I recently spent two weeks on a mission trip in Vienna, Austria working with students who are studying in a theologian degree program with TCMI International Institute. These students come from mostly Eastern European countries to spend some much needed rest time in the Vienna Woods while attending classes towards their degree. We, as short-term workers, are there to take care of their everyday needs such as meals, housekeeping and maintenance of the campus so they may concentrate on their studies.

This year we had 57 students from 11 different countries. One of my greatest joys is to meet these students and learn about their family and their ministries. They are always willing to share traditions and especially food dishes from their native homeland. As I sat at meals with the students, I made a point to ask them which of their country’s traditional dishes they would like me to spotlight on my food blog. It’s a blessing to see their faces light up when they talk about their favorite dish and reminisce about a family member who makes the best one.

So, for the next 11 days I will be spotlighting each of these countries and a traditional dish in honor of these students and their love for their homeland. I encourage you to try some of these dishes and if you like them, do further research on that particular country’s cuisine. You may find a new favorite recipe or two for your family!

Spotlight: Kazakhstan

Dish: Beshbarmak

Beshbarmak is the national dish among nomadic Turkic peoples in Central Asia and Russia. The term Beshbarmak means “five fingers”, because nomads used to eat this dish with their hands. The boiled meat is finely chopped with knives, mixed with boiled noodles, and spiced with onion sauce. It is usually served in a big round dish.

You can see that the definition of this dish is boiled meat and noodles with sauce. This is a general definition because it depends on what type of meat the nomadic people have available to them at the time of preparing this dish. Common meats are lamb, beef or horse. While it’s illegal to eat horse in the U.S., other countries do use it as a source of protein. As many of you know, spices are abundant in the Middle East so there are many variations of spices used in the onion sauce in this dish.


  • 2 pounds meat (lamb/horse/beef) with bones
  • salt
  • flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • vegetable oil


  1. Boil water in a large pot. After it starts boiling, put the meat inside and slowly boil, removing the sediment from the surface. Leave boiling on a low heat for 1 1/2 hours.
  2. In the meantime whisk the egg. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in 1/2 glass of warm water. Add it to the egg, then add 2 glasses of flour and mix it together.
  3. When the dough is ready, roll it until it’s very thin.
  4. Using a sharp knife cut 1.5-2.5 inch thick strips in the dough, then cut across them to create diamond shapes.
  5. Let the dough dry for a bit. You can also put it in the oven for 20 min.
  6. After the dough has dried for a bit, roll it even thinner.
  7. If some of the water from your broth has evaporated, you can add more water, bring it back to the boil and remove the sediment again.
  8. After 1 1/2 hours of boiling the broth, add 3 teaspoons of salt, 2 halves of an onion, 2 halves of a carrot, 3 whole potatoes, 2 whole cloves of garlic and some black pepper to taste. Then keep boiling the broth for 1 more hour.
  9. When the broth is nearly ready, chop onion and garlic, then fry them on a pan.
  10. Put the fried onion and garlic into a small saucepan, add 1 glass of the broth and bring it to the boil on low heat.
  11. Take the meat out and cut it into small pieces, separating it from the bone.
  12. Take out all the vegetables from the broth
  13. After everything is out of the broth, boil your diamond pasta pieces inside.
  14. Meanwhile cut the vegetables into big chunks.
  15. Add some black pepper to your onion and garlic in the small saucepan.
  16. To serve, put the vegetable chunks round the edge of a large platter.
  17. When the pasta is soft, scoop up the sediment for the last time, then take out the pasta and place it in the middle of the platter.
  18. Place the meat on top of the pasta, then pour the soup with onion from the little saucepan on top
  19. Pour the broth into bowls to accompany your meal. Eat beshbarmak with your hands by wrapping meat pieces into the pasta sheets.

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