Food in Turkmenistan is similar to other Central Asian cuisines, mainly consisting of meat, rice, veggies, and bread. From its juicy meat dishes to its simplest flavorful bread, Turkmenistan food is known for its strength-boosting and nourishing meals
Lying in the heart of Central Asian countries, Turkmenistan has a mixture of flavors from its surrounding countries, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and even Afghanistan. So, it won’t be wrong to say that Turkmen cuisine is one of the most flavorful cuisines of Central Asia that you’re all missing out on!
Turkmen food isn’t only a meal, but it’s a whole journey through their culture.
What’s Special About Turkmenistan Food?
The rich flavors of Middle East cuisine also influence Turkmenistan food. Locals are known for using salt and black pepper in dishes, typically cooked in cottonseed oil.
However, rather than overloading with spices or seasonings, Turkmen cuisine keeps it simple and healthy. You can find more than 15 kinds of soup or chorba full of meat and vegetables that you can eat with bread or naan.
Rice, meat, and vegetables are the typical highlights of many Turkmen dishes. Most food is steamed, boiled, and fried. So, you can also enjoy the food of Turkmenistan as your comfort flavor-packed food!
Most Famous Food In Turkmenistan
Palaw or Pilaf (Rice Dish)
Palaw is one of Turkmenistan’s most famous foods, consisting of boiled rice cooked in seasoned broth with meat and spices. The main ingredients to make Palaw are lamb meat, rice, and spices. You can also add vegetables like carrots and sliced onions to make it extra flavorful.
One of the interesting facts about Turkmenistan is that Palaw is not just common for family dinners, but it’s also an essential dish for special celebrations. That’s why this dish is called “king” in Turkmen cuisine.
This aromatic dish is carefully made by layering the ingredients and then cooking them together. It results in a savory single-bowl meal with perfectly cooked rice and meat.
Traditional Turkmenistan Foods
Manti (Steamed Dumplings)
Manti is one of the most traditional Turkmen foods found across neighboring countries like Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. It is a type of dish that’s popular among Chinese Muslims and Asians.
Manti consists of spicy ground beef or lamb and onions wrapped inside a whole-grain dough, which can be boiled and steamed. If you’re not a fan of boiled and steamed dough, you can even fry it to make it crispy and elevate its flavors!
The dish is typically served with a simple yogurt sauce in which you can dip and enjoy Manti’s tender and juicy taste.
Dograma (Thin Crepes)
Turkmenistan is famous for its comfort food, Dograma, which is rare to find in other Asian cuisines. This original and vintage food of Turkmenistan holds a long history that dates back to the era of sacrificial rituals.
This dish gets prepared for special events like weddings and Kurban Bayrami, a sacrificial religious holiday. Dograma consists of a thin rolled dough cooked with meat and vegetables like onions and potatoes. The dough layers are stacked, and you can bake or cook the dough until it’s crispy to your liking.
Unash (Vegetable Stew)
Unash is also one of the most traditional Turkmenistan foods, consisting of soup cooked with beans and hand-made noodles. This nourishing dish will warm your coldest nights and is the perfect dish to strengthen your immune system. In Turkmenistan, people eat Unash as a remedy to recover from the flu and cold.
To make Unash, you only need some vegetables and a blend of spices like salt and red pepper by simmering them in a flavorful broth (soup base). It is simple to make yet still extremely heartwarming to savor.
There are many other variations of Unash where you can include diced meat into the stew to give it a hearty nature.
Shashlik (Skewered Grilled Meat)
Shashlik is the type of dish that’s not only popular in Turkmenistan but all other Soviet Union countries! What makes Shashlik so unique? Well, It’s desert wood. The smell of the burning wood gets absorbed into the meat, giving it a deeper taste.
You can easily find Shashlik in Turkmenistan and maybe even in your home country at a desi restaurant with Middle Eastern cuisine. It consists of chopped meat pieces on skewers that chefs grill to a mouthwatering perfection.
Shashlik is a typical barbecued food of Turkmenistan; while it sounds similar to many skewered meat in other cuisines, make sure to give it a try when you get the chance.
Gutap (Pastry Pockets)
What is Turkmenistani food without Gutap? Gutap consists of crispy pastry on the outside and savory on the inside. It is a famous street food and also a part of traditional Turkmenistan cuisine.
