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 Food to Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country in Central Asia. The five countries with the most similar food are all landlocked. Four of the five are predominately Muslim. All of these countries were all once part of the Soviet Union before becoming independent.
- Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan 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.
- Uzbekistan is located to the west of Kyrgyzstan. Both countries have cuisines that feature a medley of flatbreads, meat, and spices. Moreover, these countries share a love for kebabs, especially with lamb or beef. Additionally, manti are commonly eaten in these countries too.
- Azerbaijan and Kyrgyz cuisines share some similarities, such as their variations of pilaf, dumplings, and the use of grilled meats like kebabs and shashlik. Both cuisines also emphasize the importance of flatbreads, herbs, and spices. However, Azerbaijani cuisine incorporates more seafood, since it is by the Caspian Sea.
- Tajikistan is another mountainous country that borders Kyrgyzstan. Osh, a celebrated dish in Kyrgyzstan, is similar to Tajikistan’s plov. Lagman, a noodle soup with rich broth and vegetables, is a dish commonly eaten in both nations too. The nomadic traditions of these countries have also influenced the consumption of dairy products and hearty meat-based dishes.
- Armenia is the only predominantly Christian country on the list. However, it also has many culinary similarities with Kyrgyzstan. Both countries eat many grilled meat skewers. Moreover, they share a love for flatbread. However, Armenian cuisine, influenced by a mix of Eastern European, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern flavors, incorporates a wider array of vegetables, fruits, and unique spices like sumac.
The Least Similar Food to Kyrgyzstan
The five countries with the least similar food to Tajikistan are all located in tropical regions, so their climates are much hotter and wetter. Four of the five nations border the Pacific Ocean. 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.
- Micronesia is a group of small islands in the Pacific Ocean. The country’s isolation has limited its exposure to foreign influences. In contrast to Kyrgyzstan’s diet, seafood is a large part of the Micronesia’s diet. Coconuts and tropical fruits are also an important part of their cuisine.
- Central African Republic is the only landlocked country on this list. Cassava and yams are two of the most commonly eaten ingredients in the country. Furthermore, taro and bananas make a much greater share of the nation’s diet than Kyrgyzstan’s diet.
- Solomon Islands is a Melanesian archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean, so its geography is far different than landlocked Kyrgyzstan. As a result, the country’s diet generally consists of a lot of seafood, tropical fruits, and coconuts. Raw fish and taro leaves are also commonly consumed there.
- Papua New Guinea is another Melanesian country on this list. Its cuisine often revolves around root vegetables like yams and taro. The culinary practices in Papua New Guinea vary widely across its numerous tribes, each with its own traditional cooking.
- Cambodia is a Southeast Asian country. The Cambodian diet is heavily based in rice and cassava. Unlike Kyrgyzstan, the biggest source of protein in Cambodia is freshwater fish. Beef and lamb are more commonly eaten in Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Beef, Lamb
Fruit: Watermelon, Apple
Vegetable: Tomato, Onion
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.