Curried baked “beef” with yoghurt and fruit (Kyrgyzstan)

Kyrgyzstan is a country in Central asia, a former member of the USSR. It is landlocked and farther from a sea than any other country in the world. 80 % of the country is made up by a mountainous area. Historically the Kyrgyz have been mostly semi-nomadic herders living in yurts. Horse riding remains important. Despite plenty of gold resources, the country is very poor and the number of people living in poverty is growing. Football and wrestling are very popular, with ice hockey and bandy also increasing in popularity. Kyrgyzstan is troubled by political and ethnic conflicts, frequently leading to unrest. Some politicians have fled the country, others have been arrested or even assassinated.

The Kyrgyz cuisine is most similar to Kazakh cuisine, with horse meat and mutton being very important. Other meats and fish are eaten too (except for pork, as most people are Muslims). Cabbage, onion and peppers are among the most popular vegetables. Nuts are eaten a lot, one specialty is a sweet preserve made from young walnuts. Food preparation stems from the nomadic history, so focus has been on preservation. Food is often greasy with oil or sheep fat. Both rice and noodles are used. Food in Northern Kyrgyzstan has traditionally been bland, while fresh herbs and other spices are used more in the South. Naan bread with tea is a traditional meal served to guests. There are several popular fermented drinks, made with mare’s milk or grains. Honey is used for sweetening.

This dish originally comes from Celtnet, as many Vegventures recipes. I veganized it by leaving out the eggs. It was okay, but even though I like dried fruit, it felt a bit too sweet.

Curried baked “beef”

Kirgiz baked "beef"

1 lbs/450 g seitan (or other mock meat), cut into 1 cm dice
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup/120 ml plain soy yoghurt
1 tsp corn starch
1 apple, diced
2.5 oz/75 g dried apricots, chopped
1.4 oz/40 g seedless raisins
1.4 oz/40 g dried prunes, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170C/340F. Heat the oil on a frying pan. Fry the onion and bell pepper until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the cubed seitan and brown a bit. Turn off the heat and sprinkle in the cornstarch fairly evenly.

Combine all the ingredients in a casserole dish and mix well. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

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