Turkmen cuisine is varied, and includes both meat dishes and soups, and as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables. Bread is a must for every meal. A piece of fresh Turkmen flat round bread, churek, baked at home in clay ovens, is delicious in combination with any meal or snack.
Most cafes and restaurants cook up a combination of Turkmen and Russian dishes, and offer a large list of salads and side dishes (rice, fried potatoes, pasta, and mashed potatoes). None of the dishes are heavy on spices, but herbs such as parsley, coriander, basil and dill are frequently added.
Russian dishes usually found on menus include:
- Pelmeniye (bouillon with meatballs in dough)
- Borsh (red beet and cabbage soup)
- Schnitzel (usually chicken, beef or pork)
- Cutlets (usually minced beef)
Turkmen dishes are similar to those found in other Central Asian countries, such as plov (rice dish), shashlik (BBQ from cubes of meat), kebab (minced meat BBQ), manty (steamed pies filled with meat), somsa (pies filled with meat or potatoes), lagman (noodle soup) and shorpa (soup with potato and carrot).
Typical for Turkmenistan are:
- Peshme (sweet deep fried flour-based snacks)
- Merchmek (lentil soup)
- Unash (noodle soup)
- Dograma (small chopped pieces of mutton, raw onion and bread crumbs, in bouillon)
- Qu’urma (lamb, cooked in its own fat)
- Ichlekli (meat and onion pies cooked in hot sand)
- Gutap (small pies filled with meat, potato, pumpkin or spinach)
Turkmenistan also produces its own fruit juices, wine (white and red), beer, cognac and vodka.
Lunch and dinner menus are largely identical, whereas breakfast usually consists of tea or Nescafe, and a selection of the following: fruit, yogurt, bread, pancake, jam, cheese, sausage, and egg. Those in need of real ground coffee will have to bring their own coffee and coffee maker.