So here we are with the first Central Asian country tackled for this world cookery challenge… and it was a pretty last minute pick at that. This isn’t anything against Turkmenistan, just that I realised I hadn’t planned a country and pretty much chose this at random when looking at the map on my summary page.
When thinking about what to make for Turkmenistan, I really had to be wary to not make something that I might want to make for the neighbouring nations. Like I have been finding with West Africa, there is a lot of overlap between the dishes found in Central Asia. Dishes like plov and laghman are common to the five central nations – but I’m thinking of making those for Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan.
After some research I was able to find a consensus on a dish that is very much Turkmen and, from the pictures alone, I knew that it would be a good one to make.
Being British, it’s weird to think of a shepherd’s pie (or a cottage pie) that does not include a topping of mashed potato. It is because of my dislike of mashed potato that I do not know how to make a British shepherd’s pie. It’s weird, therefore, that I now know how to make içlekli, which is a shepherd’s pie from Turkmenistan.
I followed the recipe from Turkmen Kitchen when making this and opted to use beef rather than lamb because of my personal preference. As such, and probably because of the really fine beef, this pie sort of became a gigantic meatloaf in a pastry case – which was so so good. It was also fun to take some time to make a pattern with the holes.
It’s really key to make sure the steam escapes as this is a very wet pie filling (which caused the greaseproof paper to fuse to the bottom of some of the pie. If I were to make this again, I would probably not add any extra water and, instead, add a whole beef tomato. I say if, but this is something I can really see myself making again. Especially as this is something that tasted even better when reheated for dinner.
I’m going to be sticking with former Soviet states for a bit as I shift attention from Central Asia to Eastern Europe. Since I’ve never gotten around to making them since my holiday a few years ago, I figured now would be the time to cross off Lithuania and make my own zeppelins. Hopefully I can do them justice!