Halyl is eating gatykliash

Halyl is eating gatykliash

Desert People:

Gatykliash: I’ve made it for the first time after we’ve moved to Iran. It’s called gatykliash, an unique Turkmen dish made with yoghurt. I don’t find anything similar in Japanese cuisine. How to make – Fry chopped spinach and herb with some amount of rice, then add water and cook until soft. Use salt, pepper and cumin for seasoning. Chopped garlics can be good as well. When they’re cooled, mix with yoghurt and serve. Gatyk means yoghurt in Turkmen and ash means herb soup so the translation would be “yoghurt soup”.

“li” is used when nouns become adjective. Suyt (milk) + chai (tea) = suytlichai (milk tea), for example. Important is that this dish has to be eaten with fish, by the way.

The fish is called “kilka” and they’re from Caspian Sea. I guess it’s sardine but it’s much smaller than the one I know. The fish is troublesome to handle because it’s small and scaly. That’s probably why it was not sold much at the Wednesday market although it cost only 2000 tomans (approximately sixty cents!) a kilogram. But the taste is excellent. It tastes somehow like caviar (That’s how we get excited).

Chi-chan also likes kirka and takes quick bites of raw kirka. So when I remove the scales, I have to lock her in the house and clean them in the garden. Gatykliash. It’s originally a taste of spring.

I guess this subject is loved by most women.
I’ve almost forgotten the fact that our kitchen is not built yet. Kitchen sink is connected to the water supply and to the overflow but the feet is temporarily done by some metal poles. There’s no working table or cabinets. Luckily, we’ve got all the necessary utensils so there’s no problem in cooking. But still storage is inidispensable!

I use these racks for keeping fruits and vegetables. We’ve bought two of them just after we moved to this house. But potatoes, onions and garlics are always there and if we buy many different kinds of fruits, the baskets will not be enough. When I wanted to buy one more, this type of racks had already disappeared from the market. I was hesitated to buy the new model because it was much more expensive… until I found the three-storied rack again. It was fifty-percent increase in price but I insisted to buy it. Actually, I wanted to buy one more if they had.

Regular spices are turmeric, chili powder, cumin, clove, cardamon, black pepper et cetera. Spice bottles were bought at the Wednesday market as well. This is a same design as the ones I used to have in Japan but I think it’s an imitation. The lid is rotational and there’s three different sizes of holes. Those turkish ones were much cheaper than the ones I bought in Japan. I believe it’s just me who bought this spice bottle in Kumishtepe this year. Because I don’t think Turkmen will be attracted to such modern designs. (?)


Cheese that is made by squeezing yoghurt is called “suzme” in Turkmen. It’s a nominalized form of a verb suzmek (strain).
Since Khalil taught me, I never stopped making this cheese. Perhaps I’ve never written the recipe because it’s easy to make for anyone, anywhere.

What you need to prepare is yoghurt, a cotton cloth (handkerchief) and a small bowl. I use a pair of chopsticks as well. First of all, place a cloth in the middle of a bowl and drop some yoghurt gently (below).

Be careful not to touch the yoghurt surface by cloth. Tie the two corners next to each other, of both sides (below).

Lift the knots and let chopsticks go through the holes. Then hang the chopsticks somewhere. You could use other equipments like a fork or a rope, depending on the place you hang. Don’t forget to place a bowl or something to catch the drops from the cheese (below).

Leave it for several hours and take away the cloth when it’s ready. The knack of it is to put the cheese on your left hand and try to put the cheese pieces which is stuck on the cloth to the cheese body by your right hand and tear off all the pieces from the cloth. It’s probably not easy to understand by reading this but you’ll know what I mean if you practice it yourself 🙂
A rough estimate for hanging time can be one night. If you hang it for too long, the cheese will not be soft or moist enough. I’m giving the squeezed water (whey) to dogs by bread but if you use it for cooking it will be useful.

Now you don’t need to buy “Philadelphia” anymore! It’s ideal if you can make your own yoghurt as well. If you mix some dried fruits or spices, it will be an attractive dessert or a snack.

Chi-chan and Romeo are having good time. Khalil is going to a fish market these days to collect the internals of fish for dogs. Cats also get the leftovers so they are well-fleshed and their skins are shining. I believe they are superbly beautiful cats 🙂
One thing I’m worried is that Romeo’s appetite is infinite. No matter how much he eats, he wants more and it’s endless. He eats with dogs, picking over the leftovers and then eats again with Chi-chan at home. If there is such thing as a hunger center of the brain, I guess his is out of order.
On the other hand, Chi-chan’s nature is very elegant, which is quite different from Romeo’s. I feel easy about it if Chi-chan is around when we eat. If you teach her by saying “Pisch!”, she would step back a pace and sit down neatly.
Their favourite food are meat, fish and egg. Those are in common among them but apart from that, insects and birds are Chi-chan’s favourites. Furthermore, bread, cake and toffee are what makes her excited. She just loves cakes. I wonder if the sweet taste of sugar is also attractive for cats. How can a taste for insects and for sugar exist together? It seems cats have more complicated taste than I believed.
Romeo basically eats everything but he holds back when it comes to cakes because Chi-chan becomes aggressive. What made me surprise the most was the fact that Romeo loves dried fruits. He likes what we like to have with tea, dates and rai for example. Once when we gave him a small bowl of raisins, he finished it. Is he alright?
I think Chi-chan got pregnant, by the way. We’ve seen such a period a while ago that some male cats came close to her. Romeo was one of them, actually. I’m not expecting their children this time though because I believe his organs of reproduction has not been developed yet. But I’m sure they will have some children together in the future because they make really nice couple. I’m also very curious to observe how cat father takes care of their children.

