Crimean Tatar Food

Crimean Tatar Food

Crimea is permeated and surrounded by diverse cultures, and as such shares many cultural and food traditions across the region.  Research shows that many of the foods of the region were carried like a wave from Siberia and Mongolia – brought west by Genghis Khan as the “Golden Horde” swept west, conquering Russia, Ukraine, Poland and into Germany.

They intermixed with Turkic peoples who were indigenous to the region, and as the wave receded, it carried with it conquered peoples and the spoils of war, and the resulting “Tatars” have populated Crimea, the Kazan region of Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan since the 16th century.  They have a common root language that it Turkic, and many of the foods and traditions reflect that mixture of Turkic, Mongul, and Slavic roots.

Hand Grinding Meat for Dumplings

In food you will get an argument as to whether a food originated in one place or another. For instance, pelmeni (the dumpling about the size of the end of your thumb, that Venera made for me last week) is also claimed to be native to Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Armenia, and even China.

Here are some of the dishes I had while in Crimea.  This is not an exhaustive list, but each has claims of origin that range throughout the range of the original Golden Horde.  For those foods that are not claimed as native to the region, they are viewed as a bit exotic – in the same way we consider authentic Mexican food to be a bit exotic.

Plov, Shashlik, and Lepioshka

Click on the link if you would like to view the recipe:

Pelmini – the tiny, ubiquitous eastern dumpling served in a broth with sour cream.

Manti – A dumpling, larger than pelmini, served with sour cream or yogurt and dill

Cheberik – looks like a thin pancake folded in half, filled with meat and pan-fried

Lagman – a lamb stew with noodles

Plov – a rice dish meant to feed a crowd, cooked outdoors on a wood fire in a wok like pan, made with chicken, lamb or beef with onions, carrots, herbs and spices.

Shashlik – shish kabob by any other name, is very popular throughout the region

Samsa – looks like an empanada and filled with meat or fruit.

Dolmas – peppers stuffed with meat and baked and served with sour cream.

Sarma – grape leaves rolled around ground meat, onions, and spices, and steamed

Dumpling Dough