Kalil is baking Burek

Kalil is baking Burek

Desert People –life in Turkmen sahara

Burek – One day, Khalil came home with some fish which his sister gave him. She lives nearby and her sons are fishing in the Caspian Sea.

The fish is called “takkaz”. Turkmen make a deep-fried food called “burek”. They boil the fish and some potatoes, squash and season it. With that filling, they make a kind of dumpling. Then deep-fry it. But because I used a shallow pan, it was not so successful this time. (It was a bit undercooked!)
The skin is made simply of flour and water but Khalil puts some eggs in it. The skin became crispy and I think it was much better than the ordinary Turkmen burek.

Ordinary burek has softer skin and it’s a bit oilier. Both are good as a snack but I think there’s a lack of balance in their diet when Turkmen eat burek solely at meal. I suppose the Japanese will not like to eat that way – five or six burek at once. *******

An idea came to me when I boiled kiwifruit jam for the first time. Kiwifruit is easy to jellify because it contains a lot of pectin. I used to bake raspberry bars in Sweden, which I’ve learned from Sunny (http://www.teruko-san.com/) so I wanted to replace raspberry with kiwi. It’s not possible to pick berries like in Sweden here but kiwifruits can be bought very cheap, less than 2 SEK (or twenty cents) per kilo. I was sure it will work because kiwi has a sweet-and-sour taste just like raspberry.
The taste and the texture were successful, although the colour of the topping didn’t become greenish as I expected. I brought this to my mother-in-law’s place to have it with children. But I could not help feeling something strange, when I shared the sweets.
I think it’s natural to think that you want to serve a cake neatly, or beautifully, because I finished it off (or baked) pretty. But that doesn’t work among the Turkmen. They just poke the cake or lick the cake (before serving!) and don’t even care if a piece of cake is placed upside-down. When they replace a piece, they kind of throw it. And it’s not the children who do that but the adults. Watching those attitude, I can’t help narrowing my brows. Sure, it’s just me who is feeling that way and everybody is happy eating the sweets. But let me say that even in Sunny’s recipe, as I remember, it was written that you should wipe that knife every time you cut the cake to make it look neat, you know??
It’s called “ak balyk (white fish)” in Turkmen, caught in Caspian Sea. Ak balyk seems to be not so common because of its relatively high price.
It was covered with big scales so I tried to take them away by a blunt knife; actually Khalil has done most of the work and he has taken away the internal organs as well. I could probably do the work if it was one fish but as he came home with this much fish around dark, we had to work in a hurry. When the sun goes down, all the work turns out to be difficult to do because there’s no light in our garden. We had to hang an oil lamp and Khalil has cleaned, cut and trimmed the eight big fish.

These are the internals taken out from the fish (above). Turkmen generally call all kinds of fish egg “caviar”. The white thing which looks like sausages are airy inside. I guess they’re something like a flotation ring for fish. I took them out and cooked the rest of the internals but it turned out to be a failure. The internals were much bitter than I thought! I must ask which part must be taken away before cooking next time.
Khalil cut the fish meat in half and we’re cooking them by grill or by frying. The grill which I asked from Japan is very useful. If I want to grill here, I have to go out and begin from making fire. But with this, I can grill many things easily on the cooking stove. Khalil was happy when I grilled eggplant with it and said he wants another grill in reserve.

I must say that the taste was an ordinary white fish. But when we eat grilled fish (or fried) with steamed rice, it arises my appetite and homesickness. Food that you’re used to eat brings you a better feeling of satisfaction, I think. What is different from Japan is that there’s no soy sauce and they drink yoghurt instead of (?) miso soup. I don’t think it goes with it. But it’s interesting that both miso and yoghurt are fermented food.


All the animals in our place are having good time, although they cause problems sometimes. Today, a calf which is left free has broke-in to a storage room and ate a lot of barley. There is a risk of dying by indigestion, if they eat those power food more than necessary. Khalil has restrained the calf and avoid it from drinking water for the rest of the day because if it drinks water after eating too much barley, the barley would swell in its stomach.The calf which is dying with full stomach is the brown one. Another calf is lying and resting beside her. King, the dog is also beside, taking a nap. Garaglok seems to be pregnant for the second time and I can see her stomach growing. She used to be easily scared by others but after she gave birth to the first puppies, she trained them as her supporter and gradually took a position as a queen among other dogs. Surprising.Cows still escape and run wild from time to time. Imagine that four big cows running around the town, kicking their hind legs up in the air. And Khalil chasing after them with a bar in his hand. They escape, by the way, mostly because I forget to lock the gate 🙂

Gachi-gachi and puppies of Garaglok (above). behind them is a calf which is growing. She is equally bad as other cows, always disturbing other calves when they eat. That’s why she’s restrained all the time.

Romeo (left) is running around the garden and trying to bother other animals. He seems to be more confident when I am around. Sometimes he is beating dog’s face with his both hands and with lots of meows. Dangerous. Chi-chan tends to sleep at home more than before these days, probably because of pregnancy.

