Saturday, 8 September 2012

Olympic Food Challenge: Kyrgyzstan - Beshbarmak

Where do you start with Kyrgyzstan?  Before doing the research for the Olympic Food Challenge I would like to think that I'd have been able to find it on a map, but beyond that I knew nothing of the country, their culture or their cuisine.

I'm still not altogether genned up on the country's history, but I do know that Beshbarmak is one of those meals that are reserved for high-days, holidays and celebrations.  We are celebrating the food of Kyrgyzstan and that is enough for me.

The Kyrgyz were a nomadic people until around 100 years ago and their food is still entrenched in those traditions.  Simple food with few ingredients is the way forward and Beshbarmak is no exception.  The recipe I found called for lamb or beef and as Z is not a lover of lamb we opted for beef.  We got a wonderful piece of shin from B & J Callards and began the slow cooking process.

There are definitely two stages to Beshbarmak.  Firstly you cook your meat with some onion for a couple of hours and then you make a basic dough that you simmer in the meat stock.  I'll admit to being a little underwhelmed at the thought of this dish.  In fact, if it wasn't for the Olympic Food Challenge, I wouldn't have bothered cooking it at all.

But then I would have missed out on a fantastically wonderful dish.  We added half a green pepper to the finished dish, but other than that we were true to the recipe.  The noodles were a cross between pasta and udon noodles.  The shin beef was perfectly cooked and the broth, oh the broth.  I won't go as far as suggesting that you drink it out of tea cups*, but it is delicious.  I suggest you try this for yourself.  If you are interested you can find the recipe I used here.

*which is the Kyrgyz way

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