Kaymak is a creamy dairy product similar to clotted cream, made from the milk of water buffalo, cows, sheep, or goats in Central Asia, some Balkan countries, some Caucasus countries, Turkic regions, Iran and Iraq.
|Course||Breakfast and dessert|
|Place of origin||Turkic Central Asia|
|Region or state||Iran, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, 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, because of 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.
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 made at home, though there is beginning to be commercial production. Kajmak is most expensive when freshest—only a day or two old. It can keep for weeks in the fridge but becomes harder and loses quality. Kajmak can also be matured in dried animal skin sacks; one variation is called skorup. Kajmak also describes the creamy foam in the Turkish coffee.
It is usually enjoyed as an appetizer or for Saturday morning breakfast, as Saturdays are market days with the best kajmak, but also as a condiment. The simplest recipe is lepinja sa kajmakom pita 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. 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, and so 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, sarsheer (سرشیر) 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 or 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. It can be spread on pastries or even added to milk tea. Qaimak can be purchased at grocery stores in Afghanistan or made at home. It is quite a long process to make at home, involving hours stirring the milk pot. Qaimak can be found at Afghan/Iranian grocery stores in the west, but is not as rich as homemade. While a lot qaimak variations are made from buffaloes' milk, Afghan qaimak can be made from cows' milk.
In the Adjara region of Georgia, bordering Turkey, კაიმაღი or kaimaghi is made from cow's 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.
Media related to Kaymak at Wikimedia Commons