The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Kazakh Food
Kazakh cuisine is a unique mix of Turkic and Russian culinary traditions. In fact, about 15% of its population is ethnically Russian. As a result, both European and Central Asian countries are on this list. Furthermore, the five countries with the most similar food to Kazakhstan were all once part of the Soviet Union.
- Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have strong cultural bonds. Kazakh and Kyrgyz are extremely similar languages. Their food is alike as well. Both countries tend to eat a lot of meat. Beshbarmak, a celebrated dish made with boiled meat and egg noodles, is a prominent part of both their cuisines. Moreover, fermented dairy products like kumis and airan are widely consumed in both nations, owing to their nomadic past.
- Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan both border the Caspian Sea. Grilled kebabs, such as shashlik, are popular street foods enjoyed in these countries. Additionally, commonly eat flatbreads, such as lepyoshka in Kazakhstan and lavash in Azerbaijan. Dumplings are popular in both cuisines as well, though they may vary slightly in shape and fillings.
- Armenia is not a predominately Turkic country, but it still has similar food to Kazakhstan. Pilaf, dumplings, kebabs, and flatbreads feature prominently in the cuisines of both countries. In addition, they also feature a wide array of rich and flavorful stews. Yoghurt and sour cream are commonly used in both cuisines too.
- Ukraine has had a many emigrants to Kazakhstan. In fact, in the early 20th century, more than 10% of Kazakhstan’s population was Ukrainian. Therefore, it is no surprise their food is alike. Dumplings are commonly eaten in both cuisines, with Kazakhstan’s manty being very similar to Ukraine’s varenyky. Preserving foods through pickling and fermentation is another aspect these cuisines have in common.
- Russia is to the north of Kazakhstan. Russian food is widely available there, since many urban areas still have a significant Russian population. Many restaurants in Kazakhstan offer a fusion of cuisines, combining elements of Kazakh and Russian culinary traditions. However, Russia eats significantly more pork, since it is not predominately Muslim.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Kazakh Food
Four of the five countries with the least similar food to Kazakhstan are African. All these countries have tropical climates, so they are much hotter and wetter than Kazakhstan. These factors make the crops typically grown in these countries far different from the Central Asian region. Their diets rely far less on the consumption of wheat, meat, and potatoes.
- Democratic Republic of Congo is a former Belgian colony located in the middle of Africa. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country. The most commonly eaten meat in Congo is freshwater fish, whereas beef and chicken are more popular proteins in Uzbekistan. Furthermore, their diet has relatively little meat in it.
- Cambodia, like Kazakhstan, is located in Asia. However, its cuisine is far different from Kazakhstan’s. The Cambodian diet is heavily based in rice and cassava, while relatively little wheat and potatoes are consumed there. Another difference is that freshwater fish are more commonly eaten in Cambodia.
- Central African Republic is a former French colony that is located in the middle of Africa. Cassava and yam are two of the most commonly eaten staple ingredients in the country. Furthermore, meat is eaten significantly less often in Central African Republic, compared to Kazakhstan.
- Burundi is another French-speaking landlocked country in Africa. Its diet is in large part based on cassava, sweet potatoes, plantains, and bananas. In contrast, people in Kazakhstan eat more watermelons and cantaloupes.
- Comoros is an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean, close to the African mainland. Although both countries are mostly Muslim, their food is far different. Seafood and coconuts make up a much larger part of the diet in Comoros.
Kazakhstan’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Beef, Chicken
Fruit: Cantaloupe, Watermelon
Vegetable: Tomato, Onion
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.