Kazakh Tradition Dishes
The mode of life of people, traditional craft, interrelations, customs and traditions are,
perhaps, well comprehended through traditional dishes.
In the Kazakh national cooking as in a mirror found reflections the people's nature,
its history, customs and traditions.
The table manners of nomads, filled with so many customs, rituals, special behaviour
find its place in our time.
The whole clan and tribe shared the joys and sorrows of life, any unexpected traveller was an
Any steppe inhabitant knew, that he was a welcome guest and had a right to his share.
This steppe tradition was strictly observed and is still observed today by the host of any house.
A violation of this tradition was regarded as an insult to the honour and dignity of the guest
and shame to the host. Some time later this violation merited a sort of punishment.
That explains why every host regarded the ritual of hospitality as sacred rule and welcomed
guests warmly and with all attention and kindly saw them off with good wishes.
In the first instance the guest was treated to kumys, shubat or airan, then to
tea with milk or cream, baursaks, raisins, irimshik, kurt. Then followed appetizers made
of horseflesh or mutton - kazy, shuzhuk, zhal, zhaya, sur-yet, karta, kabyrga.
Flat cakes made of flour were sewed without fail.
The main traditional dish of Kazakhs is besbarmak.
It is mostly served for the guests and eaten by hands (bes barmak-means five fingers).
Besbarmak is usually cooked of fat mutton and parts of smoked horse meat and horse
delicacies like kazy and shyzhyk.
The meat is boiled and separately is boiled thin paste. Boiled parts of meat are put on
the paste and spiced with a special flavoring called tuzdyk. As the custom demands the host
serves the meal in special crockery - tabak. The bas-tabak, which is placed before the most
honourable guests is used to serve the mutton head, zhambas, horse meat delicacy and other
fatty parts. The esteemed guest (usually the oldest one) cuts bits and parts from the head
and offers them to the other guests at the table. The secret of distribution of parts of the
meat from the head lies in traditional wishes. When given the palate, it expresses the
wish - "be wise and eloquent", the larynx - a gift to sing, skin of forehead- "be the first
among equals". Meanwhile one or two dzhigits (young man), silting next to the esteemed guest
start cutting the boiled parts of meat to pieces and the dish is again spiced with tuzdyk.
The guests are offered to help themselves to the dish. The youth and children usually sit at
sides of the table dastarkhan. They receive meat directly from the elders. The custom is called
asatu and symbolizes the desire of the youth to experience the long and good life the elders
have experienced. When all the meat and sorpa (soup with large fat content) have been eaten and
drank, the most respected guest thanks the hostess on behalf of all the guests and blesses the
hosts of that house.
If during its century-old history the Kazakh people has accumulated much experience in
processing and cooking meat and milk dishes, the present-day life has replenished this set by
dishes made of vegetables, fruits, fish, sea products, as well as baked and meal makings
Great importance was given to layingin and long-term preservation of food.
During live-stock slaughter a part of meal was salted, dried, sometimes smoked; of horse-meat
mainly such delicacies as kazy, shuzhuk, zhal, zhaya, karta and so un were made.
Bread was baked mainly in form of flat cakes; among baked makings the greatest
popularity enjoyed and enjoy baursaks.
Among drinks kumys, shubat and airan were always popular; tea enjoyed particular popularity.
In our days the main features of this old rituals and table etiquette exist, are carefully kept,
followed and passed to their children.
The present-day entertainment has changed in some details but continues to observe
the ancient laws of hospitality. And what is more, its boundaries have broadened: the
present-day dastarkhan gathers not only Kazakhs but also numerous guests living in one big
multinational family - Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Germans, Uigurs, Dungalts, Korcans.
The present-day Kazakh cuisine includes not only traditional Kacakh dishes but also
dishes of the Uzbek, Uigur, Russian, Tatar, Korean and other cuisines the Kazakh caught
the fancy of. Just therefore it is easily tc note international featum in the present-day
Kazakh cooking side by side with pure national ones.