Central Asian Cuisine Ethnic Food Facts & History

Central Asia is a rather unknown region of Asia that is surrounded by Russia, China, Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea. It comprises of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. There is a heavy Russian, Chinese and Persian influence and that is visible in its cuisine as well.

Central Asian Cuisine Facts & History

 

• The cuisine found in Kazakhstan is influenced by the nomadic way of life. A lot of Russian influence can be seen here. It contains a lot of meat like that of goat and horse. Most of the dairy is also fermented for preservation.
• Nomads live off the land and therefore, the cuisine contains a lot of root vegetables, milk and milk products from livestock and food that can grow in dry areas like potatoes, onions, and carrots.
• Kyrgyzstan fell on the popular trade route called the Silk route and the food from the region has visible influences from Russia, China and Uzbekistan.
• Due to its geographical position, Tajikistan’s food is majorly influenced by Chinese and Afghani culture.
• Turkmenistan showcases a large influence of the Persian culture.
• The most well-known dishes of the Central Asian region come from Uzbekistan. The country has a major Jewish population and the dishes found here carry a lot of Jewish flavor in them too.
• Wheat is a staple and can be found in different kinds of breads that are consumed in the region.

Central Asian Cuisine Menu

Breakfast

Somsa
Cooked inside a clay oven, somsa is essentially stuffed dough with a filling of meat or veggies. Variants of this dish are eaten all across Central Asia.

Oromo
A Krygyzstani delicacy, this one has dough filled with cabbage, onions and finely chopped meat.

Katlama
A flaky and flavorful flatbread that is usually eaten with tea.

Khanum
An Uzbek favorite, this is also known as Lazy Mantas. These are very similar to pies and are usually filled with meats, pumpkin or herbs.

Quinces
Stuffed quinces can be easily found in Uzbekistan. They are baked in an oven and have chicken with melon and potatoes.

Sausage & Bread
Sausages especially that made from horsemeat and goat are a big thing in the Central Asian cuisine. Sliced sausage on one of the many breads in the region can be found as a breakfast item easily.

Gardob
This is a porridge that is made from wheat flour, oil, milk and water.

Fresh Fruit
Dried and fresh fruit are both big in Central Asia. While fruit may not be a complete breakfast unto itself, it is used as an accompliment.

Lunch

Plov/ Paloo
This one dish is a Central Asian staple. Made from spiced rice mixed with vegetables and meat, you can find different versions of it across the region.

Beshbarmak
Made from mutton, this is a dish that is extremely popular in Kazakhstan. It is served with pieces of boiled dough that have been cooked in the meat and onion broth. It was traditionally made with horse meat, but now lamb and beed are also used.

Laghman
This is a dish from Krygyzstan and has its roots in China. It is bowl of noodles, topped with a soup of meats and vegetables. The East Asian influence in its flavors in undeniable.

Shashlik
Heavily consumed in Turkmenistan, it is spiced mutton skewered and slow roasted on hot coals.

Shorba
Another Central Asian delight, this one contains boiled mutton on the bone, along with veggies like turnips, carrots and potatoes for flavor.

Borscht
This is the Russian influence coming through in the Kazakh food. Borscht is purple in color and is made from beetroots, beef stock, onion, potatoes, and carrots.

Ashlan-fu
A Krygyz-dish, this one contains cold noodles with peppers and vinegar. Egg is also added sometimes to the dish.

Ganfan
It takes inspiration from the Chinese cuisine with rice served in a spiced broth of vegetables and meat. This can be found in a Krygyzstani household.

Gandush kuga
This is a rare vegetarian option that you can find in Tajikistan, and is made from beans.

Gulchitai
Another horsemeat dish from Krygyzstan that has shaved meat to be eaten with nan.

Bread/Nan
Found all over Central Asia, Nan is a dense and thick form of bread. It is generally eaten during meals with other dishes.

Yakhni
This Uzbekistani dish is usually made from two kinds of meat and is garnished with vegetable to go along with it.

Snacks

Manti
Served all across Central Asia, these are essentially dumplings that are filled with the meat of choice.

Pelmeni
Ground meat is filled in pasta and served with sour cream and is famous in many parts of Central Asia.

Hunon
This is an Uzbek dish that contains meat, onion, potato and carrots stuffed in dough that is folded like a roulette. It is eaten with thick yogurt.

Chochvara
A Krygyzstani delicacy is prepared exactly like Pelmeni, but is fried and served with a flavored tomato broth.

