Heading back West from Samoa we travel 8337 miles to a country in Central Asia, with a small part to the west of the Ural River, so therefore in Europe, Kazakhstan is the worlds greatest landlocked countries by land mass and it is the ninth largest country in the whole world. Measuring approximately 2.7 million square km Kazakhstan is larger than all of Western Europe and has become the foremost nation of central Asia economically through the gas and oil production and the country has a huge mineral resource
China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan border the country and connect with the Caspian sea. The topography of the country is varied and includes rock canyons, steppe, deltas, snow-capped mountains, flatlands and deserts. The 61st most populated country in the world it is home to approximately 18 million people. However, given its vast land area, its population density is among the lowest. In 1997 the capital was changed from Almaty to its present day Astana.
Until the 13th century Kazakhstan was occupied by nomadic tribes, but Genghis Khan made his mark, living in the country as part of the Mongolian Empire. However, after internal skirmishes, power was returned to the nomads, but by the 16th century, the Kazakh materialised as a distinct group, which divides into three ancestral legs living in specific territories. In the 18th Century the Russians started their advance on the area and by the middle of the 19th century Kazakhstan was part of the Russian Empire. it was only after 1917 and the Russian revolution and the civil war that Kazakhstan was finally recognised and in 1936 became and was considered part of the Soviet Union called Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union Kazakhstan was the last of the republics to declare independence. It works hard to develop its economy, but human rights is very poor.
Kazakhstan is populated by 131 ethnicities, including Kazakhs (who make up 63 percent of the population), Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars, and Uyghurs. Islam is the religion of about 70% of the population, with Christianity practiced by 26%, Kazakhstan officially allows freedom of religion, but religious leaders who oppose the government are suppressed. The Kazakh language is the state language, and Russian has equal official status for all levels of administrative and institutional purposes, reflecting the long history of Russian dominance in the region.
The cooking/cuisine in Kazakhstan has historically concentrated on mutton and horse meat and also many milk products. Kazakhs were also historically herders, who farmed sheep (fat tailed) camels and horses and were heavily reliant on them for clothing, transportation and of course food. the original nomadic way of life has influenced their cooking techniques and major ingredients. meat in many forms has been the staple and boiling is the traditional way in which Kazakh people cook.
Kazakhs cared especially for horses which they intended to slaughter—keeping them separate from other animals and feeding them so much that they often became so fat they had difficulty moving.
Horse meat was not on our radar at all for tonight’s supper. Sheep’s meat is also used as common meat and camel meat is also used as a kind of festive meat, but not the main (as camels in Kazakhstan are not as common as horses). Cow’s meat is also a kind of common meat.
Having searched for something to eat that would be easy as it is a school night and Ian is on his own till I walk through the door. Kuyrdak is the national dish of Kazakistan. It is made of lamb and beef meat and is served with spices, herbs and finely chopped onion. . Here is another recipe for the same dish. Ian decided to use the spices from this dish to enhance the other one – so we will see.
Warm up the oil into the pan or a Kazan (the traditional kazak pot) add the cubed beef and lamb. I am told in the recipe that the lamb meat will bring taste and juiciness to the dish. fry off the meat until cooked through.
Slice the onion thinly and add it to the meat. Let them cook through too until brown, stirring continuously for an even cook.
Season well and drop in the cubed potatoes, let them cook for 5 minutes and add 1 cup of water.
At this point Ian added the spices from the other recipe, which enhanced the aromas a lot
Cover with a lid, let simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat.
Serve the Kuyrdak sprinkled with finely chopped parsley and slices of onion.
We served this with a pilaf rice, which contained various dried fruit and almonds.
Family Verdict: A very tasty dish indeed and the,lamb and beef complimented each other. the flavours were gorgeous and the aroma too. Ian said very easy to prepare and he also enjoyed it too. The combination of the two recipes worked really well. Rory not sure about the dish, but then he isn’t sure about a lot of things and would eat roast beef or lamb shanks every night if we let him.. I thought the pilaf was a good combination and both dishes I would certainly have again.
We are realising with our dining experience that there is a lot of similarity with things we cook. the difference is the spices and herbs obviously, but tonight’s dish could have easily have been a curry from India. Some of the casseroles we have prepared from various places have been similar also and no matter where we live we all have similar staples. Granted tonight horse meat isn’t a staple for us here, but other countries besides Kazakhstan eat such meat. This won’t deter us from carrying on because the whole experience is fun and at the end of the day you have to eat in the evening so it helps and even reduces the stress of deciding what to eat.