Dograma is the most traditional Turkmen dish of all and is reserved for special
occasions such as traditional events, ritual dinners.
The name of the dish comes from the word dogramak (to cut to pieces) and
refers to the making of dograma. You begin with baking multiple flatbreads in a
tamdyr (clay oven) and boiling fresh mutton in a large cauldron until the meat is
tender enough to fall off the bones. The bread is then torn into small pieces – a
task that usually involves the entire family – and mixed with slices of onion and
shredded meat. Finally, dograma is scooped into a bowl and covered with the
hot broth for each guest to enjoy.
Unash is a noodle soup that has been enjoyed by Turkmens since ancient times.
As soon as you mention you have a cold, you will quickly be asked if you have
eaten ‘spicy unash’. Although this noodle soup is cooked in every season and
enjoyed as a light meal, it continues to be one of the main meals commonly
consumed in the winter months because of its cold-curing powers.
Gowurdak is mutton or beef that has been fried and preserved in its own
rendered fat. In ancestral times gowurdak was stored in ceramic pots or stuffed
into a sheep's stomach. When choosing a sheep from a shepherd's flock or in a
bazaar, a Turkmen would first look at a sheep's tail and finally buy the sheep that
could "fry itself“, meaning the sheep had enough fat to fry its meat. Animal fat –
an essential ingredient in gowurdak – is cooked until it melts, leaving a by-product
known as cracklings – jigirdek in Turkmen. Cracklings, like gowurdak, are eaten
with bread or baked into bread.
Ishlekli is a traditional dish that has been passed down through the generations.
Since Shepherds lived in the harsh desert environment following their flocks of
sheep they devised a way of cooking in the sand, meaning that no cooking
utensils had to be carried around. Once the pie was made it was placed directly
in the bottom of a fire pit made in the sand dunes and then covered over with
sand. The thick bottom crust of the pie acted as a bowl for the rich meat filling and
the lid of the pie was used as a spoon for eating. This meat pie is still enjoyed
across Turkmenistan today, and even without the excitement of cooking out in the
wilderness, it is a dish that is sure to delight!
Gutap is a half-moon-shaped, savory turnover that is usually eaten for lunch or
dinner. A typical gutap filling is beef or lamb but vegetarian fillings such as spinach
or butternut squash are popular as well. You can cook these on a griddle, bake
them in the oven or deep-fry them in oil. The deep-fried version, ýagly gutap, is
one of the most popular Turkmen street foods and is often sold in bazaars and
outside schools and workplaces.
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