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Kazakhstan desserts

Foods to Eat in Kazakhstan

3 Frozen Watermelon Desserts

You can easily find lists of ‘traditional’ Kazakh foods… but what about all the other food we eat? Below, I attempt a brief listing of food in Astana, but I welcome your additions…

Airan. Drinkable yogurt, usually unflavored. Handmade in yurts in Mongolia; sold as a commercial staple in supermarkets in Kazakhstan. Common and served in cafeterias as a drink.

Baursak. Fried bread spheres, much like a donut except unsweetened. Delicious when fresh; soaked in oil.

Beshbarmak. Boiled noodles (shelpek) in an oily meat sauce, with sheep meat, potatoes, carrots, and onions served on top. Widely regarded as Kazakhstan’s national cuisine, and served on special occasions.

Borshch. Yes, you can get this famous Russian soup here. Dark purple with chopped vegetables and beets, warmed over and served with a dollop of sour cream. Delicious. Vegetable soups, solyanka (pickle and meet soup), and buckwheat, pea, or grain-based soups are also common in cafeterias.

Bread. Lord, you don’t go through life without bread. Use to dip in sauce, or eat alongside any meal. Available quite cheaply at most stores and restaurants alongside the main meal.

Chechil. Dried and salted string cheese, found for $2 a pack at the supermarket, wrapped in a little plastic package and looking approximately like a skein of yarn. Pull apart and eat with beer. May be making an appearance in America soon – keep an eye out!

Chook-Chook. Soft bits of dough fried and then soaked in a sugar glaze; served in a sticky mass and available at the supermarket.

Coca-Cola. Judging by its frequency in every shop, restaurant, and party, this belongs on the list. Variants include Coke Lite, Fanta, Sprite, and limonad, a fizzy fruit-flavored drink.

Dill. A dish is not complete without a generous garnish of dill leaves (or failing that, parsley). Known as ukrop in Russian, I’ve heard an even better name in Kazakh: askok, which literally means “food-green.” As in, the only spice you need.

Doner. Has conquered the world. As you would expect: small kiosks, lukewarm meat layered with potatoes, carrots, some greens, and a generous load of mayonnaise, forming a sort of Turkish burrito. Sold from kiosks and mall food courts; quality is quite variable depending on heat and freshness.

Halva. A sweetened sunflower seed paste, common in Russia. Usually pinched from a soft block and eaten with tea. My sister has become addicted and now buys it in America. I prefer the chocolate version, or the one with raisins. My housemates are less than happy when I pick all the raisins out and leave the paste, however…

Garneeyr. In many cafeterias, meat and grains are purchased separately. The latter are called garniir and may include noodles, potatoes, or grechka, a boiled dark-brown buckwheat that has a hearty-but-bland flavor.

Jam, or vareniya. Eat over bread, found in pastries, add to tea for flavor, or even eat by the spoonful over a late afternoon tea. Myod (honey) is another common sweetener.

Jent. A hard grain like millet, soaked in sugar and oil, eaten as a dessert. Traditional but not often found now.

Katchup. Yes, Heinz, and all the rest. Ketchup is one of the most common garnishes for fries, noodles, dumplings, anything; ostriy ketchup has a slight kick to it.

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