Never mind that people say Mongolia is no place for vegetarians, and never mind that you can list out all the Mongolian dishes and each of its variations and still not cross fifty varieties in total, food here is wonderful, despite the repetitions you might find everyday.
That is not say I did not get a little tired of dry noodles with dry meat and potatoes, but on the whole, I loved it all.
The raisin drink is quite a treat – the drink is made from boiling raisins in water for a long time. At the end of the refreshing drink, you get to eat the residue! The fried dumpling is called Khuushuur and usually comes filled with meat.
The famed “salty milk tea.” You will be greeted with this (yup, no sugar) in every home or ger all over Mongolia. This easy to make drink is also easy to make.
Airag: Fermented mare’s milk, airag is not easily stomached but it is also a reflection of the long standing relationship of man and horse. It’s worth a try for sure, tastes like a bad yogurt drink but gives you quite the kick. No wonder it also called the Horse Juice.
Vodka: Mongolia, like any former Soviet Bloc country, loves vodka. Be it horse-milk vodka or the famous Chinggis Vodka so commonly sold everywhere.
Just tea – served alongside the milky tea. Yes, you have choices indeed. In the bowl are home made, albeit rock hard doughnuts and aruul. Aruul comes in many shapes and sizes, is made from dried curd (yogurt) and stays good for years. Aaruul is an acquired taste for foreigners – I have heard people use strong words to describe its rather strong, salty taste, but personally I loved it. It makes for a great snack, is healthy and stays long without turning rancid.
Trying my hand at making khuusuur. The meat inside is usually ground lamb, but exceptions can include beef as well. They make a whole meal and two of these can remain in your tummy for a long time.
A soup-meal. Wholesome and filling.
Noodles – there is only so many times you can eat this meal out in the Gobi Desert, but understand that vegetation is scare in the Gobi and all of Mongolia in general, and the vegetables you can get in your meal are limited to carrots and potatoes. The noodle-meal is definitely whole, tasty -though a little bland, but goes well with the weather. Eaten around the central stove in a ger, it makes for great stories later on.
Mongolian cuisine has a lot of meat and fatty products, keeping in mind the harsh climate and the fat in their food helps withstand the cold.
Steamed meat dumplings – they are named depending on their shape.
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