Zhuta
This Kazakhistani dish is similar to Hunon with the stuffing containing pumpkin and carrots

Qurut
These are balls of yougurt that have been preserved. These are tangy to taste and used like cheese

Qurutob
The salty and tart Qurut is mixed with water and drizzled over flaky bread. It is then topped with fried onions and other fried vegetables. It is eaten like a pizza.

Nahud sambusa
Found in Tajikistan, this is fried dough filled with spiced chick pea mix.

Dinner

Lunch and dinner menus do not differ much

Desserts

Bekmes
This is concentrated fruit syrup with no added sugar. Very tasty, this one is served in Turkmenistan.

Halwa
This is found in all Central Asian countries and is made from oil, flour and lots of nuts and dried fruits

Baklava
Another Central Asian dessert that is popular all over and contains flaky dough with a nut or dried fruit filled that is then doused in sugar syrup.

Drinks

Chal
This is camel’s milk which is tangy and fizzy, but appetizing and is a favorite in Turkmenistan

Kymys
A Krygyzstani beverage that is hugely popular and is made from mare’s milk that has been fermented

Tea
No matter which part of Central Asia you go to, you are going to find tea. It can be black tea, green tea, tea with sour cream, cardamom and fennel, or any other regional ingredients.

Kefir
Again a Turkmenistani beverage that is made from thick yogurt that is prepared by mixing kefir grains with the milk of cow, sheep, or goat. It is then fermented for 24 hours before serving.

Shubat
This can be best described as a milk tonic and is commonly found in the Kazakh cuisine

Linebrew
A cheap and rather tasty beer brewed in Kazakhstan

Holiday Menus

Sumalak
This is an absolutely important part of Navroz celebrations in Central Asia. The sprouting wheat grains are pressed. The extract is then mixed with oil and flour to make this delicacy.

Plov
A Central Asian favorite, this dish is part of any celebration in the region.

Yak meat
This is usually consumed in Tajikistan and is made during special occasions.

Beshbarmak
This is eaten in Kazakhstan during any celebration

Most Popular Dishes

• Plov
• Beshbarmak
• Shorpa
• Sausages
• Somsas
• Nan

Most Used Ingredients

• Mutton
• Beef
• Cheeses
• Tomatoes
• Carrots
• Potatoes
• Tea
• Melons

Traveling Foodie – What to eat when you travel to Central Asia

When you visit Asia, get ready to eat a lot of meats. Cured meats and cheeses will be abundant. You cannot miss on the horsemeat dishes and somsas that can be found in the restaurants. Also, do try Yak meat and the bizarre milks available in the region. Central Asia is a culinary adventure, so dive in with an open mind.

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Are you from Central Asia? Maybe you visited there? Please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts on Central Asianethnic food.

Author Name: Abdal Faiziyev

South Indian Cuisine & Ethnic Food Facts and History

The five states of India – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana come together to form Southern India. The five states have a varied variety of dishes on offer, but those who know the food will tell that they all have a common thread running underneath. That is why their cumulative cuisine can be loosely clubbed in one to be called the South Indian cuisine.

 

Spices are heavily used in the food because the region offers the ideal conditions for growing them. So, the food is warm to eat, and is usually served with rice. Whether it is an idli, appam, upma, or any other dish, there is an unsaid law that a South Indian meal cannot be complete without rice. Curd and coconut also form a big part of the food in this region.

 

South Indian Cuisine Facts and History

• The big region of South India It can be characterized by the use of coconut, curry leaves and mustard seeds
• The vegetarian food forms a big part of this cuisine and uses a lot of red chilies, tamarind, garlic, ginger and other local vegetables
• Rice forms a big part of the cuisine. Ragi is popular in southern Karnataka, while Bajra and Jowar form a big part of the meals in northern Karnataka, as they do in Telangana.
• Since most of South India is surrounded by water, fish and other seafood are also a big part of the Southern cuisine
• Andhra Pradesh has the spiciest food of the five states, while Karnataka has the mildest. However, North Karnataka is an exception to this.

