Mongolian Food – What to Eat and What New to Definitely Try on The Steppe

Mongolian Food is distinct from that of any other culture or country. Mongolian Food represents the function-first approach that the land and culture demand, shaped by the region's generally barren natural characteristics and mostly nomadic style of life. Traditional Mongolian food includes meat and milk from livestock, particularly the Five Snouts: horses, yaks, camels, goats, and sheep, as well as their fat, which enables nomadic Mongolians survive hard winters.

While Mongolian beef may appear to be unlike the beef you've seen on menus on many famous restaurants (a dish that is actually Chinese, as cattle is considered a winter meat out on the steppe, and good luck finding mixed vegetables like broccoli and onions while you're at it), a culinary journey through this unique country is one worth taking. Eating Mongolian food is an authentic and memorable cultural experience, from cooking on hot stones to trying completely new proteins (marmot, anyone?). While you're visiting Mongolia to ride their legendary horses, sleep in a ger, or stargaze in the Gobi Desert, these Mongolian foods you'll almost certainly eat while there and would not want to miss

Buuz: Dumplings

These meat-filled steamed dumplings may be Mongolia's most well-known delicacy, as they're commonly available in both the capital and gers around the country. This Mongolian Food is eaten daily throughout Mongolia and is considered one of the best meals in Mongolian cuisine. It is the major food of Mongolia's Lunar New Year (families will spend days creating thousands of dumplings for Tsagaan Sar celebrations). These two-bite dumplings are usually filled with minced mutton and flavored with seasonal herbs (if accessible, which isn't always the case out on the steppe), and the animal fat adds a rich flavor.

Buuz Dumplings

Mongolian food Buuz, like dumplings in other Asian nations, can be made with a variety of ingredients and molded into a variety of shapes, so try them in as many provinces (the ones below are typical of the north) and gers as you can.

Tsuivan: Meat and Fried Noodles

Tsuivan Meat and Fried Noodles

Tsuivan is a fried noodle Mongolian food that is thought to have originated in China and is eaten with meat (typically mutton) and vegetables (cabbage, carrots, and potato). The flavor of this dish is absolutely unique to Mongolia, thanks to the fact that the meat is fried and then steamed in the same pot. The meat can range from mutton to horse to tail fat, and the noodles are normally cooked from scratch. Whatever is on hand, as the nomads do, is what will function best. You should have no trouble obtaining it everywhere in Mongolia because it is one of the most popular Mongolian food.

Meat Hot Pockets (Khuushuur)

Khuushuur

Khuushuur, another dumpling-like delicacy, is more closely associated with Russian food than with East Asian food. The meat is ground with onion or garlic, folded into a circle of dough, and deep fried into its final form, whether it's sheep, camel, or anything else. This Mongolian food is  similar to an American hot pocket in that it's a meat-filled dough pouch that you hold in your hand, but it's made with Mongolian components rather than Italian ones. Size, shape, and protein content can vary, but the greatest part is that this Mongolian food is easy to find just about anywhere in Mongolia, making you a khuushuur expert in no time.

Boodog: Meat Cooked on Hot Stones in the Carcass

Mongolian barbecue has found its way to America, but boodog — a barbecue style Mongolian food in which the dish is cooked within a carcass – is still a Mongolian specialty (for reasons that we think are pretty apparent). The most popular animals to barbecue are goats and marmots, which are both cooked by slipping hot stones into the inside of the carcass once the meat has been detached from the skin.

Boodog

It's common on the steppe or anywhere there are outdoor activities, as boodog is generally served to large groups of people on special occasions. Mongolians (and willing tourists) like to massage the used stones between their hands after the food is finished cooking, believing it would improve their health (and certainly does wonders if you have dried out skin).

