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Central Asian Cuisine

Updated on May 17, 2011

Central Asian Cuisine

Central Asia is in the heart of the Asian region, and is composed of countries which were part of USSR before like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan , Kazakhstan (these five territories are part of USSR before 1991). Some countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia and a province of China, Xinjiang and Siberia are also included. Usually the boundaries are clouded and not that specific although at present, the countries the first five countries which I mentioned are modernly referred to as Central Asia. Central Asia is bounded by the Afghan country in the South, Russia in the north, the Sea of Caspian in the west and on the eastern side China.

Central Asia for most part (specially the first five countries I mentioned above) is part of the USSR and they have become separate solo nation after the USSR fall in 1991. Now, they are slowly finding their niche as they are modernizing. Central Asia is rich in mineral resources.

Central Asia Map

Some brief knowledge and history about Central Asia

 The first people who inhabit Central Asia are the Turks and the famous Silk Route played an important part of their history and culture. The Silk Route is the trade route that is exchanged between European countries, Asia, down China and goes all the way to the African continents. For almost three thousand years this route was the place for the exchange of goods, from silk, to food and religion. We all know that exchange of trade has an impact in the culture, and one of this is religion. Majority of the religion in the Central Asia is Muslim and the spread of Buddhism is a part and consequences of the trade route.

Central Asia is mountainous and has large partly desert region. It is cold in the winter and hot because of the high mountains and the cold wind from Siberia gives it a chill, because of this, part of their cuisine are meat from herds like lamb meat - mutton, horse and other herds.

People are mostly used to eating lamb as a famous meat -- mutton, horses, goat etc.

Agriculture varies from grain to rice and they also raise animals specially lamb and horse. Central Asian cuisine is mainly rice variation with lamb -- kebab and bread from wheat or other grains.

Central Asian Cuisine

Food or culinary culture is a by product of the topography, geography and climate of the region. The availability of food to cook is dependent on these factors including ones religion and personal preferences.

Mostly Central Asia is nomadic (not anymore but even a century ago, yes), they moved from one place to another and with herd, that is why they eat mostly meat animals like camels, sheep and horses, cattle and goats,. Central Asian cuisine is a result of their environment, mostly high mountain areas, desert and agricultural land.

They also have rice dishes (specially in some areas where they have lots of flat agricultural areas) as main food with varieties sometimes fried with other herbs and vegetables, browned to cook. Palov or Plov is a rice dish which is mostly eaten in the region.

Kebab is also popular part of central Asian cuisine.

Mostly Central Asian cuisine is composed of :

  • mostly meat from lamb - mutton
  • rice dishes - palov, plov and other rice variations mixed with ingredients
  • horse meat dishes
  • bread
  • skewered meat
  • Noodles is made tastier by the kinds of meat available. -- a noodles made of carrots, lamb broth and noodles is popular
  • Boiling and grilling meat is common
  • Dairy products that comes from herded animals -- like milk of sheep and camel, cows and goats. There are milk which are produces out of fermentation like koumiss -- plus creams and yogurts

Cuisine -- Foods by Central Asian country

Main food 
KEBAB, they have variations in rice dishes -- parboiled rice -- Basmati like, Palao, chalo, stew caserrole onion based -- chorma 
KEBAB, rice dishes, dried fruits, plov is their national food riced brown mixed with seasonings and broth, tea is their national drink
mostly lamb meat, mutton and preserved foods, plus foods like lamb meat are very popular 
mostly meat from horses and mutton from lamb, and milk products, baursak and manti are very popular. Manti -- dough, lamb and black pepper, while baursak is a ball shaped doughnut and is cooked with oil -- fried
plov is the national food and this is composed of mutton - lamb meat, carrots and rice fried cooke doften in oven, their food is mainly based in cottonseed oil for flavorings, shaslyk which is skewered -- grilled meat of either chicken, lamb meat and with vinegar and onion
meat of lamb -- mutton, noodles and palov -- rice mixed with carrots plus onions, bread
Persia (Iran)
kebab, saffron rice cake, flat breads

Afghan kebab - lamb with rice

Palov, Tajik national food is composed of riced with broth and browned with seasonings -- the middle food is called palov

Lamb cutlets and any meat out of lamb is the favorite food in Kyrgyzstan

Horse meat platter from Kazakhstan cuisine

Palov - Uzbek main rice dish meal

Persian kebab with rice and side ingredients

Sturgeon Kebab -- Turkmenistan kebab made of fish

Mongolian stew


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