Kok Boru: On Spectating and Playing a Dangerous Traditional Sport

As soon as I arrived in Bishkek, I started asking every person I met where I could find, watch, and play kok boru. I first learned about the sport in researching Kygyzstan before I arrived in Bishkek and was instantly fascinated by it. Kok boru is the wild national sport of Kyrgyzstan. It’s basically polo, […]

Kyrgyz Holidays 2023: A Complete Guide

Kyrgyz holidays include many inherited from the USSR (although most of those have changed their form at least slightly). Kyrgyz holidays also include many adopted from Russian culture. However, many holidays have now been added to the calendar to celebrate patriotism toward independent Kyrgyzstan and Kyrgyzstan’s long-held Muslim heritage. Thus, Soviet and federal as well […]

Echpochmak: Tatar Triangular Meat Pie

A symbol of Tatar culture and a pride of that nation, echpochmak is easily one of most recognizable foods from Tatar cuisine. This savory meat pie has its origins in the nomadic days of the Tatars but the crisp outside and juicy meat filling of the pie have guaranteed echpochmak’s timeless popularity. Today, echpochmak is […]

Kyrgyz Independence Day: Student Observations

Kyrgyz Independence Day is celebrated each year on August 31. It marks the date when, in 1991, Kyrgyzstan declared itself an independent republic and left the USSR. One of my fellow classmates at my university back in America, who had studied abroad a year prior, highly recommended attending Independence Day celebrations in Kyrgyzstan, noting that, […]

Sabantuy: A Global Summer Festival Celebrating Tatar Heritage

Sabantuy (Сабантуй) is the traditional Volga (Kazan) Tatar summer festival. It dates back to pre-Islamic, pagan times and originally was a ritual that asked the gods for a plentiful harvest. Today, however, the festival can best be understood as a national Tatar celebration of their culture and traditions. Sabantuy are inclusive, community-building events. In Tatarstan, […]

Kattama, Qatlama: Central Asia’s Swirled Buttery Pastry

Kattama is a traditional Turkic pastry. It is buttery, flaky, layered and fried or baked to perfection! The dough is rolled thin, slathered in butter and other filling, and then layered and folded, creating beautiful flaky layers that are both crisp and soft. It can be found throughout Mongol and Turkic cultures in various forms. […]

Chuchvara, Chuchpara, Tushpara: The Daintier Dumping of Central Asia

Chuchvara is a dumping staple dish in Central Asia, the South Caucasus, and the Middle East. Originally introduced there under the Persian Empire, they are today most associated in Central Asia with Uzbek tradition. However, they are also considered a local national dish throughout the countries of the region. Chuchvara contrast with manti, the other […]

Manti, Pozi, Bauzi: More Than Just Another Dumpling

Manti (манты) are steamed dumplings consisting of ground meat and spices in an unleavened pastry shell. Manti are a popular dish across Central Asia, Pakistan, Northern China, Turkey, and Russia. They are considered native to Central Asia and are now thought to perhaps be the world’s first dumpling. How Manti Got Their Name (Почему они […]

Kuurdak: How The Kyrgyz Do Meat and Potatoes

Kuurdak (куурдак) is a traditional Kyrgyz dish and one of the oldest recipes found in Central Asia. It is eaten throughout Central Asia and particularly beloved as a national dish in Kyrgyzstan. This stewed meat dish is one of the easiest and simplest recipes to make. Traditionally, the meat used is mutton (lamb), horse, and/or […]

Ramadan and Eid in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Ramadan is the Muslim holy month when followers are expected to fast, not drinking or eating from sunrise to sunset. During this month, daily life is molded around the fast. Ramadan ends with Eid al-Fitr, a feast and celebration. Kyrgyzstan is a majority Muslim nation and Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr are major parts of the […]

Baklava: A Sweet Cultural Controversy of Eurasia

Baklava (Баклава), is a delicate pastry served in numerous countries such as Russia, Turkey, and throughout the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucuses, and Central Asia. The recipe for the luxurious dessert typically maintains the same components: honey and nuts placed between layers of pastry. Specific countries over the centuries have added their own specific […]

Eagle Training in Kyrgyzstan: Witnessing a Tradition

SRAS students studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on the Central Asian Studies Porgram often have the opportunity to visit Lake Issyk-Kul as part of their program abroad. This semester, the local excursions into the surrounding mountains included a presentation on local traditions surrounding eagle training. Golden eagles have been used for hunting in Kyrgyzstan for […]

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