Most people are familiar with the foods from neighboring China and Russia, but many don’t know much about the delicious and healthy food culture of Kyrgyzstan, one of the most fascinating countries in Central Asia. The food of Kyrgyzstan has its roots in the nomadic traditions of past generations, and it continues to change as the country moves toward a more urban society. Here are some tips on how to sample Kyrgyzstan’s rich culinary history while on your travels through this magnificent country. Kyrgyzstan’s food culture varies depending on where you’re traveling, but it’s not just about the food that makes Kyrgyzstan interesting; it’s also the people who make and enjoy it.
Vegetables & Fruits
Kyrgyzstan is home to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, many of which are exotic and not easily available in other parts of the world. The country’s climate is well-suited for growing a wide range of crops, and as a result, Kyrgyzstan has access to cheap, good quality produce. Fruits and vegetables are an important part of the Kyrgyz diet, and are often eaten raw or cooked in soups and stews.
Well-known vegetables are eggplants, carrots, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, and cabbage. The fruits grown in Kyrgyzstan include peaches, apricots, apples, pears, and grapes. Many vegetables are grown locally on small farms rather than being imported from other countries. You can easily find locally-grown produce at farmer’s markets across Kyrgyzstan where you can buy a variety of cheap fresh goods straight from farmers.
Along with locally-grown produce, Kyrgyzstan imports many of its fruits and vegetables from other countries. Fruit comes from Turkey, China, Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Ukraine and Israel. Vegetables are imported mainly from China but also Russia and Georgia. If you enjoy exotic produce then Kyrgyzstan is a great place to get it at good prices.
Beans & Lentils
Beans and lentils are a good quality, easily available food in Kyrgyzstan. They are an important part of the diet as they are a source of protein. Beans and lentils are often cooked with vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic. Kyrgyzstan is also known for its soups, which often contain beans or lentils. This hearty and filling soup is perfect on a chilly day in winter.
Traditional Kyrgyz food is generally quite simple and very tasty. They commonly serve dishes with rice or noodles, but are also known for a particular kind of pilaf called plov. This popular dish is made from fried vegetables, rice, lentils or meat. In Central Asia plov is traditionally cooked in a huge clay pot called a durnai.
Traditional Kyrgyz food – There are also many meat-based foods that are served in most dishes throughout Kyrgyzstan. Their chicken dishes come in many different variations, but they often include tomatoes, carrots, peppers and onions to add colour to these hearty meals. Some other common ingredients include potatoes, fish (including fermented fish) and mushrooms.
Noodles, Breads & Flatbreads
In Kyrgyzstan, noodles, breads, and flatbreads are a staple of the diet. The most popular noodle dish is laghman, which is made with hand-pulled noodles, meat, vegetables, and spices. Another popular noodle dish is beshbarmak, which is made with boiled noodles, meat and vegetables. Breads and flatbreads are also popular in Kyrgyzstan. The most common type of bread is non, a round loaf of unleavened bread that is cooked in a tandoor oven. Flatbreads such as kattama and yufka are also popular.
Most flatbreads are fried in oil, while noodles tend to be stir-fried. A typical Kyrgyz meal consists of meat, potatoes, vegetables, a little rice or noodles, and plenty of breads or flatbreads.
Spices & Vegetables: Kyrgyz dishes are often spiced with cumin, garlic, and chilies for added flavor. Spices vary by region in Kyrgyzstan. For example, the vicinity of Issyk Kul is known for its access to cumin seeds, which are commonly used in local dishes. Vegetables also play an important role in Kyrgyz cooking. Tomatoes are a popular ingredient as they grow easily during summer months. Mushrooms such as chanterelles can be found wild during autumn months.
Kyrgyz cuisine also features fermented dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and koumiss. Sour cream or kymyz is often used in dishes. Sour milk is often used as a dressing for salads, which are very common in Kyrgyz food culture. Ketchup is also very popular in Kyrgyz cooking. It is usually served on meat dishes rather than vegetables, but its presence on both indicates how Americans eat a wider variety of foods than many other cultures.
Sauces & Spices
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. The cuisine of Kyrgyzstan is similar to that of its neighbors, but there are some unique dishes and flavors. The most common spices used in Kyrgyz cuisine are cumin, black pepper, and red pepper. Garlic, onion, and salt are also commonly used.
Kyrgyzstan’s cuisine is influenced by its diverse ethnic groups. You can taste these diverse culinary traditions through the foods of the Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Uighurs, Tatars, Russians, and Ukrainians. The regional cuisine of Kyrgyzstan includes the Russian-influenced dishes of its resident Russians. Food from this region blends Russian flavors with native ingredients.
Many of Kyrgyzstan’s unique dishes are made with meat, particularly mutton, horsemeat, beef, and chicken. A popular dish is kebab—shishlik in Russian—which is often marinated in spices. One popular dish from Naryn province is manta: a boiled sheep’s head served with salt, peppers, chives, garlic pieces and kymyz. In areas populated by Uighurs you can find plov (pilaf), a rice-based meal usually served with lamb or mutton. Meat is also used to make dumplings called manti.
Meat, Poultry & Eggs
Traditional Kyrgyz cuisine is based around meat, poultry and eggs. The most common meats are beef, lamb and chicken, which are usually stewed or grilled. Kyrgyzstan is also home to a variety of delicious poultry dishes, including kazy , shorpo and beshbarmak (a noodle dish made with horsemeat). Eggs are also a key ingredient in many Kyrgyz dishes, such as katama (a fried egg dish) and manti (a type of dumpling).
Various local ingredients are also essential to Kyrgyz cuisine, such as samsa (Central Asian pastries), laghman, and shurpa. Saishte, a type of noodle dish, is another popular Kyrgyz food, as is Tasty Barbequed Meat – Kazy, which is barbequed meat marinated in spices. Another favourite food enjoyed by all ages is beshbarmak, a noodle dish made with horsemeat which tastes something like sour cabbage.
Kyrgyz food is usually served with laghman, a Central Asian pasta dish. Beshbarmak, however, is typically served in two ways: salyk beshbarmak (with meat) and shima beshbarmak (with noodles). For vegetarians, traditional dishes include katama (fried egg) with green pepper or walnut sauce. Desserts also form an important part of traditional Kyrgyz cuisine. Kuzma, for example, is a delicious treat made from boiled wheat and raisins.
Beverages & Drinks
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. The cuisine of Kyrgyzstan is similar to that of its neighboring countries, but there are some unique Kyrgyz dishes and beverages worth trying.
Traditional Kyrgyz drinks include kymyz, shoro , and bozo . Tea is also very popular in Kyrgyzstan, both black and green tea are consumed on a daily basis. Fruit teas, herbal teas, rosehip tea, coffee , and carbonated drinks are also consumed by many.
Cattle is a very important part of life in Kyrgyzstan, it is estimated that there are many cattle in Kyrgyzstan.