Kaymak is a creamy dairy product similar to clotted cream, made from the milk of water buffalos, cows, sheep, or goats in Central Asia, some Balkan countries, some Caucasus countries, Turkic regions, Iran and Afghanistan.
|Course||Breakfast and dessert|
|Place of origin||Turkic Central Asia|
|Region or state||Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq|
|Variations||Kaymar, Gaymar, Qaimar, Qaimaq|
The traditional method of making kaymak is to boil the milk slowly, then simmer it for two hours over a very low heat. After the heat source is shut off, the cream is skimmed and left to chill (and mildly ferment) for several hours or days. Kaymak has a high percentage of milk fat, typically about 60%. It has a thick, creamy consistency (not entirely compact due to milk protein fibers) and a rich taste.
The word kaymak has Central Asian Turkic origins, possibly formed from the verb kaymak, which means melt and molding of metal in Turkic. The first written records of the word kaymak is in the well-known book of Mahmud al-Kashgari, Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk. The word remains as kaylgmak in Mongolian, and with small variations in Turkic languages as qaymaq in Azerbaijani, qaymoq in Uzbek, қаймақ in Kazakh and Shor, каймак in Kyrgyz, kaymak in Turkish, gaýmak in Turkmen, კაიმაღი (kaimaghi) in Georgian, and καϊμάκι (kaïmáki) in Greek.
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Shops in Turkey have been devoted to kaymak production and consumption for centuries. Kaymak is mainly consumed today for breakfast along with the traditional Turkish breakfast. One type of kaymak is found in the Afyonkarahisar region where the water buffalo are fed from the residue of poppy seeds pressed for oil. Kaymak can also describe the creamy foam in the traditional "black" Turkish coffee. Kaymak is traditionally eaten with baklava and other Turkish desserts, fruit preserve and honey or as a filling in pancakes.
Known as kajmak, it is almost always produced in the traditional way, in private households; commercial production is also gaining in popularity, but the best kajmak is sold at markets in some countries on the Balkans. Kajmak is most expensive when freshest—only a day or two old. It can keep for weeks in the fridge but it becomes hardened and not as tasty as the fresh kajmak. Kajmak can also be matured in dried animal skin sacks, and this variation is called skorup. The word kajmak can also describe the creamy foam in the traditional "black" Turkish coffee in the Balkans.
It is usually enjoyed as an appetizer or for Saturday morning breakfast, as Saturdays are considered open-air market days where best kajmak is found, but also as a condiment. The simplest recipe is lepinja sa kajmakom (bun bread filled with kaymak in Serbia) consumed for breakfast or as fast food. Bosnians, Montenegrins, Serbs, and Macedonians consider it a national meal. Other traditional dishes with kajmak (sold in restaurants) include pljeskavica sa kajmakom (the Balkan version of a hamburger patty topped with melted kajmak), as well as ribić u kajmaku (beef shank, simmered with kajmak).
In Iraq, it is called Gaimar, Geymar or Qaimar and is very popular. Possibly derived from the ancient Sumerian word "Gamur" or Ga'ar which means cheese. Iraqi Gaimar is usually made from the rich, fatty milk of water buffaloes which are prevalent in the marshes of Southern Iraq. It is available both factory produced and from local vendors (farmers) commonly known as Arab, Arbans or Madan, thus the product is sometimes referred to as Gaimar Arab, Gaimar Maadan, or farmer's Gaimar.
Iraqis like to serve Gaimar for breakfast with fresh bread, honey or jam. However the most popular way is to spread it on a type of Iraqi pastry bread called "Kahi", smother it with date honey and then wash it down with hot tea. Gaimar on kahi with date syrup is a long-standing traditional breakfast all over Baghdad and throughout the whole of Southern Iraq.
In Iran, sarshir is used to describe a different method which does not involve heating the milk, thus keeping enzymes and other cultures of the milk alive. The word kaymak (qaymaq) is also used for the boiled method. Qaymaq is a Turkish word used to describe this product among the Azari people of Iran.
In Afghanistan, Qaimak (qaymaq) has a thinner quality and is eaten for breakfast meals usually with bread. People typically top qaimak with honey, sugar, or mix it with jam. You can spread qaimak on pastries or even put it in milk tea. Qaimak can be purchased at any local grocery store in Afghanistan or of course made at home. It is quite a long process to make at home some might think the work isn’t worth it. Hours of stirring the milk pot and collecting the product can be eaten within the hour for breakfast. Qaimak can be found at any Afghan/Iranian grocery stores in the west but take note that the prepackaged jars are not as rich and real as the qaimak that is homemade. While a lot qaimak variations are made from buffalo milk, Afghan qaimak can be made from regular cow milk.
In the Adjara region of Georgia, bordering Turkey, კაიმაღი or kaimaghi is made from cow milk in homes in the mountainous municipalities of Keda, Shuakhevi, and Khulo. It is typically eaten with Georgian cheese and/or bread, and is only rarely served in restaurants.
Kaimaki in Greece refers to mastic-flavored ice cream that is widely available and often served alongside traditional desserts.
Media related to Kaymak at Wikimedia Commons