Recipe: Kyrgyz stuffed & rolled pasta (Oromo)

Truth: anything coiled up is infinitely better than the same item not coiled. Think cinnamon rolls… princess Leia’s hair… really flexible kitty cats napping… and now, as never seen in my kitchen before Global Table Adventure, Oromo. This Kyrgyz dish of rolled and coiled pasta filled with various stuffings is pure genius. Unlike Italian stuffed pastas, no cheese is used as binder. Instead the filling is commonly meat and veggies (such as sweet potatoes or pumpkin). While it remains a decidedly simple recipe, some southern regions of Kyrgyzstan are said to add herbs to their fillings.

Still, however you slice it, Oromo is also more comforting than cinnamon rolls, princess Leia and kitty cats combined.

True story.

Notes: before you get started on this little journey you’ll need a steamer, preferably metal but bamboo will do just fine. Recipe inspired by National Cuisines of Kyrgyzstan, where the recipe is said to be shaped like a swiss roll which is then bent back on itself into a circle. This recipe is my interpretation of these directions.


1 1/2 cups sliced sweet potato or pumpkin
1 onion, finely chopped
1 lb lamb, trimmed of fat and finely chopped (about 2 cups)
pasta dough


First, get in the mood by climbing the spiral stairs of Burana Tower. Don’t get dizzy!

Burana Tower in Kyrgyzstan. Photos by Hux and Bala Biott.

Then, prepare your pasta dough and set it aside to rest.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Like most meals in Kyrgyzstan, this recipe does not use a lot of ingredients. There are three main stars in our filling: lamb, sweet potato and onion. That’s it.

You’ll want to chop everything up really small – about a quarter inch at the biggest. Next time I’m considering running everything through the meat grinder for a quicker, finer mix and a fun variation.

Add everything to a bowl with salt and pepper. Be sure to season it well – maybe 1/2 tsp of pepper and more salt than that.

Give everything a good mix. If you’d like more sweet potato, add it! If you’d like more meat, chop some extra. It’s all about making your tummy happy. Have fun with it… make up a little song and sing it.

Now, time to get serious. Divide the now rested and smooth pasta dough into four pieces.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it out as thin as you can – about 2 mm thick is good. The thinner you do it the more delicate the final dish. Of course, if you dont get it very thin it’ll take longer to steam and your coil won’t be as epic. No biggie. 

Cover with 1/4 of the filling and roll up the pasta into a long tube.

Next, coil it around itself. Repeat and add the second coil to the first, making it twice as big. Do this again with the remaining two pieces of dough so you end up with two coils of pasta.Steam for 45 minutes to an hour, or until cooked through. Add extra water as needed in the pot. Slice into pie shaped pieces and enjoy with a dollop of yogurt sauce (recipe will be up later this week) and a big smile. You did it! 

Be sure to finish your stovetop travel with a little nap in a Kyrgyz valley.

Mountains in the Naryn region of Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Lukas.

Now that’s a dream worth dreaming!

Happy day to you.

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  1. John Goodenow says:

    This sounds wonderful…so simple and so different.

  2. Yum!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. How cool is this?

  4. It’s a good thing that Y is sometimes a vowel. It’s a good thing I’ve heard this country’s name pronounced before, otherwise its name would look like a jumble of consonants that fell out of the scrabble bag in random order! So cool you found a picture of something (the stairs / tower) coiled around on itself like the meal itself! Now I’m hungry!

    • aunty eileen says:

      I love this recipe Sasha. I can’t wait for your review. I am wondering if it would be ok to brown/sear the meat first? I love at times recipes with just salt and yummy pepper and onions and with this receipe I can add lamb or chicken or ground beef and vegetables that I am in the mood for… I like that the dough looks thin/light…. It looks wonderful Sasha!

      • Sasha Martin says:

        Thanks! :) I think that would be a nice variation, however you’d want to be careful of drying out the meat – when it steams it becomes very tender.

  5. Sasha Martin says:

    Thanks everyone! I was really excited about trying the recipe when I first stumbled upon it. I’m looking forward to trying it again and tweaking the recipe.

    Tina, every time I type out the country I have to go very slowly and sound it out. is yzs or ysz… stuff like that. It’s definitely exercise for my little brain :) Additionally it reminds me so much of Kazakhstan (which is no treat to spell either!), so I’m liable to start typing the wrong country and have to go back and fix it. Who knew my spelling would also improve because of this Adventure?

  6. Hi Sasha:

    Looks good. Shape is right – if not usually a bit flatter. Lots of different regimes to spice these with beyond S&P – cumin being the most common. I’ve also had them laden with fenugreek leaves and even one featuring star anise.

    Can also dot the top with seeds (especially cumin or sesame seeds).

    There are also sweet varietiies with veg. Its the concept . . . then the endless variations

    You are right – easy to make anytime of day – including breakfast, along with some thick sour yogurt.



    • Sasha Martin says:

      My mind is whirling with the possibilities – I particularly love the idea of the seeds on top. Thanks for weighing in, I’m looking forward to trying your suggestions!

  7. What an interesting recipe! It looks so cute! And I bet it tastes delicious too! Well done! :-) And thank you for sharing such an unusual (for me) dish! :-)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Absolutely Manu – actually, it’s unusual for me too – that’s what has been such a great part of this Adventure – learning what fun tips and tricks the world has to offer. Thanks for stopping by :)

  8. That basic dough recipe steamed is very interesting indeed….I usually steam day-old bread and dry hard rolls or baquettes for as long as it takes for them to become soft and fresh tasting again….Your dough even looked like the inside of that tower…great post…

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