Beautiful wild landscapes and exceptional hospitality. welcome to Kyrgyzstan for the recipe of djarkope!
Djarkope is a traditional Kyrgyz stew prepared with lamb (or mutton) and various vegetables, well seasoned with black pepper, hot pepper and herbs.
To understand all the delights of Kyrgyz national cuisine, one must first know its people, their customs and their traditions.
Kyrgyzstan is a multi-ethnic state formed not only by the Kyrgyz, but also by the Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, Ukrainians and Germans. There are also small communities of Uyghurs, Duncans (Chinese of Muslim beliefs) and Koreans deported there during the period of Stalinism. More than 80 ethnic groups live in the country.
The peoples of Central Asia, with a few exceptions, have a nomadic tradition, which is also reflected in the gastronomic culture. The importance of meat in Central Asian cuisine should not surprise us.
Kyrgyz cuisine is characterized by its great simplicity. Here are some of the popular specialties:
– The national dish is plov, and it is popular throughout Central Asia. It consists in stir-fried rice with mutton, carrots and local variations depending on the country (garlic, chickpeas, raisins…)
– The specialty of the nomads is beshbarmak. Beshbarmak, which means “five fingers”, is a traditional dish that is eaten with the fingers. The dish is prepared with horse meat, potatoes, onions and large pasta. Kyrgyz people like to serve it on big holidays or for prestige guests.
– In the streets, you can enjoy shashlik or kebabs: skewers of mutton or beef and fat accompanied by onions and white vinegar.
– Mantys are very popular in Kyrgyzstan: they are large ravioli stuffed with meat, onions and fat, which are steamed or, more rarely fried, similar to Chinese jiaozi.
– Laghmans are noodles with vegetables and meat. They are eaten in soup or, more rarely sautéed.
– Samsas are meat fritters that are common throughout Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan, they are also stuffed with cheese.
– In the east of the country, on the border with China, you can find a dungan specialty called ashlyanfu, which are gelatinous pasta seasoned with herbs and chili that are eaten in soup.
– Olovo is a special dish. It consists in mutton lungs slowly cooked in milk with spices, salt and oil. It is usually served to respected guests.
In all the cuisines around the world, you will always find unusual specialties that are more or less appetizing. This is the case for Kyrgyz cuisine with qurut and …. sheep’s eye:
– Qurut are small squares of very hard cheese made from curdled milk. Their taste is quite strong. The Kyrgyz people are crazy about it and eat them like squares of chocolate.
– Sheep’s eye is definitely worth a try. You will be asked to swallow it without chewing it so that it can be broken down in your stomach, thus delivering all its virtues. Sheep’s eye can also be cut into small pieces to be served.
And finally, there is the djarkope!
You probably figured by now that if you want to eat well in that part of the world, you must love meat and especially sheep or other member of the sheep family.
The term “wether” (sheep) may refer to either the species or a castrated male raised for butchery. The non-castrated male sheep is called the ram (having already had a lamb) and the female is called the ewe.
Yearling lamb is a term that designate a beast that is between twelve and twenty four months old.
There is also the milk-fed lamb . It is a young lamb meat, tender, light in color (pink), with a very mild but tasty aroma. He is fed on his mother’s milk. Their diet is essentially milky and therefore low in iron (no grass), which explains their pink and tasty meat. Milk-fed lamb is slaughtered at a very young age (about 1 month) at about 30 lb live weight.
In Kyrgyzstan, at the butcher, ram’s heads always appear in the window! Although they may seem scary, their use in cooking is quite common in the area. According to ancient customs, the head of a young ram is first served to the most respected people.
The sheep is one of the first animals to have been domesticated by man and it is especially appreciated for its milk and its production of cheeses, its meat, its skin (leather) and its wool.
Sheep are raised all over the world and have played a central role in many civilizations. Currently, Australia, New Zealand, Patagonia and the United Kingdom are the main regions devoted to this breeding.
The piece of sheep to choose depends on the preparation you want to make. Here are some tips for choosing the pieces and for their cooking time.
– To roast: the leg, or the shoulder,
– To grill: the chops,
– To prepare skewers: breast, shoulder or neck,
– To braise, sauté or boil: the neck, breast or shoulder.
Some offal is also sought after, such as tripe, for example.
Before calculating the cooking time of the mutton in the oven or pot, it is essential to know its weight.
Leg should be served a little more rare. To cook it well, you need at least 8 to 10 minutes of cooking per pound. The leg is mostly cooked in the oven.
For the shoulder, the same cooking time is necessary.
The chops are cooked both in the pan or on a barbecue. If you grill them in the pan, allow 4 to 5 minutes per side. For grilled lamb chops, count on average 10 to 15 minutes.
Stew meat, such as neck or shoulder, requires a minimum of 2 hours of cooking time on high heat.
The cooking time for lamb, which is much softer than the mutton because of its young age, will be slightly reduced by 5 to 10 minutes per piece.
On the other hand, for lamb or milk-fed lamb stew or oven-cooked, it is necessary to cook the meat somewhat rare. You must therefore cook the meat for about 1h30 on low heat.
Djarkope is absolutely delicious and spiced to perfection!
Djarkope is a traditional lamb stew with sweet notes from Kyrgyzstan.
- 2 lb boneless lamb shoulder
- 1 lb scallions , sliced
- 6 cloves garlic , crushed
- 4 carrots , sliced
- 4 potatoes , cut into chunks
- 2 tomatoes , peeled, seeded and diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 fennel , thinly sliced lengthwise and crosswise
- ½ bunch cilantro
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 1 cup boiling water
Cut the lamb into pieces of about ½ oz.
- Brown meat in hot oil over high heat (meat should be roasted)
- Reduce heat to medium temperature.
- Add carrots, onions, tomatoes, tomato paste, chili and pepper.
- Mix well. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the potatoes, garlic, cilantro, boiling water and salt.
- Bring to boil.
- Cook 10 minutes over medium heat and 40 minutes over low heat.
- Five minutes before the end of the cooking, add the fennel slices.
- If necessary, increase the temperature to reduce the liquid after cooking.