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Nomadic and Nature Travel Mongolia

Food & Drinks

RED FOOD - MEAT PRODUCTS

 

 

          Meat, primarely beef and mutton, is the basis of a traditional mongolian diet. Mongolians eat more meat during the cold seasons.We have specific methods of preservingmeat. The most widespread method isair –drying or as we say, bortsloh. The Beef is cut into long strips which are hung in the shade thus drying the meat very quickly, becoming so hard that you can not cut it. Before using the dried meat called borts, it is powdered then put into boiling water. In a minute you get a nourishing broth. The soldiers of the Mongol empire used to keep dried meat under their saddles and chew a piece of it as they rode along.

          Horse meat is “of hot quality” as we say, and eaten only during the coldest winter months. Mutton or sheep meat is mainly used in autumn and winter.Beef is perfect for conserving. It is mainly dried and used in spring. In the late spring we use Goat meat which is “of cold quality”.It is used for treatment of old or weak people. Fish is beginning to be widely available as well.

          Boodog is the whole carcass of a goat roasted from the inside out. The entrails and bones are taken out through the throat.The carcass is then filled with glowing hot stones and the neck tied tightly. The goat is now cooked from the inside out.

          Another Mongolian speciality is the Khorhog. It is prepared by cutting up the meat of the sheep orgoat and placing it in a container together with hot stones, while heating from the outside. Optionallyvegetables can be added as well as pepper and salt. Khorkhog was actually a method commonly used by soldiers on their campaigns of conquest.The advantage of Boodog is that there was no necessity to carry around any utensils. Making Boodog or Khorkhog is usually the mans task.

 

WHITE FOOD - MILK PRODUCTS

 

          The traditional Mongolian Kitchen includes a number of unique dairy products which we refer to as “white food” (tsagaan idee).Included in “tsagaanidee” are different types of yoghurts(tarag, aarts), cottage cheese(byaslag), dried curds(aarul ), and fermented mare’s milk (airag). Airag is preferably made in autumn after the animals have eaten their full of summer grasses. It may be further distilled to produce mongolian vodka (shimiin arkhi) – best consumed when warm and fresh. After a diet heavy on meat in winter, Mongolians have dairy products starting from late spring “to clean the stomach”.Dairy products are the main dish of Mongolians in the summer months. Summer isreferredto as the “white season” because the nomads work around the clock to process milk to turn it into dairy products.These products are usedto last them through the harsh wintermonths. Mongolians have necessarily found creative and ingenious ways to use the milk of all five livestocks. Each of their milk quality and nourishment has been defined thoroughly in thousands of years of experience.Interestingly the way milk gets used/ processed aredifferent in each region and province or even families which can be explained bydifferent weather and environmentalcircumstances or different traditions.

 

THE GREEN FOOD – VEGETABLE AND PLANTS

          Mongolians lived close to the nature,herding the livestock and moving from pasture to another.This is why the Mongolians supplemented their protein diet with local herbs and greens when they could find, or grow them. These crops included hundreds of different wheat, plants, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and nuts. Lately Mongoliansstarted gardening / producing numbers of vegetables on their private plots.

 


 

THE YELLOW FOOD - BUTTER AND OIL

 

 

          Due to long harsh weather periods after a short summer Mongolian animals put on weight very rapidly in a short period of time.The yellow food which includes many types of fat, grease and butter are consumed by most of the Mongolians. They are main ingredients of our daily food especially in the colder months. Newborns are given sheep tail to chew/suck on which provides nutrition. Also considered as yellow food are milk cream (urum), butter (tos), melted butter(shar tos) and many more. These are nourishing and nutritious and there are many ways to process them and use themas foodor even for medical treatment.

 

THE BLACK FOOD – WATER AND DISTILLED MILK VODKA

          Water is a treasure that brings life, the Mongolians consider it to be the essence of any beverage. We developed different ways to use water for healing purposes which is part of the traditional medicine. Morningdew, rain or snow water are highly valued.Tea brewed with this kind of water is a good way to heal cold or internal diseases. Also considered a black food is the Mongolian milk vodka, Shimiin arkhi or Nermel vodka. It is vodka distilled from yogurt and one of the main alcoholic specialties.The other one would be the fermented mare’s milk, Airag. Airag is a bit sweat and low grade.Nermel vodka warmed with butter,is used for treatment ofthe elder or weak people. Mongolians never endorsed drinking vodka heavily which is why we say that “when you are forty, you can taste it, when fifty, you can sip a bit, and when you are sixty, you can have some to enjoy”.

 

BELOW ARE BASIC INFOS ON TRADITIONAL FOOD AND AVAILABLE FOODS:

BUUZ – steamed large dumplings made of dough, filled with meat, onion and garlic. Buuz are widely served particularly in large quantities during the Tsagaan sar (white moon), the Mongolians New year.Not seldomly as many as 1000 dumplings are prepared and frozen for their guests.

BANSH –  smaller version of buuz which also can be boiled in soups or the famous Mongolian milk and butter tea.

KHUUSHUUR – large meat filled dough pockets usually fried or deep fried. Supermarkets in Ulaanbaatar provide all sorts of freshproducts. Locally produced milk and cream are not pasteurized which means they have to be boiled before drinking. Vegetables are available, either locally or imported. Locally made bread and pasta may be available. Out in the countryside they may be non-existent.

MILK TEA – The Mongolian milk tea is madewith a small quantity of tea leaves - typically from brick tea -added to a pot of salted water. The water is thenboiled, whereupon a quantity of milk equivalent to about 1/3 the amount of water is added.The brew is repeatedly scooped with a ladle and poured back into the pot to mix the drink and allow it to foam. Milk tea can optionally be mixed with rice, flour, clotted cream and even pieces of meat to give it more substance.It is also consumed withthe home-made “boortsog “ - fried pastry. The central role of tea in the traditional Mongolian diet provides clear evidence of the importance of the nomads' participation in international trade over many centuries. Indeed prior to the adoption of an official Mongolian currency in the early 20th century, commercial prices were commonly listed in units of brick tea