The following is a guest post by Brooke Schoneman from BrookeVStheWorld.com
I told my boyfriend of the stinky, dried yogurt balls known as kurut before our arrival into Kyrgyzstan.
The traditional nomadic lifestyle of the people in Kyrgyzstan has influenced the modern cuisine from drinks to snacks to main meals. Although nowadays the food culture has many tastes of Russian and Turkish origins, such as delicious borscht and pide, the meat and milk staples from the yurt villages in the jailoos still play strong. My boyfriend and I recently confirmed this fact on our travels through the Central Asian country.
It took a long time before we came into an actual food-to-mouth position with kurut, and it was probably my personal feelings towards the snack that made it so. We’d see them at the markets and bazaars, filling entire stands with pungent rocks and balls that made themselves known from meters away. Fun old ladies would sell tiny packets of kurut rocks on makeshift stands next to cigarettes and sunflower seeds. Even the shoro ladies would include the option of purchasing kurut from their popular street-side stalls.
I, on the other hand, had blocked the taste from my memory from when I tried them 4 years before. My friend had to remind me that I proceeded to go around the corner as fast as possible to spit it out on the street.
Yeah, they are that good.
Our days were getting fewer in Kyrgyzstan, and even though I warned Pat of their delicious flavor, he was adamant about giving them a try. It just so happened we had a planned outing to visit a jailoo with several yurts and families living in them.
On the roof of one of the sheds (or something like a shed) near a yurt sat dozens of drying yogurt balls in the sun – a scene that alluded to our soon to be fate.
And just like clockwork, a nice Kyrgyz woman presented us with an entire plate of kurut. Pat nibbled the tiniest bit off the corner, and it looked a little something like this:
He said the powdery consistency got stuck in his mouth for way too long, and the saltiness was only slightly overpowered by the harsh old yogurt/cheese taste.
She must not have been paying attention because we were gifted an entire bag of kurut from the woman of the yurt upon leaving. We immediately gifted them to our guide when back in the car.
Our guide told us that kurut is a great beer snack because of the salt, which was later proved when we were out at a pub and saw several Kyrgyz men enjoying the little balls – some even dropping them IN their beers!
Would you give kurut a try if traveling in Kyrgyzstan?