If you’re looking for some new ideas for a healthy nutritious breakfast, keep reading. In this post, we share the traditional Balkan kaymak recipe. This dish actually originates from the Turkic tribes of Central Asia but it became very popular during the Ottoman Empire when it spread as far as the Balkans where it’s a very popular dish even today. In this recipe, we’ll show you exactly how to make a kaymak from the comfort of your home but let’s start from the beginning!
What Is Kaymak?
Kaymak is a creamy dairy product with a thick texture and a rich taste. The main ingredient for preparing kaymak is milk and the traditional method of preparing is boiling the milk and letting it simmer for a couple of hours at low heat. It’s a dairy-based dish but it contains around 60% of milk fat which means that it can be a great heavy breakfast that will keep you full for a long period of time.
The dish kaymak was mentioned for the first time in Mahmud al-Kashgari’s book, Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk. According to it, this dish first appeared among Central Asian Turkic tribes. Its name derives from the word “kaymak”, meaning to melt or to mold. Hence, it’s no surprise that in all Turkic countries in Central Asia this dish is known as kaymak (or kaimak) even today. However, the dish reached its glory during the Ottoman Empire when it became popular in most of the Balkan countries that developed their own version of the kaymak recipe and mastered it to perfection. This leads us to our next point…
As we mentioned in the beginning, this post will focus on the traditional Balkan kaymak recipe but kaymak is popular in a lot of other countries with the first and most obvious one being Turkey.
Kaymak is an irreplaceable breakfast ingredient for many Turkish people and a lot of people prepare it in their homes. Turkey is probably home to some of the most expensive variations of kaymak. For example, the Afyonkarahisar Region is famous for kaymak made from the milk of water buffalos that are fed pressed poppy seeds. In addition to serving it as breakfast, Turkish people also make sweet kaymak (this one is kind of similar to the Bengali sweet mishti doi) to combine it with their delicious local desserts like baklava, sekerpare, kadayif, etc.
In the Balkans, kaymak is usually eaten for breakfast or as an appetizer, but it can also be used as a side dish for many meat-based dishes.
The Iraqi version of kaymak is called geymar and is very popular. Similar to the Turkish/Balkan version, geymer is prepared of fatty milk from cows or buffaloes. A lot of people make it at home but it’s also available commercially. The most common way locals consume geymer is by spreading it on Kahi (a type of Iraqi pastry) or on local breads.
Kaymak is also popular in all Central Asian countries and other places where Turkic people live, like Afghanistan (known as Qaimak) and Georgia (known as kajmaghi).
This dish is also very popular in Iran, where it’s commonly known as sarsheer. However, this dish is slightly different; the milk isn’t boiled and all of its enzymes are kept alive, so trying this if you’re not used to it is probably not a very good idea.
How to make a kaymak at home?
In many countries in the Western hemisphere, you probably won’t be able to find fresh buffalo milk but don’t worry; we have an alternative. Just try mixing one liter of milk with a 30-35% whipping cream (also known as heavy cream). The ratio should be roughly 1-1 and that’s practically all you need (except for maybe salt or sugar/honey, depending on what you want to do with the kaymak).
Finally, don’t mix up kaymak with clotted cream. Clotted cream is prepared at a low oven temperature but kaymak is something else and we recommend you avoid using the oven for making kaymak. With that being said, in the Balkans, there are two basic variations of kaymak that differ in the preparation method. This leads us to our next point…
Young Kaymak vs Old Kaymak
The main difference between the two is in the storage time. Young kaymak is prepared by cooking the milk at a mild fire and leaving it at room temperature for 24 hours to cool down. It’s very important that you don’t touch or stir the kaymak during this time. After some time, you’ll inevitably notice the thick layer of kaymak forming on the surface. The next step is to store the kaymak in the fridge for 6-7 hours, after which the kaymak will be ready to serve.
If you want to prepare an old kaymak, on the other hand, you have to leave the young kaymak for a day or two and in the meantime add some newly cooked milk in the kaymak and keep an eye on the mix. With an old kaymak, it’s very important to remove the excess amount of fluid. When doing this, you can also keep the fluid aside and reuse it with the next batch. Old kaymak needs to be refrigerated for at least one week but from our experience, it’s tastiest when served two weeks after preparing.
Kaymak is one of the dishes that taste much better after being refrigerated. After the kaymak is prepared and ready to serve, you can store it in your fridge for up to 2-3 weeks but with every day after the 5th day, the quality will start to diminish, so keep that in mind.
You’ll find kaymak being served slightly differently in different countries but since this is a Balkan kaymak recipe, we’ll focus on the way kaymak is served in countries like Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, etc. Kaymak is usually served with bread like pogacha, zelnik, or proja and a cup of tea but it can also be served as a side dish with many different types of meat dishes.
A Few More Things You May Need
- 1 Liter Milk
- 750 Grams Whipping (Heavy) Cream (with 35% milk fat)
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoon Salt
1. Boil the milk in a shallow pan for 5 minutes.
2. After that, pour the heavy cream into the pan. It’s important to pour from as high as possible.
3. Mix the mixture well and cook it on low fire for approximately 2 hours.
4. Remove from heat and let the kaymak cool down for 7 hours.
5. Place the pan under heat again and let it simmer for another 30-40 minutes.
6. After this, it’s important not to mix or simmer anymore. Just let the mixture cool down and keep it in the fridge.
7. After 24 hours, remove the cream from the fridge and cut it into squares.
8. Serve it with some warm breads and a cup of tea or barbecue/another main dish and enjoy!
Serving Size:35 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 135Total Fat: 13.5gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 16mgCarbohydrates: 2.1gNet Carbohydrates: 2.1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0.6gProtein: 2.2g
Did you ever try kaymak? Does it seem like something you’d want to try? How did you like our kaymak recipe? Let us know in the comments!
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