Their nomadic lifestyle meant that they had little cooking equipment, and could only carry food that could be easily preserved. These conditions, along with brutally hot summers and a barren desert landscape, gave rise to the traditional Turkman dish of “ichlekli”, or shepherds’ pie.
Ichlekli are cooked when they are buried in hot sand, of which there is no shortage, given summer temperatures which frequently top 40 or 50 degrees centigrade.
The difficulties of storing food meant that there was very little in the way of fruit or vegetables in the Turkman diet. Oguljemal Artyklyeva explains to euronews that “Our forefathers mainly roasted meat and baked bread, but they only used doughs that didn’t contain yeast.”
Nowadays in Turkmenistan, ovens are widely used to cook their national dishes. But holidays and festivals provide a good excuse to revert to the old ways.