Mongolian Cuisine

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Mongolian cuisine has three major influences. Of course, the native Mongolian tribes have left their indelible mark on the cuisine. However, due to deep historic ties and geographic proximity, Mongolian cuisine is also heavily influenced by both Chinese cuisine and Russian cuisine.

Extreme continental climate has affected the traditional diet and, as a result, traditional Mongolian consists mostly of meat, animal fats, and dairy products. Veegetables and spices are included, but rather limited when compared to other cuisines. 

Mongolia Public Domain

Mongolian nomads sustain themselves primarily from domesticated animals. The meat is either used as an ingredient for soups, stews and dumplings, or eaten cooked by itself as a main course. Often meat is dried, cured, and saved for sustenance during the long, harsh winters. Typical domesticated livestock includes yaks, sheep, goats, camels, cows and horses. Mongolians also hunt and eat wild game.

With winter temperatures as low as −96 °F, the Mongolian diet includes a large proportion of animal fat. This is necessary for them to withstand the extremely cold weather and maintain enough energy for the hard work at hand.  Milk and cream are used to prepare several kinds of beverages, as well as cheeses.

(Photo Attributed to Author: Yaan)

The countryside nomads are self-supporting, and also a bit entrepreneurial. If you are traveling there, you will find “guanz” signs in regular intervals on the roadsides. This is to let you know there is a very simple restaurant open for business there. In the guanz, which is a portable dwelling structure, you will find Mongolians cooking, typically in a cast-iron or aluminum pot, over a makeshift “stove” – a pitfire, usually using wood and/or dried animal dung for fuel. Simple, basic fare, mind you, but some of the yummiest foods on the planet, as attested to by many travelers’ account.

A most surprising, interesting and unique cooking method in Mongolian cuisine is traditionally used on special occasions. The special dish is called “Korkhog”. Meat, often together with vegetables, gets steam-cooked with the assistance of fire-preheated stones. Traditionally, the meal is cooked either in a sealed milk can, or – and get this – within the abdominal cavity of a deboned goat.

In the cities, everywhere you will see eateries with Mongolian Cuisine Public Domainsigns saying “buuz”. Buuz are steamed dumplings stuffed with meat. Other types of dumplings, such as manti and bansh, are deep fried in mutton fat or boiled in water. Mongolian cuisine also includes dishes that combine meat with noodles or rice, made into various soups or stews.

Airag is the most prominent national beverage. Airag is fermented mare’s milk. A popular cereal is fried and malted barley, which is drunk mixed in a milky tea, or eaten as a porridge with sugar and milk fat. Horse meat is eaten in Mongolia and can be found in grocery stores almost everywhere in cities.

When it comes to strong spirits? Undoubtedly due to the Russian influence, Mongolians by and large like vodka.


So now let’s get into the real reason you came to this page – the recipes! Below is a list of dishes. Click any one of them, and you will be taken to a print-friendly page with just that recipe on it. Off you go now, into the hearty, tasty, and very meaty world of …

Mongolian Cuisine!


Guriltai Shul (thick fried noodles and meat soup)

Hot Pot Huushuurs (Fried meat and vegetable pies)

Khorkhog (lamb meat steam cooked with hot rocks)

Mongolian Lamb Stir Fry


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