Chal

Chal is a Central Asian beverage made by fermenting camel milk.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
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Fact: Chal is an exotic beverage only found in Central Asia.

Flag of Turkmenistan#4 in Turkmenistan

Flag of Uzbekistan#5 in Uzbekistan

Flag of Kazakhstan#5 in Kazakhstan

Basic Information

Chal: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/ch-aa-l/

Alternative Name(s)

Shubat

Drink Type

Cold non-alcoholic beverages

Mealtime

Anytime

Popular Variations

Homemade and store-bought chal
Origin and Region

Chal: Origin and Region

Origin

Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan,
Kazakhstan

Continent’s Region

Central Asia

Country’s Region

Nationwide Origin

Associated Region

Unspecified
Chal Origin Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Chal: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Camel milk

Main Preparing Method

Fermenting

Preparation Process

Fermenting camel milk for 3–4 days, mixing with fresh milk
A Deep Dive

Chal: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

A unique drink difficult to find outside Central Asia

Taste

Sour and slightly salty

Texture

Fizzy

Aroma

Strong and slightly pungent

Color

White

Serving Style

In a bowl or glass

Serving Temperature

Cold (commonly) or at room temperature

Accompaniment

Consumed on its own or paired with traditional Central Asian foods

Occasions

On any occasions

Calories

Unspecified

Popularity

Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan

Popular Similar Drinks

  • Kumis
  • Ayran

Popular Dining Area

Local households, eateries, supermarkets

Chal, or shubat, is a traditional beverage made from fermented camel milk in Central Asia, especially in Turkic countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

Chal Infographic

Due to its main ingredient, chal has a distinctly sour and raw flavor, tinged with some salty and earthy notes.
Chal is fizzy and as white as yogurt. The thin layer on top of the fermented milk is called agaran (fermented cream).

There are two main types of chal: homemade chal and store-bought chal. The former tastes richer and is less fermented and sour, while the latter is very tangy and fizzy.

Commercially prepared chal is available at many stores and supermarkets in Central Asia. Many people in Turkmenistan even consider chal their country’s national beverage.

Chal is a staple summer drink to serve with many iconic foods in the region, such as beshbarmak (boiled meat over egg noodles), boortsog (fried dough dessert), laghman (noodle dish), and samsa (baked savory pastry).

Read on, and I will tell you everything there is to know about chal, such as its health benefits, its pros and cons, the questions people ask about the fermented camel milk drink, and similar beverages.

Key Points

  • Chal is a Central Asian fermented beverage made from camel milk.
  • Chal has a unique sourness with a slightly salty flavor and pungent smell.
  • Chal is available in two main forms: homemade and store-bought.
  • Rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, chal offers many health benefits.

Chal Images

What Are the Health Benefits of Chal?

Chal is very nutritious thanks to being made from camel milk, which is richer in vitamins and minerals yet lower in saturated fat than cow milk, according to Healthline. Chal is rich in protein, vitamin C, vitamin B-complex, iron, and calcium, among others.

The Central Asian staple drink offers several health benefits, such as stimulating appetite, aiding digestion, strengthening the immune system, lowering blood sugar levels, and aiding brain function.

In addition, chal is generally safer for people with lactose intolerance since camel milk is easier to digest than many other types of milk.

With those benefits in mind, check out the pros and cons of chal to see whether you should try it.

Pros and Cons of Drinking Chal

Below are the advantages and disadvantages of chal:

Pros

  • Nutritional Value: Chal is rich in essential protein, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Digestive Health: Fermented beverages like chal can promote gut health due to probiotics.
  • Natural Production: Homemade chal is often made without artificial additives.
  • Cultural Significance: Chal is an exotic drink representative of Central Asian culture.

Cons

  • Acquired Taste: The pronounced sourness of chal might not be palatable to everyone, especially those unfamiliar with camel milk.
  • Limited Availability: Chal is challenging to find outside Central Asia due to the rarity of the raw ingredients and storage difficulties.
  • Health Concerns: Like all fermented dairy products, chal can become a source of foodborne illnesses if not prepared or stored properly.

After weighing down the pros and cons of consuming chal, broaden your knowledge of the fermented beverage with the popular questions people have about it.

Chal FAQs

No, chal isn’t alcoholic because it only contains a tiny amount of alcohol, approximately 1%.

No, chal is a traditional drink unique to Central Asia and rarely found elsewhere. However, many countries in the Middle East and Africa, where people also drink camel milk, have similar beverages.

Homemade chal can stay good for 2 – 3 days at room temperature and 5 – 7 days in the fridge. Meanwhile, store-bought chal can last many weeks, but check the best-by date on the package for more information.

Chal is made by fermenting camel milk, while kumis is a fermented mare milk beverage.

Similar Beverages of Chal

Kumis

Kumis is a fermented beverage made from mare milk in Mongolia and Central Asia.

Ayran

Ayran is a Turkish cold drink made from yogurt, water, and salt.

Adam Sam

Adam Sam

Senior Food and Drink Editor

Expertise

Food Writer & Recipe Developer, Recipe Tester, Bartender, Cooking-video Maker, Editor In Chief

Education

  • University of Gastronomic Sciences – Pollenzo (Italy) (MA Food Culture, Communication & Marketing)
  • Johnson & Wales University (US) (Baking and Pastry Arts)
  • Professional Bartender at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Adam Sam, an experienced food writer and recipe developer, is passionate about blending diverse culinary traditions, national dishes, and innovative beverages, showcasing his proficiency in both traditional and modern recipe testing.

As the Editor-in-Chief, he elevates culinary content from street food to fine dining, focusing on Western cuisine and types of drinks at azcuisines.com, and is professional in creating engaging cooking videos that simplify complex dishes and ingredients.

His passion for food is evident in his writing, where he uniquely merges various cultures, traditions, and contemporary trends, skillfully combining classic recipes with modern cooking methods.

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