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  Chak chak 1 Сладкое лакомство с необычным названием «чак-чак» готовится из традиционных продуктов — муки, молока, яиц, масла и меда. Чак-чак считается национальным блюдом Татарстана, расположенного в центральной России. Photo: Seber-ile.ru.

Fried Honey Cake from Tatarstan
By Kyle Mendes 

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Чак-чак (chak-chak) is a dessert food made from deep-fried dough drenched in a hot honey syrup and formed into a certain shape, most commonly a mound or pyramid. It is popular all over the former Soviet Union. In Russia, чак-чак is especially popular in the Tatar and Bashkortostan republics, where it is considered a national dish. While the basic recipe is always very similar, how it is made differs from region to region. Its simple, soft dough is cut into small pieces that can resemble either short noodles, (such as is common in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), or balls, (as is common among Tatars and Kazakhs).  

Почему он носит такое название?

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Although commonly spelled and pronounced чак-чак in Russia and Tatarstan, there are alternative, though related spellings and pronunciations. In Kazan, for example, it is often spelled чэк-чэк оr шек-шек. The name most likely came from the Tatar word "чәк-чәк," which means "just a little bit" in that language and is related to the Russian "чуть-чуть," which means the same thing. Given the light, addictive taste of this very caloric food, one can imagine countless grandmothers chiding their grandchildren to only eat "чәк-чәк" as they put a batch of the dessert on the table.

While the ingredients in чак-чак rarely change, the shape of the noodles (the individual pieces are actually called "лапша," or "noodles") and the shape of the finished version does (which, whatever shape is given, is always called a "торт" or "cake"). Sometimes the лапша are rolled into balls, sometimes formed into short pillars, and sometimes cut into short, thin strips.

The finished торт is most commonly formed into a big smooth mound, but people also might form it into circles, pyramids, loafs, or, as a dish for weddings, make the final shape into a more complex shape such as a heart or even a basket (which the symbolizes a "cornucopia," wishing the newly weds a happy and successful new life together). Modern, mass-produced чак-чак tends to be square, as that ships the most efficiently, although some homemade чак-чак is also made in blocks.

Как привильно есть чак-чак?

Чак-чак is a symbol of Tatar hospitality. Long ago, travelers were offered the treat upon their arrival in Tatarstan. One story says that чак-чак spread so widely around the former Russian empire because, as these travelers left, they would often ask to take more of the tasty treat with them and would share with others (a batch of чак-чак can last up to three weeks). Likewise, Tatars would bring чак-чак with them when traveling and offer it as gifts to people in other cities. One modern blogger reports that her mother has actually paid for taxi rides with чак-чак; thus, perhaps it's not too far of a stretch that the Tatar people could indeed use their treat as a kind of currency in other lands that had yet to experience the magic of чак-чак.

Chak chak 2
Раньше чак-чак не был повседневным угощением.
Его готовили к большим праздникам, дарили во
время свадеб. В наши дни свадебный чак-чак часто
приобретает колоссальные размеры и формы,
чтобы подчеркнуть его отличие от обычного
чак-чака. Так, к примеру, стало популярным
формировать из чак-чака съедобные корзины.
- Photo: AboutKazakhstan.com

Чак-чак is most traditionally eaten at special occasions (such as the arrival of a traveler) or for festive events (especially weddings, where it often substitutes for cakes in Tatarstan and even in Russia as a wider whole. However, чак-чак is also now a common snack food in Russia. In this sense it resembles cake in the West: a treat that can be a major part of important cultural institutions such as birthdays or weddings, but also readily available to anyone who gets the hankering for sweet, fried goodness.

Чак-чак is most often eaten by cutting little pieces from the mound.

Как правильно готовить чак-чак?

Чак-чак is an incredibly simple dish to make and requires no special ingredients that you might have to hunt for.

The Tatars were traditionally a rural people and famed beekeepers, so it seems natural that even a food so important to the culture would be made of simple, available ingredients (flour, eggs, salt, milk, oil, and, of course, honey). The procedure for making чак-чак at important events like weddings also became something of a cultural institution: some of the young ladies attending would make the dough, others would cut it, the bride would fry the pieces, and the eldest in attendance would make the syrup and form the final product. This practice is still widespread at Tatar weddings which serve чак-чак.

Свадебный чак-чак (wedding chak-chak) is common in Kazakhstan and Tatarstan and is not unheard of for Russians as well. Wedding чак-чак is often decorated with candy, dried fruit, hazelnuts and other украшения (decorations) as the hot syrup cools and the dish solidifies.

