Eating sheep’s head and eagle hunting in Kazakhstan with the Travel Professor

I’ve arrived in Kazakhstan to find
some rural ecotourism. I flew into Astana drove two hours down to Karaganda in
the middle of Kazakhstan. Now I heard about a village even further south about four
and a half hours south east of Karaganda to find some ecotourism there. I’m
driving down Kazakhstan’s steppe, just gun barrel straight roads.
I’ve stopped off on the way to find some eagle hunters. Hunting with eagles is a
tradition in Kazakhstan and it’s considered an art. These eagles hunt
rabbits and foxes and even wolves I’m here with Makpal, Kazakhstan’s only
female eagle hunter. Berkutchi is the kazakh word for a person who worked
and hunts with eagles. Makpal’s family are all involved in the eagle hunting. Here I
am having a go. The eagle hunters wear this special glove as well as having a
leash. The eagle itself wears a cool leather cap like an old-fashioned
airplane pilot. The eagle here was quite heavy.
Anyway, we got on fantastically and then I gave him back. Anyway it was time to get back on the
road and head to the village. Arriving in the village of Shabanbai-Bi, they put
me straight to work by building the yurt. The yurt is the traditional tent that
you often find in Kazakhstan and Mongolia. This ecotourism project is very hands-on.
You can see I got to build the roof, learn to tie knots to make it secure so
it didn’t fall down while I was sleeping in it tonight. And this is the finished yurt behind me.
Looks great. After finishing the yurt we were given a demonstration of some of
the traditional games that Kazakhs played. This often involved horses. Behind me we have a traditional horse wrestling game. They are wrestling each while on the backs of horses. It’s crazy. It’s Kazakhstan. This game involved riding along and trying to pick
up a sock with a ball in it or something like this. They weren’t very successful at that. Next it was my turn on the back of the
horse. I wasn’t keen to do any wrestling on it. Well, horses are such an important part
of the Kazakh culture, I thought I’d have a quick walk on one. I haven’t managed to fall off yet. This is the home-stay where you stay in
the village. It’s very modest but very comfortable as
well. One of the great things about traveling, and specifically in Kazakhstan,
is trying different foods that you wouldn’t normally try at home and here
at Shabanbai-Bi not only do you get to try it but you get to make it so I’m
getting involved hands-deep making the local foods. Here’s some homemade butter
in the yellow and in the white is kurt, which is essentially pressed sour
cream which is cooked and made in is very salty. It makes a nice snack to eat
with or drink with beer. We could also see here a sheep’s stomach
being filled up with other meaty bits from the sheep, not unlike haggis, I guess. After all the good bits are put inside the stomach, the stomach is closed up and they also have a pipe which allows the air to get in and out of the stomach while it is then buried in the ground to cook. So we see the meat put into into the
sheep’s stomach, and then it’s buried in the hot ground to cook it. That’s what they’re doing
here. Not too dissimilar to the New Zealand hangi
or the Fijian lovo. It’s all captured though in the sheep’s stomach. Okay so now we’re gonna dig it up and
dig up the stomach since it’s been cooked. We can tell how cooked it was by
the pipe that we leave uncovered. Here, they’re making kumis, the horse milk,
which is the popular local drink. They have the horse milk and then they add
some butter and just churn it a little bit so that gives it its sour taste. So the fresh kumis that we just made outside, here we are trying it now. How is it? Very refreshing because it has that sour taste. We also get an opportunity to make some flour so here
we’re pounding some of the grain. We also see that they’re roasting the
grain as well to get that nice roasty barley. We’re inside the yurt now and we can
see they’re making the popular, Baursak which is the fried bread of
Kazakhstan. With some nice dombre music. The baursak dough is then fried in the oil to make the baursak. Kazakhstan is a predominantly Muslim
country and here before we slaughter this sheep, we say our prayers so that the
meat is halal. In Kazakhstan, all parts of the sheep are used so we’ve seen the
stomach already been used. Of course, the normal part of the
carcass is eaten as meat and we’re even going to eat the sheep’s head. I’m really
looking forward to that. And remember folks, when you’re slitting a sheep’s throat,
remember to get your foot out of the way. Silence of the lambs. Traditional Kazakh style. We’re in the
countryside. Wow in the middle of Kazakhstan here I finally get to have the sheep’s head – the whole sheep – We saw it slaughtered yesterday. It’s amazing –
the tradition in Kazakhstan. I’ve seen this on travel shows, on food shows and
now I have the privilege, my hosts have given me the opportunity to try the sheep’s head set and with the sheep’s meat as well. It’s gonna be great. so I started off with the ear. That’s the
first part that we eat and how would I describe the taste? It was…it was
okay. I mean, it was chewy. Lots of protein. At the head of the yurt, there is a dombre. It’s the main place in the house. So this was the village of Shabanbai bi
– a real Kazakh experience, right in the wilderness, doing all the traditional
Kazakh culture, customs and foods.

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