As all Eastern countries, Kyrgyzstan, is famous fir its customs and traditions, especially for hospitality. Our way of life and language are changing during our life, but customs and traditions stay without any changing. These traditions and customs are handing over from elder generation to younger. Kyrgyz were traditionally nomads. This has influenced their food, clothing and traditions. Being nomadic, their national food revolve around the meat whicn was readily available from their herds. We offer the readers the following as glimpse of Kyrgyz food and traditions and hope they will be able to experience the exceptional hospitality of Kyrgyz firsthand during their stay.
Kyrgyz national cuisine has absorbed elements from all of the cultures with which it has come into contact. In Kyrgyzstan you could not really have a tablecloth since the Kyrgyz did not (and in a lot of places still don’t) sit around a table to eat. Instead, they spread a large, white cloth or dastorkhan, on the floor in the center of the yurt or outside on the green grass, and place soft pillows along the edges. People sit cross-legged – Indian fashion. In the figurative meaning dastorkhan is a special dinner or holiday meal, and has specific rituals and traditional dishes. We’ll now discuss some of those traditions and recipes.
Dastorkhan usually begins late in the afternoon or early in the evening, and continues for many hours. New guests are often surprised at the number of meat dishes served. That is traditional and connected with the life of nomads. A shepherd has spent the whole day doing hard physical work, with a chunk of flat bread and some tea for sustenance and only in the evening, when his work is done can he relax and eat his fill. The dishes were usually prepared with meat since it was a staple in the diet of livestock breeders. At a dastorkhan the guest removes his shoes and enters the yurt. There is always a special place set for honoured guests and it is decorated with beautiful hand-made carpets, usually directly opposite the entrance. The host sits near the door. It is his responsibility to offer his guests the best dishes and to be sure that there is always hot tea in their cups. There are usually bowls of mountain honey, melted butter, thick sour cream, fruit and boorsok.
Boorsok – deep-fried pieces of yeast dough and usually served with tea or broth.
Kymyz – is the Kyrgyz traditional beverage made from horse’s milk (mare’s milk). It has been made since ancient times. The Manas Epic mentions it and there are many folk sayings connected with it: Kymyz is a man’s blood and fresh air is his soul. The man who drinks kymyz will live a hundred years. Kymyz contains over two hundred varieties of plants and one litre gives the body several hundred calories of energy. It aids digestion and increases the amount of glycogen in the body. A cup of Kymyz relaxes you and increases your appetite.
Besh-Barmak – is simple to translate. Besh means five, and barmak means fingers. Usually it is made from lamb or horsemeat. The meat is cut into tiny pieces by the host and his relatives, and mixed with hot noodles. Bouillon is then poured over the mixture and the besh-barmak is ready. Kuurdak is made with the intestines of a sheep fried in fat and served with steamed potatoes. Horse intestines are one of the favourite Kyrgyz delicacies – chuchuk, kazy, karta. The other is plov – fried rice with meat and carrots. Manty – steamed meat with vegetables in dough.
Shashlyk – meat roasted on skewers. Shorpo – is hot meat broth with potatoes, meat and onion. Lagman – is a strong spicy ragout with cut pieces of meat, vegetables and spices poured onto long handmade noodles.