Kazakhstani Beshbarmak (Boiled Meat with Noodles)

Kazakhstani Entree

BESHBARMAK
(Boiled Meat with Noodles)

INGREDIENTS

1 small onion (1 more later)
1¼ pounds lamb or beef steak
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon pepper
water to cover steak, about 4 cups
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ cup water (about)
1¼ cups flour (2 more tablespoons later)
2 tablespoons flour
1 medium potato (optional)
1 tablespoon ghee or butter
1 small onion

Serves 4. Takes 2 hours 30 minutes.

PREPARATION

Cut 1 small onion into slices ¼” thick. Add onion slices, steak, bay leaf, pepper, and enough water to cover steak and 1″ more. Bring to boil using high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1½ hours. Stir every 20 minutes. Keep steak covered with water.

While meat simmers, add salt and 1¼ cups flour to large mixing bowl. Mix with fork. Whisk egg in cup. Add egg to mixing bowl. Mix with fork until well blended. Gradually add ½ cup water, as needed, until you get a smooth dough. Mix with hands each time you add water. Knead dough for 5 minutes. Cover dough and let it sit for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle flat surface with 2 tablespoons flour. Divide dough into 2 dough balls. Roll out a dough ball on flat surface until it is about ⅛” thick. Cut flatten dough into 3″ squares. Repeat for each dough ball.

When meat has been simmering for 1½ hours, cut potato into ½” cubes. Add potato to pot. Simmer on low for 35 minutes or until meat and potato are tender to the fork. Keep potato and steak covered with water. Remove simmered onion and potato and set aside on 2 different plates. Cover to keep warm. Keep broth in pot.

While steak still simmers, cut 1 small onion into slices ¼” thick. Add onion slices and ghee to pan. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Remove sautéed onion slices from heat.

Divide broth into 2 pots. (This will speed things up and keep meat and potato from getting cold.) Bring broth to boil using high heat. Add ¼ of the dough squares each to the 2 pots. (Add squares one at time to prevent sticking. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 4 minutes. Remove dough squares with slotted spoon. Repeat for remaining 2 portions of dough squares.

While dough square boil, cut steak into 1″ cubes. Cover again to keep warm. Remove bay leaf. Divide pasta squares between 4 plates. Top pasta squares with meat cubes. Top meat with simmered onion slices and potato cubes. Garnish with sautéed-onion slices. Spoon remaining broth over sautéed onion. Serve immediately.

TIDBITS

1) This dish, Beshbarmak, is undeniably tasty. This is why some many Kazakhstanis eat it so often.

2) However, take a look at the picture at the above picture. The tablecloth depicts, among other things, an oversized pineapple.

3) This is because all Kazakhstanis love pineapple. I mean, who doesn’t it?

4) But the inhabit of Kazakhstan really, really love the pineapple.

5) Whence sprang this deep and abiding taste?

6) From Genghis Khan.

7) Here how it started. It’s remarkable that we all the words in the following conversation.

8) Genghis Khan: Yo ho, Beshbarmak tastes great, but I really have a yearning for something sour and tart.

Kublai: And something with lots of Vitamin C to ward off colds. I do so hate the sniffles.

Subotai: How do you know about Vitamin C?

Kublai: I went to a fortune teller. She told me that 1,000 years from now, people would be eating pineapples to fight off sniffles.

Genghis: Well, there’s nothing more useless than a sniffling warrior. By heavens, we’ll get us some pineapples even if we have to destroy entire civilizations to do so.

All the Mongols: Yay! Yay!

9) But pineapples, back then, grew only in Brazil. So the Mongols conquered their way ever westward, stopped only in Hungary when their pineapple-lacking army came down with sniffles.

10) But in return for widespread destruction of Kazakhstan, the Mongols gave the locals the recipe for Beshbarmak. So, some good came out of the invasion. The Mongols also passed on their hunger for pineapples. Hence, the frequent pineapple imagery seen in Kazakhstan.

 

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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