Most Tourists Will Never Dare Try These Bizarre Kazakh Dishes

Kazakh camel
Kazakh camel | © Ajayvir Pal/Pexels

Kazakh food is based on the nomad traditions of its roaming ancestors, favouring high-fat meat dishes that are easy to prepare on the move. While a sheep’s head poking up from your plate might be a strange surprise, the food is always nutritious and provides enough energy to see you through the freezing Kazakh winter.

Beshbarmak

Beshbarmak is the national dish of Kazakhstan and means ‘five fingers’, referring to the tradition of eating it by hand. The dish consists of boiled horse or lamb meat with large noodles that resemble sheets of lasagne, then it’s drizzled in an onion gravy broth.

Beshbarmak

Sometimes a sheep’s head is served with the meal and offered to the most honoured guest. This is often the eldest male having outlived his father, who then cuts and serves the meat for everyone else at the table.

No Kazakh meal is complete without a feisty beverage to wash it all down and kumis (Kazakh mare’s milk) is the default choice. The rigorous fermentation process removes the lactose from the milk (making it a great alternative to cow milk for people who are lactose-intolerant) and results in a signature fizzy and sour taste.

Kumis

Kumis is similar to kefir but, when fermented and given that mare’s milk contains more sugar than cow’s or goat’s milk, it has a higher alcohol content than kefir, making it a drink for the strong-stomached only.

Shubat

There are camels galore in Kazakhstan roaming the endless steppes, and so shubat is the camel’s milk equivalent to kumis. It is made in the same way as kumis and boasts similar health properties – and the same sickly, sour taste. These milky drinks are almost always served in bowls rather than in glasses.

Shubat

Kazy

At first glance, kazy is a meat dish that simply resembles a sausage. However, the food is made from the rib meat of Kazakh horses that have been bred and raised specifically to be eaten.

Beshbarmak

Once slaughtered, the meat is stuffed inside the animal’s intestines before being dried or smoked, then boiled ready for consumption. In a traditional banquet, known as a dastarkhan, kazy features as an appetizer and often served on a plate with onions and ground pepper.

Ears, brain, knuckle

In Kazakh tradition, young men are supposed to eat the ears of animals, like sheep, in order to become ‘more careful’. Young girls eat the palate to encourage ‘more diligence’, a bride gets the brisket, and married women eat the neck bones.

Children are allowed the kidneys and the heart but not the brain, as legend has it this will make them weak-minded, and any young girl eating knuckle forebodes the misfortune of becoming ‘an old maid’.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
Edit article