All posts filed under: Turkmenistan


Monday Meal Review: Turkmenistan

Our week cooking Turkmenistan was all about the bubble… bubbling Watermelon Jam, bubbling Central Asia Tea, and bubbles on the forehead. It was the bubbles on the forehead that really made me smile. In Turkmenistan, tapping your tea bubbles, then tapping your forehead is said to bring good fortune. This little ritual definitely falls in the realm of superstition. I felt a little silly doing it. At first, I couldn’t figure out why. The awkwardness wasn’t really about getting my forehead wet, although that certainly played into it. And it wasn’t about having to demonstrate to my skeptical family, although their giggles definitely made me feel extra silly. Here they are.. tap, tap. And then I realized what it was. The superstition felt weird because I haven’t been following any superstitions of my own lately. When I was in high school, I’d say “If I get this trash in the basket, then I’ll have an awesome day.” When I was in college, I’d say, “If I tap my pencil three times, I’ll pass the test.” …

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How to throw a Central Asian Tea Party

  The best kind of party is a tea party. Even better? A themed tea party. This week we’re exploring the Central Asian Tea Party. As I read through many descriptions of teas in Turkmenistan (this week’s Global Table) and her neighboring countries, I realized there are just FIVE basic things you need for a Central Asian Tea Party. Anything else is icing on the proverbial cake. 1.  Green or Black Tea.  In Central Asia, people drink two main kinds of tea, green or black. Green tea is typically sipped in order to relax, while black tea is enjoyed for an energetic boost. Both are called “Chai,” which simply means tea. When serving, the tea should be poured from very high up into each glass… do this at least three times. This aerates the tea and makes tiny bubbles (more on this in a moment). 2. Fun superstitions Much of the fun of any global tea party is learning the superstitions that go with them. Here are two from Central Asia. a) If you can tap the …

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Watermelon Jam

Imagine living in a place that has a National Holiday called “Melon Day.”  You could be surrounded by more than 400 kinds of melon, including some 50 varieties of watermelon.* The cool, sweet flesh would fill your belly and spirit. Eating it would definitely make you smile. And spreading it on bread? Even better. If any of this appeals to you, you might want to consider moving to Turkmenistan. These lovely people have celebrated Melon Day since 1994, and they don’t plan to stop eating the sweetness anytime soon. When I read in The World Cookbook for Students that Watermelon Jam is a thing in Turkmenistan (particularly when served on toast with tea), I knew we had to try it. I made a nice batch of jam from half a regular watermelon. Tastes like jarred sunshine. What a great gift to share with friends and family! Perhaps with a spot of tea… NOTE: I used Pamona’s Universal Pectin because it allows me to add less sugar to the mix (just 2 cups). I found Pamona’s at Whole Foods, though …

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Menu: Turkmenistan

“Whatever you put in your pot comes to your spoon.” Turkmen Proverb We’re in the middle of summer. The sidewalk’s sizzling, but anyone from Turkmenistan can tell you; that’s no reason to turn off the kettle. This week we’re celebrating summer in true Turkmen Style. First, with a spirited watermelon jam, inspired by the 200 varieties of melon that grow in Turkmenistan. Second, with a central Asian tea party – a fun way to gather with family and friends. *Both recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week.   Watermelon Jam [Recipe] Boil up some watermelon, sugar, and lemon juice. Add a bit of pectin. Voila! The perfect Turkmen-inspired gift for someone you love. A yummy (and unusual) addition to any summer brunch. Central Asian Tea Party [Recipe] Invite a few friends over to experience a Central Asian Tea Party.  We’ll share seven ways to make the tea party as authentic and fun as possible. P.S. If you’re looking for something more savory, check out our recipes linked in our About the Food of Turkmenistan post.

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The Darvasa gas crater in Turkmenistan. Photo by Tormod Sandtorv.

About the food of Turkmenistan

There’s no way to dance around it… In Turkmenistan, you can come face to face with the “gates of hell”… The only catch? Darvasa is no supernatural place. This “hell” is manmade. Way back in 1971 this crater was formed while drilling for natural gas. There was a collapse and, to prevent the escape of fumes, some people decided they should … set the gas on fire. (Had I been around, I would have definitely been against throwing a match* in a giant pit of natural gas… am I alone in this?) Geologists claimed the fire would burn off in a few days. More than forty years later, here we are. The gas still burning, burning, burning. (Something about this feels like a Jim Morrison lyric.) Darvasa is now a major attraction, with tour guides flicking cigarette butts around the place, laughing over flare ups. Sounds like the beginning of a sci fi movie. This week, we’re skirting past the “gates of hell” and diving into the fresh summer bounty of Turkmenistan. Sure, this puppet shaped …

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