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Beshbarmak, Shalgam and Taba Nan

So researching to put together a Kazakh meal was quite challenging for me. Their favorite meat is horse, they traditionally boil their meat which is not usual for the Australian palate.

Beshbarmak, often made with horse is boiled mutton, on huge flat noodles, with onions and broth on the side called shorpa. It is eaten by the hand, Beshbarmak basically means “five fingers” in Kazakhstan. 

The mutton version I cooked usually comes with a boiled sheep’s head served to the eldest person at the table. This person cuts pieces of meat from the head and gives it to each person on the table. Unfortunately I did not have a sheep head available so I skipped this part of the meal.

On the side we had Shalgam, a Kazakh Radish and Carrot salad. Finally we enjoyed our Beshbarmak with Taba Nan, a Kazakh/Uzbek bread.

Eating this meal you get a real sense of it’s traditional origins. Nomadic herdsman offering Konak Asy, “food for guests”, where a guest is offered to choose a sheep from the herd, it is butchered and the entire animal is boiled and prepared. The head being given to the honored guest. The Taba Nan bread, cooked in a horse dung oven, horse dung being the best available fuel, accompanied by a side salad from the only available fresh vegetables.

It was an unique meal. One we enjoyed very much.



This slow-cooked meat dish is made with boiled mutton (sheep), beef, horse or camel, and served with either boiled, flat dumplings or thin noodles, and onions. Beshbarmak was usually eaten with one’s hands and helps explain its name, which means “five fingers.” The dish has a lot of cultural significance, and reflects Kazakhstan’s hospitality customs. The meat is traditionally served in small pieces to ensure that aksakals, or male elders, can chew it without difficulty. Beshbarmak, which is also popular in nearby Kyrgyzstan, is considered Kazakhstan’s national dish, and is the king of the table at any festivity, although it is also enjoyed daily in homes across the country.

While cooking this I was worried that is was going to be a bit too plain. Plain noodles and boiled meat sounds unpalatable but this meal was surprisingly good. The Chyk sauce was a revelation.

Eating this meal gave you a real sense of its tradition an origin. You could see how a nomadic tribe on the steppes would butcher and cook a whole sheep by boiling it in a big pot with salt and whatever herbs where around. Roll out flat noodles, cook it in the broth and serve it on a big platter for everyone to share. Really enjoyed this.


The national dish of Kazakhstan, boiled meat on noodles.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Kazakh
Servings 4



  • 1 kg Lamb or Mutton preferably with the bone in
  • 4 litres Water
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Potato
  • 1 Carrot
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds


  • 2 Eggs
  • 300 grams Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt

Chyk Sauce

  • 1 Onion
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • 500 ml Broth

Meat Fry

  • 3 cloves Garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


  • Put all the broth ingredients in a large pot and boil for about 2 hours. Periodically remove any foam that forms. The cook time will vary depending on the cut of the meat. You want to boil the meat until it is falling off the bone. Top up with water as necessary. Try and keep at least 500ml of broth in the pot.
  • When the meat is cooked let it cool before cutting it into small slices or strips 0.5-6 cm. Put the cut meat in a separate dish and keep it covered in a warm place.
  • While the meat is boiling, prepare the dough. Pour the water into a bowl, add egg and salt while stirring. Add the flour and knead the dough. The ready dough should be divided into two equal parts and placed for 10-15 minutes under a dish. This procedure makes it soft and pliable for rolling. Make those 2 parts into a bun which is then flattened by pressing down on it. Keep covered with a linen cloth and left for 15 minutes.
  • Roll each bun to a thickness of about 2-3 mm. Fold the dough into a roll and cut across into the form of noodles about 3-4 mm wide.
  • Lower the noodles into the boiling mutton broth (after having taken off the meat). When the noodles float to the surface, stir the pot and simmer for another minute. Remove the noodles from the pot, let them drain and place them onto a dish.
  • Then prepare the Chyk sauce. Finely chop the onion. Pour 0.5 l of broth in an pot and bring to boil. Add the chopped onions, black pepper and salt to taste. The Chyk should be hot when served with the meat and the noodles, so it is necessary to cover it and store it in a warm place in order to avoid it cooling.
  • Place the strips of meat in the form of a small hill in the middle of the rings of onions.
  • When serving, pour the Chyk sauce over the large platter with the meat and the noodles. The dish with noodles and meat is placed on the middle of the table.
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Served as a side salad with Beshbarmak. Simple refreshing salad. Made with Daikon radish it has a wonderful kick. The dressing is sweet and hot with the added Cayenne pepper.


Radish Salad
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine Kazakh
Servings 4


  • 1 Daikon radish grated into thin strips
  • 1 Carrot grated into thin strips
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper seeded and sliced thinly
  • 1 White Onion sliced thinly
  • 2 Garlic Cloves sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tbsp White wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper more if you like it hot
  • 1/2 tsp Salt


  • In a bowl, mix all the salad ingredients together.
  • In a small bowl put in all the dressing ingredients and whisk together
  • Pour dressing over salad and toss
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Taba Nan is a big round leavened flatbread. They have a raised edge and are decorated on the central dough. Traditionally they where cooked in a dung fire.

The dough is very wet. I let it rise for 2 hours but you could leave it for up to 8 or 9. I intend to experiment with a long fermentation version sometime in the future.

Taba Nan

0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine Kazakh
Servings 4


  • 3 cups All purpose Flour
  • 1.5 cups Luke warm water
  • 0.5 cups Milk or Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Active Yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil


  • Mix the sugar, water and yeast and let it activate
  • Add the yeast mixture to the flour, milk/yogurt, salt and olive oil
  • Mix well, kneed for 5 minutes and let sit to rise under a damp towel for 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours, remove the dough and separate into 3 or 4 balls of dough. Cover with the damp towel and let it rise again for 15 minutes.
  • Place a ball of dough onto some baking paper. Punch down the dough, create a depression in the middle.
  • Decorate your dough. Place into a dutch oven and bake covered in a 190 degree Celsius oven for 15 minutes and uncovered for another 15 minutes.
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