Tatar Kazan-Kyzgan and Kunterma

Posted by Florian in Meat, Russian Food, tagged with , , , ,

In my last post, about Kazan Chay Bar, a Tatar restaurant in Moscow, I introduced you to kazan-kyzgan, a dish prepared to order in a kazan, wherein small cubes of a meat of your choice are sautéed with onion, spices, potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes, kept in separate layers, and topped with herbs. This was the first time I’d ever heard of kazan-kyzgan, and once back home, I started looking for recipes. It turned out to be a rather elusive dish…

I don’t own a lot of Tatar cookbooks – just a couple, plus a few pages in books covering broader subjects. Already, this is probably more than most people. But between the dead tree literature and the internet, I was able to find only one recipe for kazan-kyzgan, right here. So as much as I would like to tell you some fascinating historical tidbits about this dish, I’m afraid I have noting to say. What’s worse: while my research seems to suggest that “kyzgan” means something in Tatar (the word appears in texts written in Tatar), I can’t even tell you what it is because the word isn’t listed in online Tatar dictionaries. If anyone out there reading this knows Tatar, please enlighten me!

Tatar Cuisine - Kazan-Kyzgan

This is the kind of dish that can use a piece of bread for dipping in its rich sauce, so I am complementing it with an equally rare Tatar recipe. Kunterma is a bread made with a rich, leavened chickpea flour dough. And, yet again, I’ve found only one recipe for it, duplicated on a few Russian sites that seem completely clueless as to the way it’s eaten.

Tatar Cuisine - Kunterma

I haven’t made a lot of changes to the kazan-kyzgan recipe, even keeping the somewhat ridiculous bunch of herbs on top of the dish during service (I later chop and sprinkle them on top of the plates). Mostly, I just make sure that the meat is cooked long enough to be perfectly tender. As for the kunterma, I’m not impressed by the “original,” which comes out terribly heavy. I’ve replaced the baking soda with yeast, added some bread flour, and tweaked the proportions. The result is a much airier bread. I’m sure most Tatars would approve.

So consider these the first recipes ever published in English for kazan-kyzgan and kunterma. To hell with modesty – consider these the best recipes ever published for kazan-kyzgan and kunterma! It might also be the first time anyone ever eats the two of them together. Ain’t we special.

Tatar Cuisine - Kazan-Kyzgan

Kunterma
Yields 1 bread (about 8 servings)

110 g milk, lukewarm
2 g active dry yeast
2 g sugar
75 g (about 1 1/2) eggs
3.5 g salt
40 g olive oil
150 g chickpea flour, sifted
75 g bread flour
5 g butter
4 g parsley leaves, chopped
0.2 g thyme leaves

  • In a small bowl, combine half of the milk with the yeast and sugar. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, mix the eggs, remaining milk, salt, and half of the olive oil over low speed.
  • Add the chickpea flour, yeast mixture, and bread flour, mixing for a few seconds between each addition. Run the mixer (still on low speed) for 3 minutes, stopping a couple times to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place for 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in volume.
  • Grease a 20 cm diameter ring mold with butter, and transfer the dough to the mold. Cover with plastic, and let proof for 30 minutes.
  • Heat oven to 200 C / 400 F oven, with a dish full of water on the lower rack.
  • Bake the bread for 17-20 minutes. to an internal temperature of 100 C / 210 F.
  • Transfer the bread to a cooling rack, remove the mold, and let cool for a couple minutes.
  • In a bowl, combine the parsley and thyme leaves with the remaining olive oil, and spoon evenly on top of the kunterma. Let cool to room temperature.
Tatar Cuisine - Kunterma

Kazan-Kizgan
Yields 4 servings

1 lamb shank and 1 rack of lamb riblets (about 850 g total, more or less half and half)
salt
10 g canola oil
300 g peeled onions, thinly sliced
120 g peeled carrots, thinly sliced
5 g peeled garlic, minced
2 g ground cumin
1 g ground coriander seeds
1 g Urfa pepper flakes
0.5 g ground star anise
200 g veal stock
150 g water
4 thyme sprigs
250 g large peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 3-4 mm thick
150 g orange and red peppers, cored and seeded
15 g olive oil
8 (100-150 g) cherry or grape tomatoes of various colors

  • Season the meat with salt on all sides. Heat the canola oil in a wok over high heat. Sauté the meat until brown, remove from wok and reserve.
  • Add the onions, carrots, and garlic to the wok, season with salt, and cook until golden brown.
  • Stir in the cumin, coriander seeds, pepper flakes, and star anise, and cook for about 1 minute.
  • Return the meat to the wok, add the veal stock, water, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, then place the wok in a 120 C / 250 F oven, and cook, uncovered, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat should easily separate from the bone using a knife, but not quite be fork-tender yet.
  • Remove the meat from the cooking liquid, and discard the thyme. Bone the lamb, cut into cubes of 4 cm each, and return to the wok. The meat should be barely covered by the liquid; if necessary, add a little bit of water.
  • Layer the potatoes on top of the meat in a fanning pattern, and season with salt. Cook in a 175 C / 350 F oven for 45 minutes. 
Tatar Cuisine - Kazan-Kyzgan
  • Seed the peppers, and cut vertically into 8 pieces, following the ribs to obtain long petal shapes. In a pan over medium-high heat, sauté in olive oil until slightly brown, then season with salt and remove from the heat.
  • Arrange the pepper petals and the tomatoes in the wok, on top of the cooked potatoes, then return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  • Proceed with assembly below.
Tatar Cuisine - Kazan-Kyzgan

Assembly
Yields 4 servings

10 g parsley sprigs, bottom stems trimmed
3 g thyme sprigs
kazan-kyzgan
1/2 kunterma

  • Place the parsley and thyme sprigs on top of the kazan-kyzgan to present the dish to your guests. 
  • Transfer the herbs to a cutting board, remove the stems, and chop finely.
  • Distribute the kazan-kyzgan between four bowls, sprinkle with herbs, and serve with slices of kunterma.
Tatar Cuisine - Kazan-Kyzgan
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