If you’re traveling in Turkmenistan’s bazaars, you can find Gutaps at different stalls around you! That is how prominent it is to the local scene.
Gutap usually consists of meat, spinach, and pumpkin with finely chopped onions seasoned with salt and pepper. You can put the fillings inside the pastry pockets, which then get cooked on a flat pan with a bit of oil to make it crispy and warm! Gutap can be eaten and served with different soups like Unash for a tasty meal!
Vegetarian Food In Turkmenistan
Mushroom Beshbarmak (Noodle Stew with Vegetables)
Turkmenistan cuisine serves vegetarian versions of Mushroom Beshbarmak, which is good news for Vegetarians. It initially consists of mutton or horse meat, but by adding vegan sausage, you can fit into the Turkmenistani world! It is a noodle stew recipe with mushrooms, potatoes, and vegan sausage to serve as a local comfort food for Vegetarians.
This plant-based dish is served while it’s hot and is the adaptation of the classic Turkmenistani dish, offering a delicious meal for the explorers. Indeed, it’s a wonderful way to embrace the country’s flavors while staying true to being a vegetarian.
Spinach Manti (Spinach Dumplings)
Dumplings are a staple all around the world but have you ever heard of “Spinach Dumplings”? Well, Turkmenistan has a variety of dumplings that you can enjoy! It is a fantastic way for vegetarians to experience the flavors of Turkmenistan.
While meat is the typical filling for dumplings, vegetarians can keep a lookout for spinach dumplings which are rather common as well. Rich in iron and nutrients, these are a healthy variation of manti!
Gozleme (Cheese/Spinach Filled Flatbread)
Aside from Spinach Manti, Gozleme with cheese and spinach is also an absolute delight. They are typically sold by street vendors and bakeries in Turkmenistan.
Gozleme is a thin flatbread that can be prepared by rolling the dough into large yet thin sheets. These sheets are filled with a variety of ingredients of your choice!
If you’re more of a cheese fan, you can even get ones with just cheese filling; and if you’re just down for spinach, you can probably find that too!
Turkmenistan Food – Soups
Chorba (Boiled Meat Broth)
Chorba is boiled meat broth in which you can add potatoes and other vegetables like tomatoes, fried onions, carrots, bay leaves, and flour! It’s a nourishing soup with tons of vitamins and protein from the meat You can find it locally around Turkmenistan, and people eat Chorba many times a week.
It’s a comforting dish that is best served while it’s hot. You can enjoy it with bread to fill your stomach. Chorba is a common dish in Turkmenistan that is consumed on a daily basis!
Chorba Mash (Mung Bean Soup)
Chorba Mash is also known as Mung Bean Soup but with a little twist of vegetables! It’s a go-to soup recipe for all Turkmen since it’s effortless. All you need to do is add rice and vegetables like onions or tomatoes to the broth and boil them until they’re soft.
Chorba Mash is not only enjoyed in Turkmenistan and other Central Asian countries like India and China. Mung Beans are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, so it’s a healthy dish to incorporate into the daily diet.
Nohudii Chobra (Chickpea Soup With Lamb)
Turkmen people love meat and vegetables equally. Nohudii Chobra is a dish where you can experience the savory taste of lamb along with Chickpeas! It consists of lamb, cut and cooked in water, along with tender chickpeas. Add peppers and stewed onions 15-20 minutes before serving Nohudii Chobra.
This Turkmen soup is famous in the local country and other countries like Morocco, Pakistan, and India.
Mastava (Rice & Vegetable Soup)
Turkmenistan’s national soup is Mastava and it is cherished by everyone equally. It is known for its simple yet hearty flavors and is a staple dish in Turkeman cuisine. If you want to warm up your cold nights, you should definitely give Mastava a try!
It consists of pieces of beef in boiled water that gets filtered. After water filtering, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and carrots get seasoned with salt, pepper, and bay leaves. You can serve Mastava with sour cream and fennel.
Street Food Of Turkmenistan
Samsa (Meat Filled Pastries)
Samsa is a typical street food of Turkmenistan, which consists of meat-filled pastries that get the attention of locals. Samsa is also filled with potatoes, onions, and even pumpkin. They are often baked in Tandoori ovens that don’t necessarily require any electricity or gas to maintain temperature.
