A great variety of Kazakh cuisine is conditioned, firstly, by the nomadic way of life, history and culture of the country, and secondly, by the national wealth of the Republic.
In contemporary Kazakh cuisine, there are dishes that have been borrowed from other nations and which are similar to the dishes of neighboring countries with some modifications of the recipe and cooking technology.
Traditional dishes are nourishing dishes from meat, dough and milk. In cooking, mainly meat lamb, beef, horse meat is used. Of white meat, chicken and duck are common.
The main national decoration of the table is the besbarmak (beshbarmak) - a meat dish based on mutton with the addition of horse meat or beef, with thin pieces of dough cooked in rich soup, sometimes potatoes, and adorned with onion broth and fresh herbs. The dish is called "besbarmak", which translates as "five fingers", as before it was eaten with hands, with five fingers. In addition to it, as a drink you can serve sorpa (strained broth), qymys (fermented mare’s milk ) or shubat (sour camel milk).
Sorpa with various ingredients is also one of the favorite individual first courses.
Other traditional dishes are kuyrdak and syrne. Kuyrdak is a roast of potatoes, meat and meat by-products, such as kidneys, heart, liver, with the addition of onions and lots of greenery. Syrne is a meat stew made from a young lamb. You can serve them with baursaks - fried in a cauldron with boiling oil round or square pieces of dough, or shelpelki - flat cakes also fried in boiling oil.
The Baursaks and shelpeks perfectly accompany such Kazakh delicacies as kazy and shuzhuk, zhal, zhaya, qarta, qabyrga - national snacks prepared from the hip, abdominal, ribs and other parts of horse meat.
Having gathered for many centuries at one dastarkhan, representatives of many nations now living in Kazakhstan enriched the Kazakh cuisine with such dishes as plov (palau), mants, pelmens, lagman, samsa, vareniks, various soups and many others, so that the modern Kazakh cuisine includes skillfully prepared dishes of traditional Uzbek, Uigur, Russian, Tatar, Korean cuisines.
Fish and seafood are more traditional for residents of the Aral and Caspian Sea coasts, the rivers Irtysh, Syrdarya, Ural. The most famous fish dish is the koktal (fish with vegetables fried in coals).
In addition to meat dishes, the milk variety is represented by drinks and special dishes: qymys, shubat, ayran (kind of kefir from cow's milk), qaimaq (thick sour cream), kilegey (cream), sari-may (salted butter), qatik (middle between yogurt and cottage cheese), qurt (hard salted curd or salted cheese), irimshik (hard cheese from sheep's milk), kozhe (milk drink with cereals), etc.
The main drink is strong tea with milk or cream. Any dastarkhan begins and ends with tea drinking, with dairy or other sweets on the table.