Neighbor’s puppy, as an addition. Their house is under construction and nobody lives there yet. But they leave the dog in their garden from time to time. I have also seen a sheep flock coming inside and destroying their herb garden. I couldn’t help throwing food from the landing of our stairs to him because he is so small and cute! Later on I found out that Khalil was doing the same. Now the puppy comes close by wagging his tail when he sees me. If I could pat him on the head…

There is a site where we call “south garden”, a little away from our house. It’s called south garden simply because it lies on the south of our house. There is a huge storehouse in the site, where we save barley and other forage crops. So Naser has lots of work there, like powdering the crops, for example. He also goes to sell them by his truck when they’re ready.
There’s no way to go straight there from our place so we need to go around. But from the second floor or from our veranda, it shows very well. If I focus my eyes, I can even see people walking there. Today, Khalil went there to bring feed for cows before lunch but he never returned. So I decided to watch the garden from the window. I saw Naser’s truck came out from the garden and going on a road towards city. I watched for a while until it stopped on the way. It seems he got stuck in a mud. I heard the engine sound repeatedly but the truck was only moving up and down without going forward. Naser came out from the truck and looked somewhere around a tire and then started walking towards the garden. I guessed he went to ask help from Khalil.Then I decided to go up on veranda and watch what’s going to happen. Now I saw a yellow tractor coming out from the garden. It went around on an another way towards city and it’s almost dashing. It’s Naser again. I see, he wants to pull the truck by tractor from the mud. How many times did Naser repeat such a work? He has built the road on his own last spring but once the road is done, many other heavy machines used it and it came down partially.

I also saw Khalil walking towards the truck, when I saw the tractor dashing. After that, they’ve worked together and the truck went safely out to the city. It was Khalil who returned the tractor to the south garden. I wonder when he learned to drive a tractor?


Twenty days after restarting the incubator, chicken eggs have hatched.
A few days ago, Khalil bought another equipment and set it in a room. The equipment was also made by an used refrigerator. One or two days before hatching, he moved the eggs to the equipment and raise the humidity so that the hatchlings can easily break the eggshell. There is a fan on the bottom and that circulates the air inside. There’s a thermometer as well (but no hygrometer).In the box on the right, the eggs which were moved from the incubator on the nineteenth day lie. They’re about to hatch. We have no steamer in the box, which is supposed to be used to raise the humidity, so Khalil hanged a lot of wet cloth inside. The box on the left is the incubator and the one in the middle is for keeping the hatchlings. There are already more than four hundred quail eggs in the incubator, after chicken eggs. Khalil was polishing the eggs one by one with a sponge before he puts it in the rack. If you put them without cleaning, he says, the dirt left on the surface of the eggshells will evaporate and exhaust gas and that will influence the rate of incubation. I only watched all other work he was doing for chickens and quails, but decided to help the polishing work. I tried to choose big and shining ones and polished them. But I have to admit that I was doubting about the eggs that not many of them will become a hatchling because the eggs were old! The eggs were not our own but were again bought from someone this time.

When we were working together, Khalil said, “We became a real farmer, didn’t we?” A farmer? I never thought that way but it is certain that we spend most of the time taking care of cows, sheep and poultry. When I was a high school student, somebody called me “cow-chan” because  I was coming from Ibaraki Prefecture, where they believed as a rural area. Actually, I almost had no chance even to look at cows that time but this time I can proudly show off that I am the cow-chan.

About digital camera

Since I’ve started my blog, I am using Nikon D40, a digital single-lens reflex camera and I’m happy with it. It’s more important than one thinks to use a good camera, if you want to take good quality pictures. You can take good pictures even by using a less expensive compact digital camera but under many different conditions you will have to have some technical skills to make the pictures better. From that point of view, the digital single-lens reflex camera supports my poor photographing skill a lot.
The other day, one of our cats has played with my Nikon and dropped it on the floor from the kitchen bar. I was careless to put it on it. The camera body was safe but the lens seemed to be broken – it did not spin anymore when I wanted to focus. So I can not use D40 for a while.
Well, I was prepared for that, actually. When I went home the year before last, I bought an extra compact camera, presuming that D40 could get broken. Disappointingly, the compact camera got broken last summer before D40. It’s a camera named SZ-20 of Olympus and when you turn on the button, the lens will fly out and stand-by. The problem is that the button is touched easily from the outside and in my case, it was pushed from the outside of the felt case by accident. Perhaps the lens had no space to fly out and it got squeezed. After that it indicates “zoom error” and the camera never worked. I tried to turn it on once in a while but I could only see the “zoom error” indication.
But something magical has happened after the New Year. I was writing an E-mail to my friend in Japan to ask for a new camera because both of my cameras were broken. Just when I tried to explain about the error of SZ-20, “zoom error” indication has disappeared and the camera started working properly. In other words, it was fixed! When I said, “The God has fixed my camera!”, to Jalil who is a faithful muslim, he was shaking his head crosswise but I could not find other way to express such a phenomenon.
So, I can now take pictures again with the compact camera. Lucky me! Concerning the Nikon camera, I was thinking to send it to Nikon in japan for reparation but Jalil ordered a reparation in Iran. I’m a BIT worried (aren’t you?) but at the same time expecting because it will be much faster to receive the fixed lens, if it works. I suppose it will be better climate that time so I could take beautiful pictures again with the single-lens reflex camera.

Romeo sleeping on my monpe, taken by Olympus SZ-20.