Excerpt from Postcards from Stanland: Journeys in Central Asia will be published by the Ohio University (Swallow) Press (2016)
Shashlik—the best fast food in Central Asia (as long as you’re not vegetarian). Lumps of lamb or mutton on metal skewers or sharp sticks are marinated and barbecued on charcoal grills until they are crisp on the outside but still juicy inside. The secret to the flavor is the marinade--usually lemon juice, diced onions and garlic, cilantro, ground coriander and salt—and the lump of mutton fat on the skewer. Shashlik is served with raw onions, sprinkled with paprika or cayenne pepper. This is not your fancy kabob (although it’s in the same culinary family) with slices of pepper, eggplant or tomato. It’s just meat, meat and more meat, giving you the protein you need to round up the herd. The best shashlik I’ve eaten has been at roadside stands like this one in the Fergana Valley of southern Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. In Kazakhstan, you can also find beef shashlik, but the mutton is best.
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