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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Fisk

Central Asian Food Series: Shashlik

Oh my, this is by far one of my favorite things to eat here in Almaty. It’s typically pretty cheap. BUT, just need to make sure you have enough time to wait for them to grill (basically barbecue) it. Most restaurants that serve it will have a special outdoor grilling area just for shashlik. This is basically like our shish kabab. The word “shashlik” is Turkic for “skewerable”. It is available all over Central Asia and I don’t think that any one country would claim it as “their” traditional food. It’s everywhere!! You can order veggie shashlik, too. My favorite is mushroom. Traditionally meat shashlik was lamb, but we order chicken as well. (I guess some people do beef but we haven’t- harder to cook on skewers) The most popular meat is the one that is cooked with the bone still in because it has a lot of flavor. (not my fav, though). We even order liver shashlik. The sauce says it all. It has a myriad of spices in it (not spicy, just flavorful) and pretty sure the base is mayonnaise. We have had it homemade as well. People here eat and serve shashlik with raw white onions, a tomato-ey sauce, and a thin type bread kind of like a tortilla. Oh, and it is common to serve tomato juice as well. You can even by shashlik spice packets. My Mom took one back to the States to try out because she loved the shashlik here. And those skewers… I mean they are ginormous! (She brought some of those back as well hah)

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