Top 20 Most Popular Drinks & Foods in Mongolia
Mongolian cuisine is influenced by the region’s continental climate, as well as Russian and Chinese cultures to an extent. This nomadic cuisine’s staple diet consists primarily of meat and dairy, with minimal use of vegetables.
Horse, yak, beef, lamb, and even camel are all delicacies in Mongolia. If you are looking for a flavor burst with spices, you will only get salt and onion.
But it’s more than you think. Mongolians drink a lot of milk tea (suutei tsai), wild fruit juice, and home-brewed alcoholic beverages.
Horse, yak, beef, lamb, and even camel are all delicacies in Mongolia.
For breakfast and snacks throughout the day, a variety of dairy products are available. Locals always have pastry and fried bread for breakfast and lunch. We’ve put together a list of the most popular Mongolian dishes and beverages that you’ll undoubtedly encounter in the city or on the steppe.
Most Popular Mongolian Meat-based Dishes:
1. Khorkhog: Stone Powered Mongolian Barbecue
Khorkhog is usually made with mutton or lamb. None of the sheep is wasted; we use almost everything: intestines, offal, skin, and etc. What makes this dish unique is that it is cooked with stones! I don’t mean cooked on stones or cooked in a stone oven, it is actually cooked with stones.
The stones are placed in a fire place (Zuukh) or in a campfire until they are red hot. The meat is placed on the bottom of a traditional pot (togoo), the stones are placed on top, and then of top of them, sit the vegetables.
Khorkhog is a nomadic recipe mostly eaten in rural areas of the country and is not widely found in cities. It is seldom served in restaurants, not even in the capital.
2. Buuz: Steamed Dumpling
Buuz, also known as steamed Mongolian dumplings, is the epitome of Mongolian cuisine. Street vendors and home cooks alike serve these delicious little pockets of meat.
They are often made for Mongolian lunar New Year celebrations (Tsagaan Sar). Buuz is a blend of all the components of Mongolian cuisine in a single dumpling. They’re usually made with fatty mutton, as is the majority of Mongolian cuisine. They’re also spiced with cumin and sometimes parsley, which allows the flavor of the meat to seep through.
3. Boodog: Traditional Roasted Meat
Mongolian warriors rode their horses carrying what little they owned. As they couldn’t be weighed down by porcelain or clay cookware, they used animal carcass as crockery. These armies incorporated food preparation into their nomadic lifestyle.
The unfortunate marmot or goat that was stuffed with its own meat and cooked over an open flame became known as boodog. To make boodog (pronounced “baw-dug”), the butcher cuts the animal from neck to groin, carefully removing the meat and bones while leaving the skin intact. He then spices the meat (including the liver and kidneys), stuffs it with hot stones and vegetables, and reseals the leg.
In some ways, it is superior: a barbecued animal tastes way better than one cooked in a clay pot.
4. Tsuivan: Stir Fried Noodle
Tsuivan is a Mongolian noodle dish usually made with mutton and various vegetables. Traditionally, the noodles are made by hand and steamed or fried with diced meat and vegetables.
Mutton is often substituted for beef, camel, or even horse meat, and the vegetables used in the dish are usually onions, peppers, cabbage, carrots, or potatoes. Tsuivan is popular throughout the region, and it is best served fresh and garnished with scallions. The meatiness of the stew blends with the unhampered flavor of the vegetables to create a unique taste.
5. Buudatai Huurga: Mongolian Beef Fried Rice
Budaatati huurga is a popular Mongolian rice dish. To prepare it, cook the rice with shredded beef or lamb, eggs, cabbage, onions, bell peppers, and carrots. Soy sauce, cumin, and chili flakes or chili powder are commonly used to season the dish. When all of the ingredients are completely cooked and soft, and the rice on the bottom becomes crispy, it’s time to eat. You may use boiled, unseasoned beef or you can substitute roast or another form of beef. If you use seasoned beef, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe.
You can use chilled, freshly cooked rice or leftover rice. This fulfilling food, which can be served both for lunch or dinner, has a delightful piquancy to it.
6. Chanasan Makh: Meat Chunks Boiled in Salted Water
Boiled innards and boiled beef is the most traditional, basic, and common dish among Mongolian nomads. The meat of an animal (usually mutton) is cut into chunks and cooked in salted water until tender. Originally, this was the whole meal; however, vegetables or a condiment such as Ketchup are typically included. The meat is eaten with the fingers and a sharp knife.
7. Khuushuur: Fried Dough with Meat Filling
In Mongolia, heartiness is still on the menu. Huushuur is a delicious, traditional snack that never disappoints. Fine Dining Lovers delve deeper into this delectable delicacy:
“Then there’s the delectable Huushuur, which are fried pastries filled with minced meat and spices. They are usually served during Naadam, Mongolia’s most popular and important national holiday, but they are available all year. Wild leeks, garlic, or nettles are often added to the mix to make it more fragrant and lighter, but it is still filling.”
8. Guriltai Shol: Mongolian Mutton Ramen
Mutton is a common meat in Mongolian cuisine, and you’re sure to come across several variations of it on your journey. Mongolian noodle soup, or guriltai shul, tops the list for the most flavorful mutton-based dish with an Eastern twist. Mongolians use the fattiest mutton to ensure an authentic flavor, and they finish the dish with noodles, vegetables, and stock.
9. Uuts: Steamed Mutton Back
Huushuur isn’t the only special occasion food you can try. The notorious Naadam Festival does not serve uuts. It is instead reserved for New Year’s Eve and has its own unique past. To ensure the most succulent, savory dish, the back and tail of mutton or sheep are steamed for up to five hours in a specially built chamber. Uuts is a true show stopper, and it was believed to have been eaten at large celebrations in ancient times.
