As interesting and original Mongolia is with its historical past, its culinary traditions are just as original and exotic. Mongolian cuisine is a striking landmark of this Asian country.
Description of Mongolian cuisine
National Mongolian dishes arouse curiosity and caution among European travelers, despite the fact that the daily diet of the indigenous population always includes meat and milk – popular livestock products. Mongols, convinced meat eaters, do not degrease food and process it well thermally. This peculiarity of food on the territory of the country was formed by Asian nomadic tribes in ancient times.
Distinctive features of Mongolian cuisine
Until the end of the XX century. agricultural crops were hardly cultivated in Mongolia. Cereals, vegetables and fruits were used in small quantities. But with the first decade of the XXI century. culinary preferences are starting to change. Dishes of lamb, beef and dietary yak take the leading place, and cereals and root vegetables are used as an addition to meat delicacies.
Different types of cabbage are becoming popular: broccoli, cauliflower, and Peking cabbage. Salt and pepper remain the main flavor enhancers; spices are used in small quantities.
Some livestock products are considered dietary. Yak meat is rich in hemoglobin. It contains a lot of iron, which is easily absorbed by the human body. The use of this product helps to strengthen the immune system. Camel milk has many beneficial properties. It is less fatty than cow’s milk, it contains unsaturated fatty acids and vitamins B and C. Goat’s milk is also useful. It is nutritious, lowers blood cholesterol and is recommended for the elderly to prevent stomach and lung diseases.
Main products in Mongolian cuisine
Poultry products are used to a lesser extent by the Mongols, mainly chicken hatching eggs, for which demand is increasing. In this regard, in order to reduce the percentage of imports, poultry farms for raising laying hens are beginning to develop in Mongolia. The main products in Mongolian cuisine – meat, milk and flour – are necessarily present in the daily meal of the Mongols.
A rich meat diet for Aboriginal people is considered the most suitable and healthy, it is high in complete animal protein and fat. In the Gobi Desert, camel and horse meat predominate, in mountainous regions they hunt deer and wild goats. Industrial production provides lamb and beef for the entire population. The habitat of animals, pastures are located far from chemical enterprises, so Mongolian meat is considered environmentally friendly. In retail outlets, it is represented by a wide range of food products and is in demand not only in the markets of the country, but also abroad.
Mongolian meat is considered an environmentally friendly product.
Dairy and fermented milk products
Dishes made from different types of raw milk are present in the Mongolian daily menu. They replenish the body’s needs for vitamins and minerals. Ghee shar tos is added to meat dressings and used for stewing meat products and vegetables.
Dried cottage cheese aaruul and tarag drink with skimmed cream are popular. Delicious curdled milk and unsweetened yogurt are obtained from camel milk by fermentation with special whey. Dairy and fermented milk products in the form of cream, sour cream and kefir are a good source of energy for children.
Hospitable Mongols will always welcome you with a hot drink with a tart aroma. Taking a bowl and taking the first sip, not every tourist will feel the composition of a pleasant gustatory range. This is a brewed green tiled tea with the addition of fried flour, ghee and salt. This is the Mongolian cocktail of hospitality and is a must-try. They will share with you the technology of preparation and give you a compressed brick of green tea raw materials. A properly brewed cup of flavored drink can replace a full meal. Tea is a symbol of Mongolian well-being.
Basic cooking methods
Recipes for preparing dishes from animal products have been taking shape for centuries. Ancient Asian food processing methods include roasting animal carcasses with stones, drying meat for long-term storage, and steaming. Fermentation of mare’s milk for kumis, a favorite drink of the Mongols, is also an ancient tradition. In modern cooking, all technologies are used: stewing, roasting, smoking, baking flour products, etc. The main methods of cooking are due to the climatic and natural conditions of the country and are used in all aimags.
Kumis is a favorite drink of the Mongols.
Traditional national dishes
On holidays Naadam prepare mantuun buuz. This is not just a dish, but a national treasure of Mongolia, as the aborigines believe. The shape of the delicacy resembles a round yurt, and the hole in the middle of the item is a window in the roof, from where the smoke of the hearth comes out. The dish is made from yeast dough, delicious lamb meat is chosen for the filling – in this way of preparation, traditional national dishes turn out to be more delicious.
It is necessary to eat mantuun buuz according to the rules of etiquette: they bite through the dough at the bottom, carefully drink the rich aromatic broth, and then eat the rest.
Mongolian manti are considered to be the image of the art of cooking. They are sculpted from round pieces of unsalted dough, filled with meat filling and steamed. It is customary to eat them with your hands. Minced meat is most often made from fresh lamb and fat tail fat. The meat must be chopped, with this cutting it turns out to be more juicy. Onions, garlic and hot peppers are added to the filling. The shape of the delicacy resembles large Russian dumplings, but a hole is left in the middle of the product for steam to escape. Buuza is a fantastic treat. This is what connoisseurs of Mongolian cuisine call it.
Buuzy is a Mongolian dish made from fresh lamb and fat tail fat, which is usually eaten with your hands.
This is an exquisite game dish, the preparation of which depends on the results of the hunt. In the case of good prey, the carcass of the animal is cut, suitable pieces are selected and boiled until half cooked without salt. Then the broth is drained, and the meat is shifted with hot stones for additional heating inside the boiler. Vegetables are added: onions, potatoes, carrots, then everything is poured with rich broth with salt and pepper. The container is closed and a hunting lunch is cooked over the fire for an hour and a half. Horhog is a delicacy dish if prepared with fresh boar or saiga meat.
