Tatar Cuisine Food of Kazan

Kystyby



This dish presents a verbal tongue twister for a foreigner when trying to pronounce its name. It is a delicate stuffed flatbread folded in the form of a soft half-moon. It is an old recipe that comes from the forests, fields and archaeological burial mounds of the mid-Volga region. Unleavened flatbreads are baked on a dry pan, greased with melted butter and then stuffed with millet porridge or mashed potatoes.

Try it at the Tatar Estate Restaurant.

Echpochmak

Echpochmak, or “triangle,” is both the alpha and omega of Tatar cuisine. This is the first food you should try to get acquainted with in the region. It is a very simple pastry at first glance: yeast, dough, meat, onion, cubed potatoes all formed into pyramid shape and baked in the oven.

It is an art to get the dough just right so that the triangles have a crunchy crust despite the juicy stuffing inside. Old Tatar women will tell you that an Echpochmak must be cooked with love and this is why you shouldn’t eat them in a restaurant.

A classic Echpochmak is heavy weighted, aromatic and hot and stays warm inside for several hours. The triangles are stuffed with different kinds of meat, the best combinations being beef and duck as well as mutton and goose. When the pastries are almost ready, a drop of thick broth and a piece of butter are added through a special hole on the top to enhance the flavour of the stuffing.

Where can you eat these? Ideally with a Tatar family. Alternatively you may book a table at The House of Tatar Culinary Art. Their Echpochmaks are as close to what an old Tatar woman would cook at home.

Kazylyk



Kazylyk is a very thinly sliced air-dried horse sausage prepared with meat, salt, pepper, and then a two month period of aging in a cool place. Tatars inherited this recipe from the Golden Horde (Mongolians), Eurasia’s most restless people, who came to the Volga region in the 13th century.

Where to eat: it is hard to mess up a Kazylyk, so order it in any restaurant, food store or market place.

Kaklagan kaz (air-dried goose)

If Kazan had a gastronomic coat of arms, it would feature an air-dried goose against a background with a golden triangle of Echpochmak. Kaklagan kaz is as symbolic to Tatarstan as Jamon is to Spain. The best places to get the type of goose used for this dish is from the villages of Imenkovo or Kulbash.

The most important factor in raising a tasty goose is the diet. Geese should be fed millet, barley and sugar beets. The process of drying is an ancient one, and while simple, it demands time and patience. The goose is gutted, rubbed with salt, wrapped in wax paper and hung for 3–4 months in a cool place where there is no direct sun or wind. During that time the goose absorbs aromas and healthy fats. The colour of the meat becomes dark red, similar to the colour of Spanish ham and the taste becomes refined with a sweet and salty taste to it.

Where can you try this food? In restaurants or at a market place. It is also worth going to the new Kazan shopping centre where farmers sell their homemade products.

Zur-belish with goose



Belish is a small pastry. Zur-belish is a large pie. Combine zur-belish with goose and you ahve a true feast. This kind of pie is usually prepared only for family celebrations and very special guests.

A round and well baked closed pastry the size and form of a giant soup bowl spreads the heat around while being baked in the oven. Belishes are made of unfermented dough, because regular yeast dough won’t survive the intense heat required for its preparation. Goose meat, with giblets, potatoes and onions are stewed inside the pastry.

Little spice is used in Tatar cuisine. This is due to historical habits borrowed from the nomads using a policy of “zero kilometre food”: this is when food is cooked only from products that can be sourced in the closest neighbourhood to the kitchen. Sounds like the 'Slow Food' movement of old!!

Where can you eat this dish? At a local home or at a food fair in Kazan. Check the calendar of events at gokazan.ru to see what’s on offer.

Talkysh kaleve



BakhetleTatarstan was once a transit centre of cultures, knowledge and the recipes from the east, west, north and south. Kazan was a major stop on the Great Highway, one of the major tea trade route stretching from China to Europe. Therefore, it is unsurprising that tea drinking in Kazan is not just a tradition, but also takes on philosophical elements, such as how to drink, with whom, and most importantly, with what.

One of the most delicious and complex Tatar deserts is Talkysh Kaleve. This Turkish recipe was brought to Kazan in the 19th century by the Tatar Borkhan, an ancestor of the Saifullin family. In the 1990s Niyaz Saifullin started producing Talkysh Kaleve on a mass scale, a sugary empire that has no competitors because of the complexity of the process.

Two experienced masters stretch the honey and sugar candy mixture and transform it into white fragile threads until this hot mass turns into a web of threads. The web is powdered with a mixture of melted butter and flour so that the threads don't stick to each other and immediately form miniature cones while the mixture still has the right temperature. This is a work of art for discriminating sweet-toothed foodies.

Where can yuo eat this? At Tatar restaurants or the chain store Bakhetle.