Buuz is Mongolia’s version of the classic meat-filled steamed dumplings that are so popular in the South and Southeast Asian regions.
The meat used for buuz may be beef or mutton. Before the meat is put into the dumpling, it is first mixed with seasonings such as salt, garlic, onion, sprouted fennel seeds, and other herbs.
These steamed dumplings are typically served during the Mongolian New Year. They are also available at many restaurants and cafes in Ulaanbaatar, along with khuushuur – another kind of Mongolian dumpling similar to buuz, except is it not steamed but fried.
Horse meat may sound like exotic fare to most of us, but in Mongolia, it is something you can easily buy in grocery stores. The meat is a rich source of protein, has low fat content, is very tender (unlike most meats, horse meat becomes more tender as the horse grows older), and tastes slightly sweet. The meat of younger horses has a lighter color than the meat of the older ones.
Mongolians like to eat horse meat in winter as they believe the meat heats up their bodies and helps them to keep warm. In the Bayan-Ölgii area, a popular way to serve horse meat is by salting it and turning it into a sausage called kazy.
Boortsog is a kind of cookie often served as dessert in Mongolia.
The dough is made primarily with milk, flour, water, butter, and yeast. Some variations also add sugar and eggs. The dough is cut into small pieces and then deep fried until the pieces are golden brown.
Boortsog is often served with honey, butter, or sugar. It is also common for Mongolians to dip boortsog into their tea.
Tsuivan noodles are made with dough produced by kneading flour and water together, then flattening the dough and piling it in oiled layers, from which the short and flat noodles are sliced.
In a pot, the vegetables and meat are cooked to form a stew. While the stew is simmering, the noodles are placed into the pot.
The stew is cooked, after which the noodles are placed on top of the vegetables. After 15 minutes, mix everything together and serve.
Airag is a popular beverage in Mongolia. Also known as kumis in other countries, this beverage is made from fermented horse milk.
The fermentation process is necessary to make horse milk suitable for general consumption. When the milk is unfermented, its extraordinarily high lactose content creates a strong laxative effect in the person who drinks it, and for lactose intolerant people, it could result in severe discomfort.
A writer from the first century had written that when it comes to usefulness as a laxative, horse milk is best, followed by donkey’s milk, then cow’s, and lastly, goat’s milk.
Fermentation decomposes this lactose in horse milk into lactic acid, carbon dioxide, and ethanol. With the milk’s laxative effect thus removed (or at least, minimized), the milk becomes easier to drink, even for people with lactose intolerance – a condition that is particularly common in Asia.