06 January 2006

Besh Barmak

Besh Barmak is often said to be the Kyrgyz national dish (although I believe the Kazakhs claim it too). We tried it in a relatively nice restaurant one time and weren't particularly impressed, but we have discovered that it is essential that Kyrgyz food is prepared by the right person. So I'm certainly not going to say that besh barmak isn't good. I just haven't eaten it in the right place yet (but a collection of meat, onions, and noodles really doesn't have much hope). I love to read this recipe though. How often do you see something that calls for a sheep? I don't even want to know what to do with a sheep if I had one. If you want to try this in true Kyrgyz style, don't throw away any fat from the meat.

1 medium sheep or 3 kilograms of mutton or beef
1 kilogram onions
4 cups of flour
1 egg

Put the meat in a large pot along with onions and boil for two hours. While the meat is cooking prepare the noodles (store bought noodles can be substituted). Make a pile with the flour. Beat the egg and add it to the flour, then mix in warm salt water (1-2 teaspoon salt) until it holds together but is not so sticky. Knead well and then let stand for 10 minutes. When meat is done it is removed from the water and the noodles are then boiled in the same water to give the noodles a meaty flavor - noodles only need to cook for 5 minutes or less.

Besh barmak is usually the dish that is made for special celebrations such as weddings, special visitors, or a housewarming. It is usually the final dish of a three-course meal. Guests will wash their hands before the besh barmak is served. The meat is brought out first. The guests eat some of the meat and the host and a few guests chop most of the meat into small pieces. The noodles are then brought in and mixed with the meat and some of the broth is added as well to make a thick stew of meat and noodles. The guests then eat this mixture out of a large bowl using their fingers as utensils - hence the name besh barmak - or "five fingers."


  1. Simple yet tasty fare. I sometimes wish it weren't so polite to use utensils here. Part of the eating with your hands thing is the sensory part of a meal. I can only imagine that the world would be better off by eating sweets with their hands. There would be only so much sticky one could handle!

    Thanks for the recipe. As I have no sheep, I guess a pound or two of lamb will have to suffice!

  2. I love besh barmak, and I really miss. yeah there' little bit fat so what? I tell you it much better than fast food. more natural :)
    so just try it and you will like it, if not ... sorry no food that can be perfect for everyone :)