Recipe: Central Asian Noodle Stew (Lagman Shurpa)

Serves 4

Are you in need of some revitalization?

A breath of fresh air?

Are you worn out, tired, or just plain sad?

Are you cold?

I’m with you. I’m all of the above.

When I feel like this I just don’t know what I want. I want everything. And nothing. All at once.

I want to sleep. I want to watch movie after movie. I want soup. I want lots and lots of noodles. And then I feel guilty and want some veggies. But not the crunchy, raw kind. Nope, the cozy cooked kind.

Kazakhstan has the answer. Lagman Shurpa, a.k.a. noodle stew.

According to the old Kazakh saying “Meat brings strength, shurpa brings beauty” (from Please to the Table), it sounds like it will help just about every ailment.

It is also the perfect dish if you can’t decide what continent you’d like to eat from. It acts like  a stir-fry, a stew, and a hot pot all at once. And it has turnips in it.

Great for lifting you out of a heavy day.

1 1/2 lbs lamb or beef, cut in strips
vegetable oil
2 peppers (I recommend one sweet, one spicy)
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 carrots, sliced
1 medium turnip, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 quart beef broth
1/8 cup rice or white vinegar (more to taste)
red pepper flakes

1 batch homemade lagman noodles


basil, cut into strips
red pepper flakes
Sirracha chili sauce


Let’s find a peaceful place. Perhaps a bubbling brook or a grassy valley. Imagine yourself there. Imagine long lost friends happily exploring the terrain with you.

Mountains in Kazakhstan. Photos by Kalvis Vitolins and DenRu

Find a comfortable nook to build a fire and make some stew.

Now, cut up all the veggies in thin strips and cube the turnip.

Do the same with the lamb.

Then, heat a wok or large skillet over high heat and swirl in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil. When it’s extremely hot, toss in the meat and stir quickly, browning it.

Next, add in the veggies and garlic. Stir-fry a few minutes until softened.

Toss with salt and red pepper flakes – as much as you’d like.

Add the beef broth and bring to a simmer.
Cook for 45 minutes or until the flavors come together and all the vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, find a spot to sit awhile. Let yourself feel whatever it is you need to feel. Awaken. Breathe. Smile.

Ruins near Shal (kheyrabaad). Photo by Vahidjankouk.

When you get back, add in the vinegar and taste for seasoning. The vinegar will brighten the stew’s flavor and make the shurpa completely comforting.
Ladle over lovely homemade noodles and garnish with fresh basil, red pepper flakes, and hot sauce to taste. The fresh basil makes it totally addictive.
Take the time to enjoy this one with a dear friend or a memory of a friend.
Opt In Image
Hungry for more?
Be notified when National Geographic releases my memoir.

Simply fill in your details below.


  1. Jessica Bennett says:

    Looks good! And Please to the Table is one of my favourite cookbooks! Love the title of it too.

  2. Sash: You remind me of:.

    Someone wrote: “I really believe it is the spirit behind cooking, that spirit of doing for others and taking care of others, that is our way forward…when we cook we create better futures for those around us….The true beauty of our connectedness is that every act of kindness, no matter to who or where it is extended makes each and every one of our lives better and more valuable.”

    PS The entire editorial is by Bill Penzy of Penzy’s spices -current issue

  3. That looks amazing! If I had the stuff, I’d make that for dinner! For now it has inspired me to go make a big pot of chili (and all the while I’ll be thinking of what you made instead)!


  1. […] Asian Noodle Stew (Lagman Shurpa) [Recipe] A blend of thick, homemade noodles, stir-fried lamb and veggies, finished in a light broth. A […]

  2. […] deep crusted lamb makes for an addictive combination. I chopped up the leftover lamb and added to a lagman shurpa inspired soup from Kazakhstan. Now that’s a true Global […]

  3. […] steaming bowl of lagman soup (lagman are thick, homemade noodles, which we made back when we cooked Kazakhstan). […]

Speak Your Mind