The national dish of Tajikistan is Qurutob. Why not make this Lamb with Fatir bread and yogurt sauce on September 9 when Tajikistan celebrates their independence day. Here’s what our country chef Florian says about the national dish of Tajikistan:
Tajikistan claims mainly two national dishes: plov (aka osh), and qurutob. While plov is more famous and is also the national dish of neighboring Uzbekistan, qurutob is specifically Tajik. Qurutob is served with Fatir which is a flatbread made of a very rustic puff-pastry-like dough. Don’t be surprised if it turns out stodgy and a bit dry: that’s what it’s supposed to be like! It will taste much better when it soaks up the yogurt sauce. The latter is prepared with the qurut. Accept no substitute; these are small balls of dried salted yogurt. By baking yogurt in the oven, you can make a quick version that’s pretty close to the real deal. Finally, the roasted lamb is optional: I’ve seen restaurants serving both vegetarian and meat versions.
Recipe: The national dish of Tajikistan - Qurutob
- 200 g wheat flour 7 oz
- 70 ml water
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 70 g butter
- ½ tsp sesame seeds
Roasted Lamb Shank
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp coriander
- 1 pinch chili powder
- 620 g lamb shank
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 450 g tomatoes 1 pound
- 2 onions
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 60 ml water
- 2 tsp fresh parsley
- 2 tsp fresh basil
- 500 ml yoghurt 15 fl oz
- ½ tsp salt
- Place the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment. While mixing on medium speed, add the water, then the egg, and mixing for 1 minute.
- Shape the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 30 minutes.
- Place a baking dish full of water in an oven set to 230°C (450°F).
- On a floured surface, roll the dough to a rectangle. Cut it lengthwise into two long strips.
- Spread the butter on the dough. Roll the first strip into a cylinder, then place it on the second strip and roll the whole into a thicker cylinder. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Place the unwrapped cylinder of dough vertically on a floured surface. Using the palm of your hand, flatten the dough progressively to a 1½ cm (½") thick, 18 cm (7") diameter disc. While doing this, sprinkle the top generously with flour, and flip the dough frequently — otherwise your dough will be stuck to the counter in a puddle of grease!
- Prick the flatbread with a fork to create a decorative pattern, then sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and gently press with the palm of your hand to encrust the seeds in the dough.
- Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack, and reserve.
Roasted lamb shank
- Mix the salt, cumin, coriander, and chili pepper in a container. Season the lamb shank with the spice mixture on all sides.
- In an oven-proof pan over high heat, sauté the meat in the oil until brown on all sides.
- Add the tomatoes, cover with a lid, and cook in a 150°C (300°F) oven for 2 ½ hours. Start working on the Qurut
- Remove the lid, and cook for another 30 minutes, flipping the shank halfway through. Take out of the oven, and let rest 10 minutes.
- Pick the meat from the bones, trying to keep it in large chunks. Remove the skin from the tomatoes. Transfer the cooking liquid to a plastic container. Reserve.
- Pour the yogurt into a baking dish, and cook in a 150°C (300°F) oven for 1 ½ hours, without disturbing it.
- Pass the yogurt through a chinois, gently pressing with a spatula to extract more whey. Discard the liquid. Mix the solids with the salt, return to the baking dish, and cook for another 30 minutes.
- Remove the yogurt solids from the dish and reserve it in a container
- Finely slice the onion
- In a pan over medium heat, sauté the onions with the olive oil. Season with salt, and cook until golden brown, stirring regularly.
- Crumble the qurut balls into the pan, add the lamb cooking liquid and the water, then simmer for a couple minutes, stirring constantly. The amount of water you need to add may depend on the texture of your sauce. You want a sauce that's pretty thick and lumpy, but still liquid.
- Tear the fatir into small pieces (~3 cm squares), and toss into the pan.
- Transfer to a ceramic dish, and arrange the meat and tomatoes on top. If necessary, reheat in a 150°C (300°F) F oven for 5 minutes.
- Top with the coarsely chopped parsley and basil (chiffonade). Eat with your fingers.
About the Country Chef
Florian Pinel was born in France and now lives in New York. He works as a computer science researcher during the week (IBM Chef Watson), and cooks in his spare time. He’s been traveling to Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union regularly since his early teens. His blog, foodperestroika.com, gathers recipes, travel stories, and other food writings about the Eastern Bloc. Read more about IngredientMatcher’s Country Chefs in the Foodie section Read more about national dishes and the ebook “National Dishes From Around The World” Read more about other national dish recipes published on this blog