Beshparmak (dish of the week)

Jade Aruzhan Sagynay makes an exotic recommendation for the dish of the week- Beshparmak.

Jade Aruzhan Sagynay
18th November 2019
image: wikimedia commons
Being an international student, I have been exposed to a variety of foreign culture cuisines. Living in the UK I have tried dishes from all over the world. However, there is always a special kind of satisfaction and comfort in my own country’s traditional dishes. This is why I want to introduce to you one of the Kazakhs’ famous dishes: Beshparmak. It is native not only to Kazakhstan, but also Bashkortostan, Karakalpakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tatarstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

As a custom Beshparmak, translated to English as “five fingers”, is generally eaten from one tabak (huge plate) with your hands. It is a dish shared between a big number of people during family celebrations or country wide festivities. Its main ingredients are meat (horse meat is used more often in my country), zhayma (rectangular shaped noodles), potatoes and onions.

Cooking Instructions: Place a large piece of meat with a bone into a deep pot filled with water. When the water is boiled, reduce the heat to medium and cook for two to three hours (until the meat is soft and easily falls of the bone). To prepare the dough for the noodles combine whisked eggs with flour and salt and then gradually add water until you reach dough consistency. Knead it and roll it up into a ball, place it into the bowl and cover it. Let the dough sit for half an hour. After that time, roll out the dough into a thin layer and cut it into square shapes. Don’t stack them to avoid sticking. When the meat is done cooking, get it out, separate it from the bone and cut it into bite-size pieces. Boil the leftover soup from the meat and add cut-up potatoes. Add onions and noodles when the potatoes are nearly ready. Cook for about 10 minutes and they will be done. To complete the dish, lay out the noodles on the tabak, big plate, place the meat in the middle and cover it with potatoes and onions. Serve the soup in small bowls made for drinking. The eldest or most respected person at the table receives the honour of picking food from the plate first.

Overall, traditional dishes of Kazakhstan are heavily meat-based. Some of the other dishes I would recommend you to try, given the chance, are Baursaks and Kazy, as well as such drinks as Kumys, Shubat and Ayran. Of course it is possible to cook each dish at home in any country, but the best place to try them is in the country of origin cooked by a native Kazakh. They are well worth tasting at least once in a lifetime so make sure you do!

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