10. Boortsog: Fried Puff Pastry
Boortsog is a type of fried dough found in Central Asian, Idel-Ural, Mongolian, and Middle Eastern cuisines. It is usually formed into triangles, but it can also be shaped into spheres. Flour, yeast, milk, eggs, margarine, salt, sugar, and fat make up the dough. Boortsog is commonly served as a dessert, covered with sugar, butter, or honey.
They are similar to cookies or biscuits, and, since they are fried, they are sometimes compared to doughnuts.
11. Ul Boov: Mongolian Ghee Cake
When Mongolians celebrate the Lunar New Year with a three-day holiday known as Tsagaan Sar, the centerpiece is normally a magnificent ul boov.
Ul boov translates to “shoe sole cake,” a humble name for a towering dessert steeped in tradition and serving a role similar to a Christmas tree or family shrine. Ul boov is both a dessert and a show. It can be used as a tasty treat at weddings and other celebrations, or as a meaningful home decoration. In any case, it’s a fun way to start the new year.
12. Gambir: Variation of Pancake
This delectable dessert combines a variety of different flavors, as is very common in Mongolian cuisine. It’s made like a pancake but is a dough-like texture that contains butter and sugar. Gambir is most commonly consumed as a sweet pancake. The best part of this sinful dessert is that you can control the amount of sugar or jam you want. Chocolate or fruit can also be used as a topping.
13. Milk Tea
Mongolian milk tea, also known as Suutei tsai, is one of the more commonly drunk beverages among Mongolian people. In fact, it is tradition for Mongolians to make and drink a daily dose of this salty milk tea, not only as a dietary habit, but also because it reminds them of home.
The culture of milk tea is strongly rooted in the life of Mongolians, hence the reason why so much value is placed on the process and materials for making it. Traditionally, Mongolian milk tea is made by the following procedure: steeping, boiling, scooping, skimming, frying, mixing, and stewing.
14. Airag: Mongolian Fermented Milk Beverage
Every local dish must be washed down with airag, Mongolia’s national drink. Airag, also known as ‘kumis’ by Russians and Turks, is a very popular beverage. Mongolia is well-known for its horse culture, and its most famous drink is named after its most revered animal. Airag is made from fermented mare’s milk.
On the tongue, airag gently refreshes and sparkles. It contains a trace of carbon dioxide, as well as up to 2% alcohol. The flavor is slightly sour at first, but becomes quite pleasant after getting used to it. The precise flavor is determined by both the characteristics of the pastures and the method of production. For the nomads, the beverage is a good source of vitamins and minerals.
It’s difficult to discuss Mongolia’s most popular drinks without mentioning vodka. Vodka is not a traditional drink because it was imported by Russians during the communist era, but it is now the most popular beverage in the country.
Many Mongolians consume up to two bottles per month, and the country is home to hundreds of distilleries. Mongolian vodka is made from wheat and comes in a variety of flavors. Black Chinggis, Gold Chinggis, Bolor, Soyombo, and Khar Suvd are the most well-known. The alcohol content is approximately 36%.
16. Milk Vodka: Shimiin Arkhi
The Mongolian method of distilling alcoholic beverages has not changed over the centuries because it was perfected by the nomads. Distilled dairy vodka, also known as milk vodka, is far healthier than regular vodka distilled from wheat. This drink is made by distilling dairy products. Mongolian vodka is served warm with a variety of dairy products.
It aids digestion when combined with melted butter or molasses. It can treat scurvy and alleviate back pain. Milk vodka is primarily used as a remedy and is served before going to bed.
17. Aaruul: Dried Curds
Aaruul, also known as Mongolian curd cheese, is a staple of Mongolian nomadic peoples. They prepare a sufficient amount of milk products during the summer, when output is plentiful, and consume the products during the other seasons.
They produce a variety of dairy products depending on the type of animal they keep: sheep, goats, camels, horses, cows, and yaks.
18. Tarag: Mongolian Yoghurt
Yogurt inhibits dangerous bacteria by generating acid equality in the mouth. It is made from sheep, goat, and cow milk, combining 150-200 grams of yogurt with 10 liters of milk.
Before adding yogurt to milk, a small gram of milk can be added to the yogurt, and then it can be added to the pot of full milk. You must empty the pot into a wooden bucket and keep it warm after ladling up and pouring back until it is warm.
If you can’t keep it warm, can’t find a source of yogurt, or can’t even make it hot, it’s not good yogurt. It will be ready after about 2-3 hours, and it is preferable to chill it before serving. Because camel and horse milk do not mix well in yogurt, these yogurts are made separetely: hoormog is made of camel milk and airag is made of horse milk.
19. Eezgii: Fried Curd
Eezgii is a traditional Mongolian dish. It is made by heating milk and a small amount of kefir or yogurt. After curdling, the ingredients are cooked until all the liquid has evaporated.
The dried curd mass is then roasted until it transforms into small golden-colored cheese pieces. Eezgii is typically stored in a cloth sack and eaten as a snack between meals. The flavor is slightly sweet and the texture on the tongue is grainy or sandy.
20. Zookhii: Cream
Zookhii, or cream, is one of the simplest dairy products to make. Simply allowing the milk to curdle in a warm place for six to eight hours and then skim the cream off the top. The cream is strained and churned to produce “white oil” (tsagaan tos), which is then gently melted to separate the “yellow oil,” or clarified butter. Tsötsgii, a delicious cream eaten mixed with cane sugar and fried millet, is the residue from the separation of “white oil.”