Shopping on a rainy day

It was a cold rainy day today so I asked Khalil to go to the Wednesday market alone. When it rains, it’ll be dangerous to have two people riding a motorcycle because the road will be muddy. Well, that’s the official reason but the truth is of course because I feel lazy to go out. But Khalil always carries out the work without complaining. On such a day I would hand him a piece of paper, which is my wish list.

He bought all kinds of vegetables, dried apricots and apples. What I asked were black tea and toilet paper. It seems he’s forgotten my request for toffees. “Was it enough?”, he said. He must be joking. If you wonder how he carried all this in the rain:

It was nothing but a Santa Claus. I’m having fun because it’s Xmas day everyday lol
On Wednesday afternoons, I’d be occupied in kitchen, washing vegetables and preparing them. Today I was fascinated by wonderful cauliflowers. I’d like to boil them and grill with some other vegetables with coriander sauce for dinner.

Why I have nightmares

There are dreams that I see repeatedly, which I don’t like – I’m on the way to airport to catch my flight but it seems I’m going to miss the flight and I’m overanxious. I see the face of a clock and the hands are going around and around. I’m trying to figure out how close I can get in how many minutes and so on. Actually, I’ve never missed a flight and I wonder why I see such a dream. Also, there are nightmares like I won’t complete the preparations for exams in time or I’m running away from a murderer. It’s really tense situation that I want to scream, “HELP!” but for some reason I can not speak. So I am panicking!
Why do I have such nightmares? Do I have some hidden trauma? Or am I thinking negative about life? I try to figure out but I have no idea about those possibilities. That’s why I asked Khalil and he gave me an unexpected answer, as usual. Khalil is always like that. His point of view is something unexpected but it’s consistent and natural.
When he said, “Guess, why do you think you have nightmares?”, something came to my mind as I’ve lived with him in many years. First of all, the environment of the room that I’m sleeping. I’m sleeping in a room with a door shut because it’s cold. The heater is even on. There is no ventilation in the room. So the oxygen will be burnt by the time, until I have difficulty breathing. It must be then when the nightmare begins. Another thing Khalil pointed out was that I am sleeping on the edge of the sleeping mat with my legs drawn up. He says I should sleep in the middle of the mat and relax so that I could have good blood flow.
If I’ve worried too much about my nightmares and started to think if I have trauma, I could even have got neurotic. But in fact, it was a physical reason like the environment of sleeping room, as Khalil pointed out, that was making me uncomfortable. Most phenomena in our surrounded world would be easy to understand if you observe the physical environment in a natural point of view, instead of doubting about the mental aspect. What I mean by natural point of view is a very simple thing – conditions for a comfortable life are simply air (oxygen), food and relaxing.

Revolution Day

It was Revolution Day in Iran. On this day in 1979, Ayutollah Khomeini who were forced to flee from his own country came back from France, as a representative of the opposing forces.
I suppose the Japanese are confused between Iran and Iraq at quite a lot of rate. Someone even made mistake between Iran and Israel, which made me smile a bitter smile. But to tell the truth, I myself didn’t even know anything about Iran before I met Khalil either.
Today, Iran is an Islamic Republic and its politic is based on Islam. Iranians who live in Iran is all muslim. But at the time when the King ruled the country, people’s life style were “westernized”, which is different from today. Khalil did not know the actual condition of the Islamic Republic of Iran for a long time because he has grown up in monarchy and moved out before the revolution.
People’s life condition in Turkmen Sahara during the monarchy was hard. At that time, many Turkmen earned their living by fishing in the Caspian Sea. The world famous black caviar is from this sea but Turkmen fishermen never had enough money to feed their children, because the King Mohammad Reza Pahlavi sent a general or a tradesman into this region so that they can control the production of caviar or the agricultural products.
Fishermen who found it difficult to make their living started selling the caviar in black markets. Because at the fishing center, where they were supposed to sell their fish, they had to virtually give away the caviar. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who got angry with the fishermen sent a general called Servan Harmet from his own guard to this area. Servan is one of the military rank and they’re supposed to have three stars on their shoulders.
Servan Harmet behaved like a dictator in Turkmen Sahara, treating fishermen like a dog. He didn’t even let them take the rest of the fish meat after they have taken away the caviar. Sometimes he went around Turkmen fishermen’s houses and if he found a piece of fish in their gazan (big cooking pot), he would kill the fisherman by boiling in a cauldron. If he didn’t succeed to kill the fisherman, he would put him in jail and punished him repeatedly. As Khalil’s father was a fisherman, they also came to Patma daiza’s kitchen (my mother-in-law). Luckily, she didn’t have fish on that day and Khalil’s father saved his life from boiling water. It must have been a terrible day. The caviar that Turkmen fishermen risked their life for has been carried to America and the upper class people must have enjoyed them at that time.
On the other hand, a tradesman who was employed by the King were sent to Turkmen Sahara and the regime has monopolized the distribution of agricultural products as well as livestock products. The tradesman, who was a Jewish Iranian,  was called Hojabriezdani. Just like the Servan Harmet, he acted like a dictator in this region and made Turkmen live in poverty. Khalil has once met a representative of a company ran by this man at some place and heard that Hojabriezdani has moved to Australia after the revolution. It was twenty-two years ago in Turkmenistan, when the country has become independent from Soviet Union. Khalil lived in Finland at that time but he was invited by some government office of Turkmenistan because of his relation with Turkmen intellectuals. In one of the commemorative ceremony, he has met the subordinate of Hojabriezdani.
Coming back to Iran under monarchy. Although they were forced to live in poverty, Turkmens never gave up in such a condition. That made the King even more angry and he has strengthen all kinds of enforcement. So it is easy to understand that Turkmens’ reaction against the monarchy has accelerated the movement, when Ayutollah Khomeini has returned and the revolution broke out.

Resource: Desert People -life in Turkmen sahara, Iran