Life & Leisure

Horse meat, a delicacy on the Kazakh table

Kulpash Konyrova

Nur-Sultan, Feb 5 (EFE).- In the vast steppes of Kazakhstan, the horse has historically been not only a noble companion in battle and a means of transport, but also a prized delicacy on the dinner table, a status that has continued for centuries.

Horse meat is popular in the Central Asian country not only in stews, but also in the various types of sausages and cold cuts.


The nation’s star dish, though, is beshbarmak, which in Kazakh means ‘five fingers,’ honoring the ancient tradition of eating by hand, since the use of knives and forks, food lovers say, deprives it of all its charm.

The dish, often shortened to just ‘Besh’ by younger, trendy Kazakhs, consists of slices of horse meat boiled with spices for at least five hours.

The result is tender, juicy meat that melts in your mouth and is accompanied by thin wheat pasta, boiled in the same broth as the meat, which is full of flavour due to its long cooking process.

The dish is served on a large wooden platter with typical Kazakh motifs and, most importantly and following tradition, it should be as generous as possible.

“Kazakhs are the second biggest meat-eaters after? wolves,” is a recurring joke across the country.

The broth, shorpa, is enjoyed as a second course and with a small amount of ayran, a mixture of sheep’s milk yoghurt and water, or kumis, fermented mare’s milk, which gives it a slightly sour taste.

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