes. Beshbarmak is chopped meat, which is served with homemade noodles, onions and rich meat broth. Since ancient times, beshbarmak has been cooked during big holidays and celebrations and, first of all, was served to honored and respected guests. The dish got its name due to tradition how one eats besh barmak, beshbarmak is traditionally eaten with hands, that is, with all five fingers: in Kyrgyz, “beshbarmak” means “five fingers”. Beshbarmak is mainly popular in the north of Kyrgyzstan, in the Chui, Talas and Naryn regions.

Shorpo is a rich and fatty meat broth that can contain carrots, potatoes, noodles and greens. Shorpo is popular in Kyrgyzstan, but the recipe for its preparation can vary depending on the place. So, for example, in the northern regions of Kyrgyzstan, almost no seasonings are added to the shorpo, and one should cook the meat broth for a long time. In the southern part of the country, by contrast, a large number of aromatic seasonings and ingredients are added to the shorpo. Shorpo is prepared from different types of meat – beef, lamb, horse meat or yak meat. From ancient times it was believed that Shorpo gives a lot of strength.

Kuurdak is fried meat with potatoes, onions and lots of spices. It is quite popular all over the country. They say that  good kuurdak is a kuurdak that contains more meat then potatoes. 

Chuchuk (or kazy, kazy card, etc.) is a Central Asian sausage made of horse meat. A whole piece of horse meat from the costal part of the horse, rich in fat, along with salt and spices is stuffed into the intestine. Chuchuk is used in dried, boiled or smoked form. It is considered to be delicacy.

  • Lepeshkas are Kyrgyz national bread baked in a tandoor with a flat and round shape. Lepeshkas have many varieties. Lepeshkas with various additives have their own names: patyr-nan, tokoch, may-tokoch, etc. Lepeshaks are baked with onions, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.

Boorsoki is the favorite bread for the holidays. It is small pieces of yeast dough fried in oil. Boorsoki are loved for their taste (they can be both salty and sweet).

Pilaf is a traditional Central Asian dish native to the Ferghana Valley and common in southern Kyrgyzstan. The basis of the dish is rice, carrots and meat, first fried and then cooked. There are no strict recipes and rules for the preparation of this dish, every village, city has its own recipe for its preparation. However, pilaf from Uzgen rice, which is cooked in the cities of Uzgen and Osh, is considered to be the most delicious.

Lagman is a home-made boiled noodle seasoned with fried and then stewed vegetables and meat. Lagman has Dungan roots and since ancient times is one of the favorite dishes of national cuisine. Like pilaf, lagman has many varieties: fried boso-lagman, served separately guro-lagman, etc. The ingredients can also vary quite a lot, depending on the season or place of preparation.

Kurut is a sour-milk product, in the form of small dried balls, a kind of Central Asian cheese. The history of kurut goes deep into the nomadic antiquity of the Turkic peoples. Making kurut was one of the few ways to stock up on supplies for the long term. Kuruts are knows for being storeds literally for years. The taste is smoked and sour. Widely distributed throughout Kyrgyzstan.

Kymyz (also koumiss) is a traditional Kyrgyz drink made of fermented mare’s milk. Kymyz is only prepared in the period from May to September, when mares feed their young-ones and can be milked. Kymyz has a tonic effect and, at the same time, is slightly alcoholic. It has a specific taste. In summer, koumiss is sold everywhere, but the best can be found in remote pastures, for example, on Son-Kul.

Maksym is a Kyrgyz national drink made from cereals: barley, millet, wheat and corn. It has a sour taste. The traditional Maxim drink has an exquisite taste and aroma, and also quenches thirst and hunger.

Ayran is a fermented milk product distributed in Central Asia. It is a thick mixture that resembles yogurt to taste.

Chalap is ayran diluted with water to give a more fluid consistency. Also commonly known as tan.

Bozo is a low-alcohol Kyrgyz national drink made from millet and millet with yeast.

Tea and coffee are also very popular. There are more and more coffee houses in the cities where you can enjoy well-prepared coffee. Tea is very common throughout Kyrgyzstan. Green tea is served more often in the south, black tea in the north.

And it does not matter what place you want to visit in Kyrgyzstan, the hospitable Kyrgyz people will always be glad to see you and treat you with dishes the taste of which you will remember for a long time.