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?
CARAJune 18, 2021 at 12:50 am
OMG! I LOVE THEM. My daughter’s best friend is from Kyrgyzstan. Her mother offered me some when I picked my daughter up from a playdate last night. I love salty sour foods. I realize I’m odd that way. I’m probably one of the few howlies on the mainland who like poi (Yup! The fermented mashed taro root pudding-like dish from the Pacific Islands). Ah well! More for me! Ha! Btw, I found this page because I was looking for a recipe.
RebeccaSeptember 6, 2018 at 1:26 pm
I went to Kyrgyzstan, didn’t try kurut from the stalls (was on a work trip and felt like potential gastrointestinal distress was not professional) but did unknowingly buy chocolate with kurut bits inside. I must say I like crunchy saltiness that it adds – makes it more of a ‘savoury’ chocolate – although it’s definitely more sweet than salty. reminds me of how in the Philippines, they often serve cheese and salted duck egg with desserts!
AngelinaJune 20, 2018 at 5:31 pm
I just tried some that my coworker gave to me. I must say it’s simply horrible. Not knocking those whom love these treats they just simply aren’t for me or my taste buds.
LisaJanuary 11, 2017 at 3:24 am
Hi, I’m looking for a recipe for the Afghanistan salted yogurt. Not the dried item. Is there anyone out there that can help me?
Kyrgyz Qurut Cheese by Mountain Nomads, Nomad Revelations Travel BlogJune 12, 2015 at 4:15 pm
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NoreenMay 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm
My whole childhood spent eating kuruts and i love its taste i lived in peshawar but now i lived in karachi and in this part of pakistan we dont get it but whenever anyone from the family goes there or come from there i want a bag of kurut for me even i have cousins in America n Uk who craving and asking for these yummi dried balls.
DanielleApril 18, 2014 at 9:27 pm
My husband is from Kyrgyzstan and we just got back from visiting his family there. We brought a bunch of kurut back. I love them!
The August Express 2012 | Brooke vs. the WorldSeptember 1, 2012 at 2:54 am
[…] The Taste of Travel: Meet Kurut, the Kyrgyz Snack Food […]
EstherAugust 17, 2012 at 9:01 pm
I tried those while I was there. My reaction was similar to your boyfriend’s. But it was still more tolerable for me than kymyz…that came right back up when I drank it. Did you ever try sumalak? It’s only made during Noruz. That’s actually very good, well, the Uzbek variety is (the Kyrgyz one doesn’t taste as good, in my opinion).
Brooke vs. the WorldAugust 21, 2012 at 9:11 am
@Esther: I’ve read about sumalak by someone that traveled in Uzbekistan, but I have not had it, or the Kyrgyz kind. Sounds much better than kymyz and kurut!
Brock - Backpack With BrockAugust 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm
I think I’d give it a whirl!
LaurenceAugust 5, 2012 at 6:03 am
Stinky dried yoghurt balls! Where do I sign up?
Brooke vs. the WorldAugust 5, 2012 at 11:27 am
@Laurence: Haha, I’ll put you at the top of the list! Different palettes in that country that’s for sure!
Diana EdelmanAugust 3, 2012 at 5:58 am
Hmmm … sound interesting!! Not sure if I would like it though …
Brooke vs. the WorldAugust 5, 2012 at 11:28 am
@Diana Edelman: Not sure if any Western palettes could enjoy it! ;)
paul | walkflypinoyAugust 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm
haha. the third photo said it all. but sure, i’d give it a whirl. then again, i’d give any cheese or yogurt-related product a whirl.
ChristyAugust 2, 2012 at 12:53 am
I would try it! I would much rather give old cheese a taste before I would try some of the meat and insect dishes in other countries.
Brooke vs. the WorldAugust 2, 2012 at 10:28 pm
@Christy: Brave woman!
Brooke vs. the WorldAugust 1, 2012 at 11:52 pm
Thanks for letting me share my inside tips to Kyrgyz food ;)