Samsa’s dough has no seasonings, but once baked under high temperature, it’s crisp with warm fillings that will win your heart! So, if you ever go to Turkmenistan, you should try Samsa.
Lagman (Noodle Dish)
Lagman is a noodle dish typically made with beef or lamb, onions, peppers, and spices. You can see street vendors in Turkmenistan selling Lagman. It is a popular Turkmenistan food in other Central Asian countries.
The impressive fact about Lagman is that it’s made with hand-pulled noodles that are thick and chewy with the addition of vegetables in a broth. Street vendors mostly use lamb meat for the preparation of Lagman. The dish is usually flavored with a mixture of various spices like coriander and chili powder, making it hot!
Snacks And Desserts In Turkmenistan Food
Pishme (Crispy Dough)
Pishme is a traditional snack enjoyed all around Turkmenistan. You can prepare it with yeast dough, which can be fried later on. It is then enjoyed with jam, cheese, green tea, or any other complements of your choice.
Pishme is also one of those neutral Turkmenistan street foods that can be savored salty or sweet. It all depends on what you pair it with!
Overall, it’s definitely one of the easiest snacks to make at home! You can make it playful by creating various shapes of the dough, and after frying, you can even decorate it to your preferences.
Chalapk (Fried Donut)
Chalpak is a type of fried donut that is often sprinkled with powdered sugar. It’s one of the most common and famous snacks in Turkmenistan.
It’s made with a simple dough that is fried until golden brown and crispy, serving as a quick snack. There are various ways to enjoy Chalpak due to its versatility.
You can eat Chalpak as a sweet snack as well as a salty one! Chalpak can be served with various toppings like cheese or meat, giving you plenty of options to savor it. It’s a delicious and affordable snack found throughout Turkmenistan.
Halva (Sesame Sweet)
Halva is one of the traditional sweets of Turkmen people, prepared from Tahini (Sesame paste), nuts, and wheat flour. It is a savory sweet that can be given many flavors through cocoa, rosewater, cardamom, and even nuts! You can create your sweets according to your guests’ liking.
Making Halva with cocoa powder is a perfect option for kids since they’ll consider it as chocolate. For elders, cardamom is the perfect choice, giving halva a strong scent. Indeed, Halva is the perfect sweet to boost your senses and give your brain that sugar rush.
Baklava (Sweet Pastry)
Another widely enjoyed Turkmen food is Baklava. This is a sweet pastry filled with nuts like pistachios, walnuts, and almonds!
Baklava is a popular dessert in Turkey, and it’s sometimes served with ice cream on top of it. It’s a traditional confection of syrup-soaked pastry and nuts made for Navruz, a national holiday celebrated in Turkmenistan.
Baklava is loved in Turkmenistan and other Middle Eastern countries. It’s even gotten international attention, so you can often find them in Middle Eastern restaurants or bakeries in many other countries like the USA, Germany, and Chile. People love this crispy and flaky sweet dessert and Turkmens consider it a royal sweet to serve their guests as well!
Sherbet (Fruit Drinks)
Sherbet is a popular drink in Turkmenistan, which is full of sweet flavors from fruits like plums, cherries, and spices too!
It’s a very refreshing recipe that works the best during summer days. If you’re not a fan of sweet drinks, it can be made sour with a little addition of lemon!
This type of drink is perfect to serve guests and it is healthy enough to make it a part of your everyday life. You can prepare Sherbet by boiling fruits and spices in water until they emit their flavor and the liquid thickens a bit. It is a great choice for combating the summer heat in Turkmenistan.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Discovering Traditional Food In Turkmenistan
The country’s cuisine is influenced by its nomadic past, with a blend of Turkmen, Uzbek, Russian, and Tajik flavors. Turkmen dishes are known for their abundance of meat, rice, bread, dairy products, and vegetables, making it an exciting
From succulent lamb and chicken to herb-filled pastries, and mung bean porridge, Turkmenistan foods reflect the cultural diversity and rich culinary traditions of the region. Each of the dishes has a story and history to tell. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to indulge the irresistible sweet treats like halva and baklava!