Several months ago my friends invited me over for a cooking class. I was excited to learn how to prepare traditional Kazakh dishes!
Since moving from New York I cook and bake often. I really enjoy it! I’ve honed my skills, as food preparation in Kazakhstan for anything other than a local dish tests one’s creativity and ability to improvise. Many ingredients are often not available.
For my cooking class we prepared traditional Kazakh foods so the shopping was easy and lucky for me, I didn’t have to do any of it. I also had no input on the menu, which adds to the experience, but can be a bit risky. And it happened… it was just my luck that two out of the three dishes we made consisted of a freshly delivered horse. Yay! When it comes to meat consumption, Kazakhs only take what they need and waste nothing. They consume everything. It’s something I respect and fundamentally believe in, but horsemeat and horse organs just don’t go down easy for me.
We prepared a horse liver salad, manti (мәнті in Kazakh), and cake (торт in Russian). Manti are steamed dumplings, usually consisting of a meat mixture filling, and topped with herbs and sautéed onions. In our case the filling was horsemeat, onions, herbs and spices. The salad was boiled liver, onions and pickles. The cake was milk and cheese based.
The salad and cake were definitely one-timers. And while preparing manti is a tedious and time consuming process starting with the dough preparation, I’ll definitely make them again. I mastered how to fold them, making individual mini sealed packages so they don’t fall apart when steamed. One thing is for sure though – I’m changing up the filling to vegetables (probably pumpkin), herbs and spices!