Meet Fatima and Aibek!
Fatima and her husband Aibek are from the Dungan ethnic minority group - Muslim people from China who were unfortunately used as slaves right up until the 19th century. They managed to flee to Russia and Central Asia when the Soviets abolished slavery in the region. Today the Dungan people make up about 1% of Kyrgyzstan's population. After some fascinating days up at Altyn Arashan, we pulled into Karakol on the edge of Issyk Kul for the night.
Our local guide told us about a family who welcomed travellers into their home to taste their traditional food. Of course we couldn't wait to check it out! Fatima has been cooking for 7 years, and believes that you cannot be taught to cook. Instead it is in your genes.
We called at 11.30am to let her know we were coming, and by 8pm she had prepared 11 different dishes for our group of 15. It was by far the best meal we have had in Central Asia!
Fatima and Aibek have two sons, one daughter and two grandsons. They plan to open a guest house in the future, but for now supplement their small income by running the restaurant from their home. They aren't in the guidebooks or on Trip Advisor. Their business relies solely on word-of-mouth. After the incredible hospitality we experienced, we hope the word spreads near and far.
Jezza and Lesh