South Indian Cuisine Menu

Breakfast

All of South India has some common items that are eaten for breakfast everywhere. These include:

• Idli
• Dosa
• Vada
• Upma

Andhra Pradesh & Telangana

• Pesarattu
• Dibba Attu
• Rava Dosa
• Atukula Dosa
• Godhuma Uppindi
• Semiya Upma
• Garelu
• Punugulu
• Nokulu Annam

Karnataka

• Mysore Masala Dosai
• Bhath Masala Dosa
• Set Dosey
• Neer Dosa
• Rulaama Doddak
• Holige
• Ragi Dose
• Uttappa
• Devangere Benne Dosa

Kerala

• Rice Puttu
• Rava Puttu
• Ragi Puttu
• Oats Puttu
• Idiyappam
• Palappam
• Palappam (Kerala Rice Crepes)
• Vattayappam
• Aval Velayichathu
• Avalos Podi
• Paal Pidi/Paal Kozhukatta
• Coconut Ada
• Godhambu Ada
• Mutta Kuzhalappam/Madakku San
• Kappa Puzhukku
• Godhambu Vellayappam
• Kappa Vevichathu
• Kappa Chenda Puzhangiyathu
• Chembu Puzhungiyathu
• Chembu Kuzhachathu

Tamil Nadu

• Kancheepuram Idli
• Vegetable Dosa
• Masala Dosa
• Adai Dal Dosa
• Rava Dosai
• Aval Upma
• Rava Idli
• Ven Pongal
• Onion Rava Dosa
• Rava Kichadi

Lunch

Rice, sambhar, rassam, and dosa are easy to find during lunch hours in any South Indian home. They are differently prepared in each state though. The specialty items offered by each state are as follows:

Andhra Pradesh & Telangana

• Chicken Biryani
• Mutton Biryani
• Hyderabadi Haleem
• Khatta Kheema
• Dum Ka Murgh
• Chinta Chiguru Mamsam
• Chicken Bhuna Masala
• Lauki Katti Dal
• Mamidikaya Pappu (Mango Dal)
• Hyderabadi Til Ka Khatta
• Liver Fry
• Khichadi
• Jonna Roti
• Dibba Roti
• Sajja Roti
• Uppudi Pindi

Karnataka

• Bisi Bele Bhath
• Mangalorean Veg Biryani
• Jowar Roti
• Veg. Sagu
• Khaara Bhath
• Majjige Huli
• Tovve
• Bas Saaru
• Maskai
• Bele Saaru
• Gojju
• Fish Fry
• Crab Curry
• Mudkule
• Bhatkal Biryani

Kerala

• Koottu Curry
• Potato Stir fry
• Carrot peera pattichathu
• Kaya/Ethakka tholi thoran
• Cheera Thoran
• Cabbage and Carrot Thoran
• Chena Mezhukkupuratti
• Kadachakka Theeyal
• Kumbalanga Pulisherry
• Aviyal
• adala Curry
• Cherupayar Thoran Cherupayar Thoran
• Kadala curry with coconut
• Chakkakuru Mezhukkupuratti
• Kerala Vegetable Stew
• Kappa ularthiyathu
• Pavakka Mezhukkupuratti
• Pavakka Kichadi
• Vellarikka Manga curry
• Varutharacha Mutton Curry
• Mutton Pepper Fry
• Nadan Chicken Curry
• Mutton Biriyani
• Ularthu
• Kappa Biriyani
• Kozhi mappas
• Thattukada style beef curry
• Nadan Beef fry
• Kerala Duck Curry
• Mutton Ularthiyathu

Tamil Nadu

• Pakkoda-Kuruma
• Paruppu-Thuvayal
• Kondai-Kadalai-Kuzhambu
• Pala-Kottai-Varuval
• Vegetable Biriyani
• Kathirikai-Kara Kuzhambu
• Urrulai-Mochai Gravy
• Ennai-Kathirikai-Varuval
• Vendakkai Morkuzhambu

Snacks

Andhra Pradesh & Telangana

• Bajji
• Ponganalu
• Kaarapoosa
• Boonda
• Gaare
• Murukullu
• Maramaraalu
• Senagala Talimpu
• Guggillu
• Namkeen

Karnataka

• Mysore Bonda
• Murukku
• Nuchchina Unde
• Khaara Mandakki
• Nargis Mandakki
• Kodubale
• Aalugadde Bonda
• Menasin kai bajji
• Baaley Kai Bajji
• Capsicum Bonda
• BaaLaka
• Chigali
• Kaalu kadabu
• Chattituttu

Kerala

• Sukhiyan
• Unniyappam
• Vazhakumbu Cutlet
• Achappam
• Kerala Style Beef Cutlets
• Erachi Pathiri

