Mongolian food refers to the culinary preparations of Mongolia, a land locked country in Central and East Asia. The food here mainly consist of meats and dairy products consumed by nomads inhabiting this region. Spices and vegetables do not form a major part of Mongolian food. Russian and Chinese influences can be seen in many Mongolian dishes due to historical relations and geographic proximity with China and Russia. Even the extremity of continental climate in Mongolia also greatly affects the traditional diet of Mongolians.
Commonly Used Ingredients
Animal husbandry has been a traditional occupation of Mongolian people, and meats of cattle, camels, yaks, goats, sheep and horses form a major part of Mongolian food. Meats are used in various forms. They can be cooked and added to various dishes or shaped into meatballs, or preserved in dried form for consumption during winters.
Animal fat, another important part of Mongolian food, is being as an essential requirement for Mongolians to protect themselves from extreme cold conditions during winter season.
Dairy products like milk, cream and cheese are also essentially used to make various Mongolian dishes. Milk and cream is often used to prepare Mongolian drinks and beverages.
Barley is an important cereal ingredient of Mongolian food, which is fried and malted to prepare porridge.
Mongolian dishes are usually meat based, and mutton is particularly used. Here are some of the popular dishes from Mongolian cuisine.
- Buuz - A type of steamed dumplings filled with meat. Other variants to this type of Mongolian food include Bansh, which is a boiled dumpling, and Khuushuur, a deep fried dumpling.
- Gurilatai shol - A noodle soup from Mongolia.
- Khorkhog - A grilled meat dish spiced up with sauce that is traditionally prepared on special occasions like festivals and hair cutting ceremonies.
- Sutei Tsai - A kind of salted milk tea. The addition of ingredients like meat, rice or Bansh makes it a delicious soup.
While traveling in Mongolia, one comes across roadside restaurants or yurts, which are marked 'guanz' and are run by Mongolian nomads. These simple restaurants are portable structures, where Mongolian food in cooked in cast iron pots on a stove. Fuels like wood or dried animal dung are used as a fuel. When a traveler enters a yurt, he or she is offered something to eat. Rejecting this food is considered rude, but eating some and leaving the rest is acceptable. Food is traditionally offered by the right hand while the left hand touches the elbow of the right hand.