International Meals – Kazakhstan

It’s been a hot minute since we posted one of these, but we’ve been busy.  Specifically, we’ve moved!  Now that we have our permanent residency in Canada, we decided that we’d rather start building some equity of our own, rather than continue to help our landlord do so. So we’ve purchased a condo.

Of greater relevance to THIS blog, however, is our new kitchen.  The oven is tiny, but we have SO much more counter space!

Counter space with dough ingredients
Look at all that room!  And there’s even more on either side of the range top.

Good thing, too, because the perceptive among you may have looked at that picture with flour, water, salt, and eggs, plus an expanse of blank countertop, and deduced that we are making glue.  But you’d be wrong, because glue doesn’t HAVE eggs, silly!  Add eggs to glue, and you get noodles!

Add sugar to glue, and you get cake.

I have no idea how cooking actually works.

At any rate, we are going to attempt the national dish of Kazakhstan, beshbarmak. Beshbarmak literally means “five fingers”, and is a dish of meat and noodles that is intended to be eaten with your hands on festive occasions.  Since it’s not a terribly complicated recipe, we decided to complicate matters a bit by making our own noodles.

To balance that, we are using a SLIGHTLY non-traditional way to cook the lamb.

Instant pot
Because we sprang for the Instant Pot with the stainless steel insert, we are going to be able to save some effort here by doing everything in one pot – moving it back and forth from the pressure cooker to the stovetop.

But first, let’s get that dough going.  Mix, knead, and rest.

Dough in plastic wrap.

Ball of dough in plastic wrap.  Not the most exciting photo.  Then roll out.  I rolled it to what I THOUGHT was fairly thin, but future me will wish I had gone even farther.

Dough rolled out and cut into squares
Various recipes have differing ideas about how large these squares should be.  Again, hindsight is 20/20, but we’d probably have gone slightly smaller if we knew then what we know now.

Here’s the sequence.  First, the lamb is cleaned with vinegar, and then boiled on the stove to get the first round of foam and fat off.

Lamb on stove.

Next, the meat is drained and then the pot is refilled with water for a 30 minute pressure cook.  At the end of this, you have tender cooked lamb and a nice pot of broth. The lamb is removed, and the broth goes back to the stove top, where it is used to cook a big pile of onions.

Chopped onions
Out with the onions, in with the pasta.  It poofed up pretty thick, which is why we wished past us had done a better job.

Pasta draining
Finally. two cups of the stock are boiled with more onions (diced this time), salt, and a fresh bay leaf to make a sauce.  Yes, I know – the joke is that bay leaves don’t actually DO anything.  I thought so too.  But science has been scienced, and you can’t argue with science.
Sauce and herbs
With that done, it’s time to assemble: noodles, onions, meat, greenery, (dill and parsley, here) and sauce, with a nice bowl of broth on the side.
Kazakh meal
And it was perfectly fine.  Super exciting?  Not really. But onions, dough, and meat with a few herbs is a nice filling comfort meal all over the world.

It’s not at the top of the list of international meals we’re eager to make again, but it’s ALSO nowhere near the top of the list of international meals that weren’t to our tastes, either.  It was just a solid, hearty meal that was MUCH easier to make on a big countertop.

Next up – Kenya!