April 30th, 2006
Posted By:
Categories: General

One of the best memories we have about Kazakhstan is its food. Yes, we are big eaters by nature. I remember a family reunion on my side as a child. We had just finished a large buffet breakfast, and someone innocently asked, well, what do you think we should do for lunch? As my Uncle Charles eloquently put it: “We Boltons are eaters. It’s what we do. We eat.”

Add to the fact that yours truly is a wannabe Iron Chef, and you can see why I was so interested in learning all about Kazakh cooking. To be honest with you, Kazakh cooking borrows heavily from Russian cooking, with the exception that there is definitely some Asian influence as well. You will also see Uzbek influence.


So, whether or not you are an ace in the kitchen, everyone has to at least give Kazakh cooking a shot. And hey, if you are still waiting for your adoption, and finding things to kill the time, this will be perfect for you. In fact, I can also highly recommend sampling some Russian vodka (“voh-tka”) or Kazakh beer as you give these recipes a try. If you fail at the recipes…well, you probably won’t care!

Let me first share a good general site for researching Kazakh recipes, the Kazakh Adoptive Families Cooking Page. This page will link you to actual recipes, as well as some pages explaining the history of Kazakh cooking.

The big staples in Kazakh cooking are pasta or flour based pastry, potatoes, and meat. Ok, and horse meat. Yes, that’s right, horse meat is a delicacy in Kazakhstan. Here is the link for delicacies of horse flesh. Have at it.

My favorite dishes by far are Shashlik (a sort of BBQ), and fried fritters of many sorts, meat-filled, potato and herb filled, and even fruit filled. But what is amazing is that Kazakh people are generally very thin. Their serving sizes are miniscule compared to the U.S.

Finally, a lesson on Kazakh cooking wouldn’t be complete without mention of Manty, which are quite similar to ravioli. This site has a great Manty recipe as well as several fritter recipes. Here is the Manty recipe for you, enjoy!

Manty (Uzbek Lamb Dumplings)

To serve 6

1 1/2 pounds of lean lamb, finely ground (or ground beef)
1 1/2 cups of finely chopped onions
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons of butter

1 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of water
1/4 cup of finely cut fresh dill leaves or fresh mint
1/4 cup of unflavored yogurt
For the filling, mix the ground lamb, chopped onions, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl, make a deep well in the center and pour in the water. Mix vigorously until smooth, then gather the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a rectangle about 1/16 inch thick. With a 4 1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut out 18 to 20 circles of dough and spoon about 5 teaspoons of filling in the center of each. Top each circle with 1 teaspoon or butter and draw up the sides of the circles so that they meet in the middle, enclosing the filling. Dip your fingers in water, pinch the top closed and twist it to form a small pouch.

Steam the manty in the following fashion: Pour enough water into a large kettle to come about 1 inch up the side. Bring to a boil over moderate heat and set a colander into the kettle. Place the manty in the colander, cover the kettle securely and lower the heat. Steam for 15 minutes, then transfer the manty to individual bowls or to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with the dill or mint and serve with yogurt, either as an accompaniment to the soup of alone as a light luncheon dish.

5 Responses to “Try Your Hand at Kazakh Cooking!”

  1. arkangels says:

    Hi all. My name is Lisa Finneran, and I’m the editor of the recently published cookbook “Ya Tibya Lublu: Recipes of Love for Orphans of Eastern Europe.” Everyone who worked on the book volunteered their time and all proceeds from the sale are going to make living conditions in orphanages in Eastern Europe better.

    You can check out the book and order online at http://www.arkangels.org.

    Ya Tibya Lublu includes 400 recipes — about half of them from Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.

    Here’s a sample recipe for Shashlik from Kazakhstan:

    1 leg of lamb, most of the fat remaining
    1 head garlic
    tomato paste
    black pepper, coarsely ground
    salt, coarsely ground

    Using a sharp, narrow knife, made deep incisions at 1/2-inch intervals over the entire surface of the meat. Peel the garlic cloves and thinly slice each lengthwise. Insert garlic into incisions (meat will close the incision as it cooks). Cover the first surface of the leg to be cooked (or the entire leg if using a rotisserie) with tomato paste (as if you were applying mayonnaise to bread) and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Grill over charcoal to desired doneness, repeating tomato paste and seasonings as you turn the meat.

    Note: Traditionally this would be served pink with Eggplant Caviar (Baklazhanaya Ikra) and Rice Pilaf (Plav). Both recipes are included in Ya Tibya Lublu.

    –Lisa Finneran
    Editor, Ya Tibya Lublu

  2. Thanks for the post, and you included my favorite Kazakh, dish, SHASHLEEK!

  3. arkangels says:

    Glad to! My new cookbook — “Ya Tibya Lublu: Recipes of Love for Orphans of Eastern Europe” — includes lots of Kazakh dishes, including one from the Kazakh embassy!

    And all the money raised from the sale of the book go to orphans in Eastern Europe.

    Check us out at http://www.arkangels.org!

    –Lisa Finneran

  4. [...] Uzbek Lamb Dumplings This manty recipe seems pretty stan­dard: dumplings with lamb and onions, cov­ered in yogurt and fresh dill or mint. [...]

  5. [...] Uzbek Lamb Dumplings This manty recipe seems pretty standard: dumplings with lamb and onions, covered in yogurt and fresh dill or mint. [...]

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