One of the cultural classes we have done with SRAS is a cooking class. In the cooking class we were taught how to make Lagman, one of the main dishes of the shepherding cultures of Central Asia. It is a good, filling, and simple dish perfect for life in the mountains or for a lunch that will keep you going around Bishkek for hours!
The ingredients can be separated into two main sections, the noodles and the sauce.
The noodles we made fresh from flour, water, and cooking oil (we used sunflower). The sauce can contain just about anything including thin strips of meat (usually sheep or beef), vegetables (we used diced peppers, onions, garlic, and cabbage), and spices (we used cumin and salt). For specific information on proportions, etc. check out this article on the SRAS site.
Here is what we experienced as part of our culture class!
The first step for making lagman is to prepare the noodles. You mix the flour and water into a thick dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour. During that hour, the meat and vegetables can be prepped for cooking.
After the hour has passed you take the dough out, separate the dough into small balls and roll them out into strings about as big around as your pinky. We then let them rest under wax paper with some oil brushed on them for about 10 minutes while we cut some more vegetables.
After having let the noodles rest, we rolled them into even longer and thinner noodles so that they ended up being about half of a pinky in thickness, or less, and wrapped the noodles around our hands to keep it stretched out. The noodles are ready to be boiled then which our chef-teacher did for us and it did not seem to take very long for the noodles to be cooked.
The noodles are boiled and removed from water and another pan is set on high heat, after the pan has been pre-heated well enough for a droplet of water to sizzle on the pan, the strips of meat are tossed in with oil and cooked most of the way and then removed from the pan. The vegetables are added immediately after followed by the cooked noodles and meat. Once the flavors have had some time to meld together, the spices are added and everything is left to cook until the vegetables are cooked al dente. They are supposed to still have some crunch to them when the lagman is served.
Serve in a bowl with spoon, fork, salt, bread, and tea. That is lagman, really a very simple dish but incredibly filling and everyone recommends you eat it while in Central Asia. Do not forget to try both types of lagman, the dry and the wet versions. Welcome to Central Asian cuisine.
For more on lagman, check out this article on the SRAS site.