In traditional cuisine, milk is rarely used in its raw condition, mainly dishes are made from fermented milk. Products that was made from milk are called ‘ak’ - white. Kazakh people consider milk as important thing, so they treat milk respectfully. milk is not poured, do not step over it.
Kazakhs usually use milk of cows, sheep, goats, and camels. The most common is cow's milk. Goat and sheep milk are used often.
Kumys is a Kazakh national drink. It is a fermented milk drink made from mare (very often cow and camel) milk. Kumys is an effervescent foaming drink with an alcoholic aftertaste and smell. Kumys was known to nomadic peoples from ancient times. It was prepared by the nomads of the Central Asia. Herodotus, who lived in the 5th century BC, wrote that mare's milk was a favorite drink of the Scythian nomads, prepared by a special method. Nomads were concealing a secret receipt of kumys. Those who divulged this secret were blinded.
In folk medicine, koumiss is used for malnutrition and vitamin deficiency. Koumiss gives the body vitality and strength, has a beneficial effect on the nervous system, and normalizes metabolism. In ancient times, koumiss was called the “drink of the heroes”. This drink is useful both for healthy people and those recovering from debilitating diseases.
There are many ways to cook koumiss related to the customs and traditions of the Kazakhs. In spring, freshly pre-war mare's milk (Saumal) is placed in a camel, foal or goat skin wineskin, where special leaven is added. After 2-3 days, koumiss is ready.
The most valuable after koumiss is shubat. It is made from camel milk. Like koumiss, shubat is fermented and stored in special dishes made of leather, wood or ceramics. But the difference is that shubat is brought to the desired condition by stirring, not by whipping like koumiss. Two-three-day shubat is considered the best and highest quality. In different regions of Kazakhstan, shubat is called differently: in Central and Western Kazakhstan people call it shubbat, in South - Kımyran, in East - tuye Kımız (camel koumiss).
Kurt is a national product that can be stored for a long time. Kurt is made from cow or sheep’s milk. In order to make kurt, sour milk is poured into a wooden barrel (kespek) for several days. Then іrkіt (cottage cheese from sour milk) is poured into a large cauldron. After that set on fire and continuously mix until it thickens. After cooling, transfer to a clean linen bag to drain excess fluid. Then roll them in a small balls.
Another favorite milk drink of Kazakhs is Ayran. Ayran is very healthy. It improves digestion and appetite, quenches thirst, normalizes the intestinal microflora, improves the respiratory and cardiovascular systems and strengthens the immune system. In order to prepare ayran, you need a constant temperature milk and some special sourdough. Mix them, put in a warm place and leave. A delicious ayran will be ready in a day.
Usually, people use ayran as a drink. But it can be used in some different ways. Some people cook soups with ayran. If you add some herbs like dill, green onion or parsley it will be a delicious sauce. Ayran is also a good with fruits. You can put pieces of your favorite fruit in ayran and let it brew for several hours, win-win option would be a green apple. You can also add granola and honey to Ayran.
You can make Suzbe from Ayran. Just pour ayran into a canvas bag for pumping fluid. You can add salt to suzbe if needed.
Irimshik (cottage cheese) made from fresh or warmed cow, sheep or goat milk, where the abomasum is lowered to ‘curl’ it. Then take out the abomasum, and boil the sour milk on low heat until the cottage cheese is completely separated from the serum. Drained it from the serum then dry it out. It ca also be used without drying. You can eat Irimshik immediately after filtering or store for a long time.
Sarysu is prepared from serum formed after the preparation of cottage cheese. Serum is boiled in a cauldron on low heat until it thick. After it is cooled, make different shapes from them and dry out. Sarysu also can be used while it is fresh.