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Nomad Tours in Kyrgyzstan: Cooking & Cultural Traditions

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Published on Feb 19, 2014

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During a tour of nomadic Kyrgyzstan, you'll notice that traditional nomadic dinners are not merely about cooking and serving good food, but are also linked with cultural traditions.

During a celebration in which neighbors and guests are invited to share a meal in someone's yurt, the host often lays borsok (fried dough) out as a snack or appetizer before bringing out the meat. Other foods the host may present could include homemade jam, cream, small candies, or a healthy salad of cucumbers and tomatoes to name a few. When a sheep is prepared and brought out for the meal, each portion of the sheep has certain significance. The eldest in the group and guests of honor are shown respect by being presented with certain/the best cuts of meat. The more honor is due; the better cuts of meat are given. This video details how you may see meat divvied up and served to different guests during your own nomadic travels.

One tradition during a holiday celebration or party is for the men to take cuts of meat, shave the meat with their knives and add it to a streaming, fresh pile of noodles. The dish is then passed around and can be eaten with the guests' fingers. This dish is called besh barmak and literally means "five fingers." It is one of the most famous traditional Kyrgyz dinners.
During your nomadic travels, realize that nomads in Kyrgyzstan are largely muslim and as such, incorporate two different things into their meals. First of all, halal meat is served. Halal food has been killed and prepared according to Islamic standards. This includes killing the animal swiftly and draining all the blood from the body. Besides serving halal meat, another tradition muslims in Kyrgyzstan practice is to say an "amen" after the meal. After the meal has been concluded, a prayer is said by holding uplifted hands in front of the body as if trying to cup water in them. Then, they bring their hands over their face as if washing their face with water they held in their hands. No one can leave until the amen has been said. On their way out, guests are usually given extra food to take home that can be eaten later as a snack or another meal.

When you're planning a nomadic tour around Central Asia and find yourself wanting to enjoy an ecotour, healthy meals, and experience nomadic traditions while traveling on a budget, then Kyrgyzstan is the perfect place for your journey.

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