Food in Mongolia
Mongolians eat mutton or sheep as their primary source of protein. Beef may also appear on the menu from time to time. A big plate piled with fried noodles and slivers of mutton would set you back around MNT2,000-4,000. A big bottle of ketchup will be on the side. Khuushuur (huushoor), a fried dumpling filled with pieces of mutton and onion, is a delicious and greasy meal served. A normal dinner serves three to four people. Also available in every cafeteria in town or in the countryside is the ubiquitous buuz (booz). Buuz are large dumplings filled with mutton and onion, similar to khuushuur, except they are steemed rather than fried. A serving of 6 buuz costs MNT1,200-2,000 (USD1.00-1.60).
The boodog, also known as a goat/marmot barbeque, is a must-try. A nomad will go out with his rifle, kill a marmot, and then roast it for you on hot stones in its skin without using a pot for approximately MNT15,000-20,000. In the same vein as boodog, khorkhog (mutton stew) is cooked as follows: build a fire; toss stones into fire until red hot; place water, hot stones, onions, potatoes, carrots, and, finally, mutton chops in a large vacuum-sealed kettle; let the kettle simmer over a fire for 30-60 minutes; open kettle carefully, as the top will inevitably explode, sending hot juices flying everywhere; once the kettle is opened, and all injuries have been treated, eat contents of ketchup This technique of cooking renders mutton soft and juicy, similar to slow-roasted turkey. Inquire with your guide to see if one can be arranged (but only during summer).
The boodog, like the khorhog, is made of other meat, typically goat, and is identical to the khorhog except that the meat, veggies, water, and stones are cooked within the animal’s skin. They gently peel it, then tie up the openings at the legs and back, stuff it with food and hot stones, close the neck, and roast it for approximately 30 minutes.
Drinks in Mongolia
Airag is the national beverage. (As of September 2010, it was sold in traditional Mongolian “ger” tents in Ulan Bator near the main gate of Gandantegchinlen Monastery, GPS decimal coordinates N47.92069 E106.89467 for MNT1,500 and at the West Market, GPS decimal coordinates N47.91118 E106.83569 for MNT1000 per bowl.) This is a summertime seasonal drink prepared from fermented mare’s milk that takes some getting used to. Although the alcohol level is lower than that of beer, it may still have an impact. If you aren’t used to consuming sour milk products, be aware that the first time you do so, it may cause diarrhea while your stomach adjusts. However, this should only happen the first time. Your digestive system should no longer protest after you’ve finished the procedure. The flavor has been described in a variety of ways, ranging from bile-like to lemonade and sour cream-like. The texture, which may be somewhat grainy, can also be off-putting to certain individuals. It’s important to remember that Airag is milk and a nutritional source. Once you’ve developed a taste for it, it may really feel very refreshing after a long day of riding.
When you visit a ger, the first thing you’ll be given is milk tea, which is basically a cup of boiling milk and water with a few of bits of tea leaf tossed in for good measure. You should build up your tolerance by drinking enough of milk in advance of your stay, since they don’t drink anything else except boiling water if you specifically request it during a prolonged visit. In addition, most traditional nomadic meals, such as dry yogurt and the like, require milk acclimation. In the countryside, there are no cold beverages (unless you intend to drink straight out of a river, generally not recommended).
Try their National Home Made Vodka if you’re in Mongolia, particularly if you’re in the countryside. It’s typically prepared using milk or distilled yogurt. It doesn’t have a peculiar flavor. You won’t feel anything after your first shot of vodka, but it will hit you in the head a few minutes later. The majority of Mongolians consume this for medicinal reasons. The vodka is heated first, then a little amount of special oil, which is also produced from milk, is added. Make sure you don’t overheat it or you’ll become blind. Mongolians refer to their native vodka as nermel areehk (“distilled vodka”) or changa yum (“changa yum”) (“tight stuff”). There are many Russian-style Vodkas available for purchase throughout the nation. Chinggis Khaan vodka, Soyombo, and Golden Chinggis are the finest.
Most Western beers, from Miller to Heineken, are available in Ulaanbaataar. They sell Budweiser, but not the American version, but the Czech version. It’s acceptable to drink local beer like Chingiss, Gem Grand, Borgio, or Sengur.