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.
- 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
- 1 Onion
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 500 ml Broth
- 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.