Turkmenistan, lying along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to its north and Iran and Afghanistan to its south, may be the least explored of the five Caspian countries, but the country is as rich in culture and cuisine as any of its neighbors. A blend of its nomadic past, ethnic Turkmen majority, and Uzbek, Russian and Tajik minorities, our cuisine is piled high with meat, rice, sour milk products, cereals, vegetables, cheeses and butter made from camel’s milk. A distinctive feature of the Turkmen dishes has always been their nutritiousness and simplicity of cook, which however; does not simplify the taste of Turkmen dishes but makes it richer.
Pilav isThe most popular dish in Turkmenistan. Turkmen have an absolutely different way of cooking pilaf. Alongside rice, meat, onion and carrot, very often you can find in it dry and fresh fruit of various kinds, which accentuate the taste of other components and make the whole dish a shade fresher and more piquant. And only in Turkmenistan you can taste the most unusual pilaf with fish instead of meat.
Dograma — the word comes from the verb meaning “to cut to pieces”. This is the original Turkmen dish. One can hardly try it in the neighboring countries’ cuisines and it is actually honored by Turkmen. Dograma is basically a rich mutton broth filled with a special type of stiff, dry, unleavened bread called churek. The churek is torn into small pieces that are stirred into the hot broth, thickening it into a stew that is surprisingly tasty, given its very basic ingredients. The dish is very ancient also was considered as an integral part of sacrifices rituals. Huge amounts are made for religious holidays and other celebrations.
Manti are a core item in the cuisine of most of the Turkic peoples of Central Asia and were likely first created deep in the interior of the continent. Turmens, Uzbeks, Tadjiks and Kazakhs all enjoy these large, dense and chewy dumplings filled with a simple seasoned meat and onion mixture. From the Central Asia, manti spread east and became Korean mandu, Japanese gyoza, Chinese jiaozi and Tibetan momos. To the west, the Turks, Georgians and Armenians also took them up with gusto, each tweaking the recipe and form to local preferences. Central Asians sometimes boil or fry their manti, but the cooking method of choice is usually steaming. Freshly filled dumpings are lined up in a large, multi-layered steamer pot called a mantovarka and steamed over boiling water or stock until cooked through and tender. Manti are typically served with a garlicky yogurt sauce or a splash of vinegar and a sprinkling of red chile powder or black pepper.
Shashlik is native to Central and West Asia. The term shashlik is derived from the Turkish word shish (also used in the term shish kebab) which means “skewer”. The main technique of shashlik (or shashlyk) is to marinate the meat in an acid liquid, typically based on vinegar, wine, lemon or other, for a few hours before grilling on an outdoor grill