Besh Barmak (Five Fingers)

The term Beshbarmak means “five fingers”, because the dish is eaten with one’s hands. The boiled meat is usually diced with knives and often mixed with boiled noodles. It is usually served in a big round dish. Treating to beshbarmak is accompanied with an original ritual. The meat itself is served in large pieces. Beshbarmak is usually served with shorpo – mutton broth in bowls called kese. ‘Amen’ is always said at the end of the meal to give thanks to God.

Beshbarmak is traditionally served according to the ritual. Sheep’s head boiled in a kazan is put before the most honorable guest, usually the oldest one. This person cuts the bits and parts from the head and offers them to the other guests at the table. The younger adults often receive the bones of the legs and shoulders. Youths are given sheep’s ear with the wishes to be careful; girls get a palate so as to be diligent. The other parts of the carcass are not considered any less meaningful. The most respected guests are treated to gammon and shank. A young bride receives the brisket; however, married women are given the neck-bones instead. Children are given the kidneys and heart, which are supposed to make them mature; however, children are not allowed to eat sheep’s brain because it is believed to make them weak-willed. Knuckle is never served to a young girl because of the belief that it will cause her to forever remain an old maid.