About the food of Kazakhstan

Sharyn River Canyon in Kazakhstan. Photo by Jonas Satkauskas.

Last night we had to say goodbye to my sweet kitty Cabo. He was very sick with feline AIDS. I’m feeling pretty low right now, so I hope you understand if I keep this brief.

Thankfully, Kazakhstan has fascinating food, so it is a decent diversion from my tired, puffy eyes and splitting heartache. And diversion is exactly what this heartache needs.

So let’s go for it. Let’s talk Kazakhstan.

Imagine eating a meal that has elements of Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East all bundled up together.

The result is the occasional stir-fry, noodle [recipe], turnip, and lamb-laden stew [recipe].

In one pot.

A melting pot, if you will.

With a side of pickled vegetables.

Kaindy Lake, Kazakhstan. Photo by Jonas Satkauskas.

The Kazakh’s eat a lot of boiled meats – and unusual meat, too – like horse. Lamb is probably the most popular meat and one place you’ll find it is in Manti, a steamed dumpling served with sour cream.

Like in the Middle East, the Kazakh’s love extremely sweet sweets – honey soaked noodles are particularly popular (called chak chak) [recipe], although fried dough is also beloved. They call theirs Baursaki. Serve with salty tea [recipe].

So those are a few tidbits about Kazakhstan. I hope you have a happy day.

And those of you with pets, give them a special hug for me.

Maps and flag courtesy of CIA World Factbook.


  1. Jessica Bennett says

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your cat, and I will definitely go give my Hedwig a hug. You’re certainly having an emotional month.

  2. I’m deeply sympathetic for what happened to your cat. I dread the day I’ll have to face similar decisions for my two little ones – they are going to get extra hugs today, I promise.

  3. Stephanie says

    I’m really sorry about your sweet cat. We had to put our cat Marzipan down when Charlotte wasn’t even two months old. I’ve never cried so hard in my life. My husband was crying too.

    On another note, my friend is actually moving to Kazakhstan at the beginning of next year. I’m going to send her your blog.

  4. Leigha Huston says

    I’m so sorry to hear about Cabo. I’m your neighbor’s girlfriend and just loved seeing Cabo wonder over and give us many of his deep meows. He would come a sit with us on the back porch, listen to our conversations, and slowly walk from person to person letting us pet him before moving on to the next and finally ending up in the middle of the circle. He was a fine cat and I’m sorry for your loss.

    On a lighter note – I read your blog everyday (most of the time first thing in the morning which is a bad idea since all the pictures make me instantly hungry). Your cooking is fantastic and your blogging is lighthearted and fun. You have also inspired Jonathan and I to dedicate whole evenings and meals to cooking from your amazing recipes. I look forward to following your worldwide journey of culture and culinary delights!

  5. Sasha Martin says

    Thank you for your caring and thoughtful comments. It’s amazing how these little guys can grab hold of us and leave such a hole when they leave.

    I was very emotional to read your comment, Leigha – I had no idea. Thank you for sharing that story with me – it is such a gift to know he was loved and given attention by you and your friends (although I’m not surprised he sought you all out – he was the world’s most affectionate cat, that’s for sure – always looking for someone to pet him). We are lucky to have such nice neighbors. Say hi next time you’re around 🙂 I’m also so glad that you enjoy the blog and trying the recipes – what fun!

  6. I have never been a cat person. And then I got Leo, my ginger love. He was more of a dog than a cat and indipendence was not this cat’s middle name. He followed us everywhere and always cuddled. He got very sick and left us too. This was almost 7 years ago and I miss him, and still think I saw him moving in my peripheral vision. So, since I no longer have a pet to hug, I hug you virtually. I understand.

  7. Maura Martin says

    I lived in kazakhstan for 8 years and the food never struck me as tasty. Except for fresh warm baursaki. I tried making it and it was a disaster. And Chuk Chuk is just plain hard sticky nasty. If you are serious about KZ food… You need to boil a sheep head and try the brain or eye in the dish beshbarmak. Literally this means five fingers. Boiled sheep head over homemade lasagna type noodles….yum….

    • I lived in Kazakhstan for two and a half years and I loved the food! It’s worth noting that Russian cuisine is also very prevalent, especially mainstays like pelmeni, vareniki, and the whole diaspora of mayonnaise-based salads.

      I adopted my cat in Kazakhstan (found him as a kitten on the street near my apartment) and brought him back home to the US – giving him a squeeze as we speak on behalf of your kitty.

      • Sasha Martin says

        Thanks Elena – I still think about him. Life is so fleeting… but I think it’s amazing you brought a cat back from overseas… I wonder if he has an accent lol!?

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