A popular dairy product is dried cottage cheese. It is prepared from cow’s cream on the basis of a special sourdough culture. After acidification, the curd mixture is boiled, salt, sugar or pepper are added, then defended and filtered. To remove excess moisture, the dough mass is placed under a press. The dehydrated pancake is cut into strips and dried. The resulting dry cottage cheese has a different taste: sweet, salty or sour-spicy, depending on the confectionery additives. This product attracts with its souvenir shape in the form of balls, cubes or rings. Aaruul is a treat that children love.
Aaruul is a favorite treat for children.
Gourmet baked goods made from unsalted dough in water with flour. This dish has several names: Mongolian cheburek, a large pie with meat or “pocket-pie”. For the filling, use chopped lamb or ground beef mixed with onions, peppers and garlic. The prepared dough is cut into pieces and rolled out. Put the filling on one half of the circle, cover the other and fasten the edges in the form of a curly braid. It turns out a closed “pocket”. Khushur is deep-fried on animal fat. Hot Mongolian pasties with a golden crispy crust are delicious.
This meat product is intended for long-term storage. This method of harvesting was invented in ancient times, but it is used both in modern production and at home. Lamb or camel meat is freed from tendons, cut into 20-30 cm strips and dried for a month in a shaded shelter. Processing conditions must be observed: dry weather and good ventilation are required. The strips become hard after drying. They are stored in chunks or twisted until granular. Borets are used for making broths or added to sutei tsai.
Homemade noodles with vegetables and stews are the hallmark of Mongolia. To prepare the dish, knead the dough (with an egg), beat until elastic and stand. After readiness, it is rolled thinly, rolled up and cut into noodles for drying. Onions and lamb or beef meat cut into narrow strips are fried in ghee. In the process of stewing over low heat, carrots and a little water are added to the cauldron. At the same time, the dried noodles are steamed and spread to the main products. Cuiwang is ready to eat after adding soy sauce and salt.
Cuiwang is a dish made from homemade noodles with meat and vegetables.
In Mongolia, they like fatty rich soup batan with lamb or beef broth. Before cooking, the meat is cut into large pieces and soaked in cold water for several hours. Meat stew is prepared with the addition of root vegetables: potatoes, onions and carrots. At the end of cooking, separately in the broth, grind the flour with pepper and salt well and pour the dressing into a saucepan. Batan will become more delicious after adding half a glass of full-fat milk or sour cream to it. Some housewives like to diversify the taste and color of the soup with tomatoes and paprika.
This delicacy is practiced among hunters, because special skills are required to prepare it. It is cooked, like khorhog, on a fire with the help of hot smooth stones. But there is a difference. After processing and cutting, the carcass of the animal is fried whole. In place of the entrails extracted from the body, meat is laid in large pieces, mixed with vegetables, spices and hot stones. Such filling is well tamped, supplemented with a liter of water, and the animal’s skin is sewn up. Boodog is fried over fire from all sides for several hours.
Mongolia’s popular hot drink is made from briquetted green tea leaves. So, 2-3 tbsp. l. pounded powder is steamed with 1 liter of boiling water and cooked on the stove for several minutes. Milk, ghee or flour fried in animal fat are used as essential ingredients in order to achieve a slight thickening of the liquid. Salting also gives the drink its characteristic taste, and lovers of a strong aroma add a pea of allspice to the bowl. Sutei tsai is used as the main drink throughout the day and is always served before meat dishes.
There is a festive kitchen
Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian New Year, is celebrated in February according to the lunar calendar. Treats for the holiday are prepared in advance.
Boortsog pastries decorate the festive table. This donut-shaped confection is laid out on plates in several layers, sprinkled with powdered sugar or poured over with honey. Boortsog is fried in animal fat until golden brown; it tastes like brushwood.
There is also a festive cuisine for meat lovers. The dish is called uuz. It is prepared from boiled lamb rump and head. The lamb tongue, the most delicacy part, is presented by the owners to the eldest.
Low-alcohol kumis, which is made from mare’s milk, is considered a priority Mongolian drink. This popular drink, freshly prepared, has a pleasant sour taste and is a good thirst quencher.
Due to the high content of live lactic acid bacteria, useful minerals and vitamins, national drinks are in great demand among the population: kefir, yoghurts and yogurt.
Among alcoholic beverages, the Mongolian version of vodka is widespread – arkhi, in the production of which the principle of fermentation and distillation of mare’s sour milk is laid.
Older Mongolians observe simple rules of etiquette related to cuisine, reception of guests and table behavior:
- invited guests are seated in a place opposite to the entrance to the room;
- the guest is served a bowl of food with the right hand, and the right elbow is supported with the left so that the hand does not flinch;
- take tea or kumis with both hands;
- it is customary to drink the proposed drink to the bottom, so as not to offend the owners;
- only the owners of the house pass the treats at the table;
- After finishing the meal, the guest expresses his gratitude for the welcome and delicious food with the words “Baerla! Ishain! “
Mongolian cuisine offers tourists a wide range of rare dishes not found on the European menu. Lovers of delicious food always have the opportunity to choose a familiar meal or an exotic option. In retail outlets, you can also buy souvenir food products with a local national flavor.