Khorkhog: Mongolian Barbeque

Khorkhog

Mongolian barbecue is comparable to using a pressure cooker, with pieces of meat placed within a closed container (imagine a giant metal milk jug), layers of meat alternated with massive hot stones, and the concoction covered with water. Potatoes may be added to the layers if you're lucky, and they'll get nice and tender during the cooking process. The jug is left alone for one to two hours over an open fire. Despite its rarity in restaurants,  Mongolian food khorkhog is a popular rural meal, and like boodog, it's served straight from the pot, stones and all.

Guriltai Shul - Noodle and Meat Soup

This Mongolian food is another classic staple, this meat-based noodle soup usually includes a clear mutton stock, veggies, and, of course, hand-made noodles. Guriltai shul contains two distinct flavor profiles: raw umami from the beef and acidity from the yak's milk curds. Mutton is meat from a sheep that is over a year old, whereas lamb is meat from a sheep that is under a year old. This soup is believed to be exceptionally nutritious, because to the addition of vegetables, which is unusual in Mongolia.

Guriltai Shul

Guriltal shul, like most Mongolian meals, isn't particularly spice-heavy, but it's nevertheless a flavorful soup. After a long day of working with animals or driving through the countryside, sitting around the ger stove with a bowl of this stuff comforts your soul.

Boortsog- fried dough.

Boortsog

This fried dough delight is made with salt, sugar, water, butter, and flour, and is usually served with sugar, butter, or yogurt. Boortsog is a Mongolian food and a type of  biscuit or cookie that is eaten throughout Central Asia and is often mistaken for donuts. In Mongolia, boortsog is most typically dipped in tea (suutei tsai) and eaten as a biscuit or cookie. These flattened pieces of dough are typically cut into little squares or triangles, then swiftly fried in mutton fat or vegetable oil (depending on what the herder has on hand) and served in a bowl carried around the ger.

Aaruul-Dried Cheese Curds

Aaruul-Dried Cheese Curds

Aaruul is one of the main Mongolian food that is consumed by Mongolia's nomadic peoples throughout the summer months. Sheep, goat, cow, and yak milk are the most popular sources of aaruul, which can be seasoned with herbs for a savory dish or sweetened with honey and fruit for a sweeter dish. Aaruul contains sour overtones that distinguish it from the salty curds ubiquitous in Canada and the Northern United States. You will benefit from the vitamins and calcium that have maintained the teeth of nomadic Mongolians strong for years, regardless of the form in which it is provided - hard, soft, oily, sweet.

Yak Yogurt and Yak Butter

Yak Yogurt and Yak Butter

Because cattle aren't tough enough for Mongolia's steppes, the yak, with its thick coat, plays a larger role in Mongolian culture and food. Yaks generate a rich milk that is ideal for fuelling hardworking nomads in harsh climes, as well as other dairy products like butter and yogurt. The butter's high fat level gives it a cheese-like consistency, while the yogurt is thick and sour, but it's frequently sweetened to balance off the natural flavor.

Salty Milk Tea - Suutei Tsai

Salty Milk Tea

This milk tea is different from other milk teas from Eastern Asia that Americans may be more familiar with. Tsai is a traditional herder's drink in Mongolia, created from a simple formula that incorporates salt, which gives a flavor profile that visitors may find difficult to adjust to. It is, nevertheless, a typical beverage given with meals, including many of the items listed above, and is frequently presented to guests by hosts, particularly upon entering a family's ger. Because of its widespread appeal, tsai can be found all throughout the country, and you can even take some home in the shape of a dehydrated packet.

Airag - Fermented Mare's Milk

Airag

Mongolia's national drink is primarily enjoyed in rural regions during the summer, but it is also served at special events throughout the year. The sought mare's milk is used to make this alcoholic beverage, which is fermented in an open leather sack known as a khukhuur. When drunk in moderation, Airag is said to boost general health and plays a vital part in festivities and summer festivities such as Naadam. With horses playing such an important role in Mongolian culture, airag is another custom linked to these divine beasts that contributes to Mongolia's uniqueness. Especially for the more daring diners and drinkers.

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