  Chak chak 3
Сейчас это блюдо стало практически повседневным.
При желании, его можно приобрести в любом
супермаркете или магазине города.

Besides its amazing and unique taste, another great thing about чак-чак is that you really don't need any special hardware to make it. All that's necessary is a bowl to beat the eggs, another to mix the dough, a thick pan with about a liter of oil (vegetable oil is the best choice) for frying, a pot for making the syrup, and a place to put the finished чак-чак and combine it with the syrup.

You can make one big final cake, a bunch of smaller ones, double or triple the recipe if you're having a huge party, cut or form the finished чак-чак into any shape you want, and choose your favorite candy, nuts, and/or dried fruits to add tasty decoration.

Of course, you can now buy plastic containers of чак-чак in most Russian supermarkets for a relatively low price. However, if you won't be in Russia sometime soon – or if you really want to taste how fantastic a fresh, homemade batch of чак-чак can be, you'll need to follow the recipe below.

Давай приготовим!

See below for a free recipe for chak-chak. See also the free videos online. If you are interested in cooking from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and other places in Eurasia, make sure to see our full, free Eurasian Cookbook online! You might also be interested in the following specialized cookbooks we've enjoyed:

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Чак-Чак по-татарски

- 5 яиц
- 3,5 - 4 стакана муки (стакан на 250 мл)
- ½ стакана молока (125 мл)
- 2 чайные ложки сахара
- ½ чайной ложки соли
- масло для жарки (лучше всего растительное масло)

Для сиропа:
350 гр меда
250 гр сахара

Выбить в чашку яйца, добавить сахар, соль, пол стакана молока. Муки добавить столько чтоб получилось мягкое тесто примерно как на пельмени. Готовое тесто выложить в чашку, чашку накрыть слегка влажным полотенцем, и оставить стоять на 1 час.

После этого раскатать тесто в пласт толшиной примерно 1 см и нарезать тонкие жгутики.

Жгутики нарезать на очень маленькие шарики.

Нагреть масло во фритюре или кастрюле и обжарить шарики до золотистого цвета. Обжаривать небольшими порциями чтобы шарики плавали в масле свободно.

Сложить уже обжареные шарики в глубокую посуду.

Приготовить сироп:
В кастрюле на среднем огне подогреть мед, постепено, помешивая ввести сахар. Держать на огне помешивая пока сахар не растворится.

Готовый, горячий сироп залить к шарикам, все хорошо и осторожно перемешать. Чак-чак переложить на плоское блюдо и сформировать смочеными в холодной воде руками пирамиду.


Tatar Chuk-Chuk

- 5 eggs
- 3.5-4 cups flour
- ½ cup milk (substitute vodka or cognac if you're so inclined)
- 2 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- frying oil (vegetable oil is best)

12 oz honey
9 oz sugar (about ½ cup)

Beat the eggs in a bowl, adding the sugar, salt, and milk. Add just enough flour to make a soft dough that resembles pelmeni dough (i.e. nice and soft). Put the dough in a pan, cover with a lightly damp cloth, and let rest for an hour.

After that, roll out the dough to a thickness of about one centimeter and cut it into small, thin strips.

Make tiny balls from the strips.

Heat some oil in a saucepan or pot (enough for deep frying) and fry the pieces until golden. Work in relatively small batches so the pieces can move freely in the oil and won't stick to one another.

Place the fried pieces in a deep bowl.

Preparing the syrup:  
Pour the honey in a saucepan on medium heat and gradually stir in the sugar. Hold the mixture over the heat, stirring constantly, until all the sugar is dissolved.

Once this is prepared, pour the hot syrup onto the чак-чак and mix it well and carefully. Lay the чак-чак on a flat plate, wet your hands with cold water (to prevent both sticking and burning) and form the чак-чак into a pyramid.

Original recipe here

Our Favorite Чак-Чак Videos

This charming cooking program features a woman making чак-чак of the noodle variety. Notice that she wets her hands before shaping the чак-чак at the end to prevent herself from getting burned by the 'очень горячий' чак-чак.

This program shows a cook who seems to be an old pro at making чак-чак. Notice how she adroitly forms the dough in a bowl, rolls the strips into thinner noodles, snips these noodles straight into the oil with scissors making homogenous pieces, makes sure the fried balls are evenly coated with syrup, and even spins the bowl when shaping the final cake to achieve symmetry.

There is a popular science program in Russia called "Galileo." In this longer, humorous, and amusing video, you'll learn how to make (and not make!) чак-чак, as well as how it is mass produced, why various steps and proportions are needed, and more!

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