Tamil Nadu

• Muttai Parota
• Karidosai
• Kaldosai
• Jigarthanda
• Paruthipal
• Santhakai (Rice Noodles)
• Oputtu
• Kola Urundai (Meatballs),
• Thengai Paal
• Ulundu Kali
• Ragi Puttumavu
• Arisi Puttumavu
• Vazhaipoo Poriyal
• Paniyaram
• Ragi Pakoda
• Paal Parpi
• Kadalai Urundai
• Inippu Appam
• Pori Urundai
• Paal-Kozhukattai

Dinner

The Lunch And Dinner Menus Are Similar

Desserts

Andhra Pradesh & Telangana

• Sheer Khurma
• Khubani Ka Meetha
• Kajja
• Sakinalu
• Gil-E-Firdaus
• Pootharekulu
• Kajji Kai
• Sunnundallu
• Poornalu
• Pongali
• Payasam
• Chakodi
• Gavvalu
• Jeedilu
• Vennappalu

Karnataka

• Rava Kesari
• Kashi Halwa
• Mysore Pak
• Baked Nippattu
• Huggi
• Ginnu
• Kajjaya
• Unde
• Kadabu
• Karjikaayi
• Dharwad Pedha
• Damrottu
• Kunda
• Senige Huggi
• Hayagreeva
• Paramanna
• Mamu Puri
• Maaldi
• Kaaraa chevu

Kerala

• Ada Pradhaman
• Chakka Pradhaman
• Vishu Kanji
• Mambazha Pradhaman
• Godhambu Ada
• Madakku San
• Paal Pidi
• Chatti Pathiri
• Rava Laddu
• Parippu Payasam
• Palada Payasam
• Mutta Maala
• Bonda (made with banana)
• Banana Halwa

Tamil Nadu

• Asoka Halwa
• Muttasu
• Godhumai Halwa
• Kovilpatti Kadalai Mittai
• Tirunelveli Halwa

Drinks

Tea, Coffee, fresh juices and coconut water are the most commonly found drinks in the Southern regions of India, but there are some typical favorites as well.

Andhra Pradesh & Telangana

• Menthi Majjiga
• Pachchi Pulusu
• Falooda

Karnataka

• Ellu Juice
• Sonti
• Ragi Malt
• Appe Kayi Saaru
• Masala Tea
• Masale Majjige
• Bellada Panaka

Kerala

• Nannari Sharbath
• Watermelon Juice with Jaggery
• Morum Vellam

Tamil Nadu

• Jigartanda
• Neer More
• Panagam
• Saathukudi juice

Holiday Menus

Since the region is quite diverse the holiday menus vary a lot as well. Ugadi is one of the most important festivals in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana. It is celebrated by enjoying Abbattu. In Kerala, Onam is celebrated with much fanfare where locals enjoy a 26-part meal consisting of Puliyinchi, Aviyal, Payasam, Thoran and so much more. In Tamil Nadu, Pongal is not just the name of the festival, but an auspicious delicacy as well. Kannadigas call their festive food Habbada Adige and includes items like Bhajji, Mosaru, Palya, Gojju, and so on.

Most Popular Dishes

It is really difficult to pull out only a few dishes from the huge selection of food that South India has to offer. But, Medu Vada, Plain & Masala Dosa, Coconut Chutney, Sambhar, Rassam, and Idli are some of the dishes that have been widely accepted by the people, and for some even represent the complete South Indian cuisine. Payasam, Mysore Pak, and Jigarthanda have also amassed a lot of popularity.

Most Used Ingredients

• Mustard Seeds
• Coconut
• Curry Leaves
• Red Chilies
• Rice
• Tamarind

Traveling Foodie – What to eat when you travel to South India

Street Food

South Indian Cuisine has a lot of items that can be cooked quickly and that is why they have become very popular street food items. So, do try the numerous types of dosas available there. Bhath is also a crowd favorite as is Jigarthanda.

Restaurant Food

Most of the dishes are not easily available in the restaurants because they are only cooked in kitchens at home. But, there are many delicacies like the Hyderabadi Biryani, Beef Fry, Vegetable Stew and more complex and popular dishes that you can try at a restaurant.

South Indian Cuisine is an ocean of options. The ones listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. The food preparations change not only over state boundaries, but a wide variety of foods can be seen within states as well. It is not easy to describe what South Indian cuisine is all about, but the items listed here are a good head start for a journey towards understanding this complex and rich cuisine.

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Are you from South India? Maybe you visited there? Please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts on South Indian ethnic food.

Hina Rana