Turkmen cuisine just like any other national cuisine has been influenced by geographical and historical factors. Central Asian nations are very closely connected and there is much common in traditions. Turkmen cuisine has much in common with the other cuisines of nomads, but of course, they have some specific features which we will tell you about in this post.
Turkmenistan National Cuisine: History
The traditions of Turkmen cuisine have not changed for centuries. They are rooted in the lifestyle of the locals and associated with the nomadic lifestyle. In extreme desert conditions, agriculture was lower than in neighbouring countries and the main meal consisted of meat and dairy products. The most common dish was meat stew (sheep, camel, mountain goat). From neighbours, they adopted rice pilaf, dumplings and noodles.
One of the characteristic things about the national cuisine of Turkmenistan is the unique traditions and dishes varying from region to region. For example, in the southwest regions, Caspian Sea coast, fish dishes are popular like stewed grey mullet and grilled sturgeon. In central Turkmenistan the popular dish is garyn, sheep stomach stuffed with meat and fat. Another characteristic feature of Turkmen cuisine is that dishes are simple and basic with minimal flavours. The climate also had a great influence on traditional cuisine. Thus, dominating products are dried and smoked meat, fish and sausage that are well preserved on hot weather. Fruits are also dried and used all year round as a perfect dessert for tea.
Turkmenistan National Cuisine: Most popular dishes
The most important thing on the traditional table is chorek, Turkmen bread. There are also different flatbreads made of sourdough and layered dough. All the types of bread are prepared in a clay oven called tandyr. Cooking in tandyr is a special ceremony: tandyr is built in the house and it is considered sacred. Chorek is never cut with a knife - it is broken into pieces with hands and shared among guests.
One of the main dishes on the table is pilaf. Rice is cooked with lamb, onion and carrot. From meat dishes, the most common one is Govurma, fried mutton with onions and greens. Another traditional dish with mutton is gainatma. It is a meat broth with peas, tomatoes, potatoes and spices. Turkmen traditional mutton BBQ is prepared in tandyr or hot coals. From traditional soups, the most popular is shurpa with vegetables, boiled mutton and sour cream. Another variation of mutton soup is dogroma chorba with mutton, kidneys, lungs and heart.
Unlike other national cuisines of Central Asia, Turkmen cuisine has a lot of vegetarian dishes like herb stuffed pastries, cornmeal pancakes, pumpkin and cornmeal, kutab (pumpkin pie).
Turkmen sweets and desserts are similar to traditional cuisines of Turkey, Caucasus and Central Asia. You can find baklava, halva, navat and sherbet in local cuisine. Fruit syrup Bekmes is used instead of sugar or as a dessert topping.
Turkmens drink a lot of tea, just like other Central Asians. For a hot season, it is green tea (gok chai) and black tea on cold weather. Black tea can also be served with camel milk. From dairy products, Turkmens use sheep and camel milk, sour milk “gatyk” made of cow milk.
All those traditional Turkmen dishes can be tasted in top national restaurants of Ashgabat. Traditional dishes are now presented in a new way to make them look even more attractive.
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