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Mongolian Cuisine : Foods in Mongolia

Updated on March 14, 2011

Mongolian Cuisine : Foods in Mongolia

Now we go to Mongolian cuisine, of course Mongolian barbecue is not a food that originated in Mongolia, that is a misconception. All I can think about Mongolia prior to attending a seminar about East Asia when I was still working as a university researcher is that the Mongolian barbecue and Mongolian beef originated there, well I was wrong. That gave me the idea to further do a research about what they eat. So c'mon join me in discovering the foods that the Mongols eat but first it will be fun to learn some facts facts about Mongolia.

Where is Mongolia located?

Mongolia is a landlocked region in the East Asia bordered by Russia and China in the southern eastern and western. It is very near to Russia and Central Asia that gives us an idea of what nearby country influenced their food culture.

Mongolian stew out of broth of meat and ingredients plus soup

image courtesy of wikipedia
image courtesy of wikipedia

Some facts about Mingolia

As a nation, Mongolia has a long history of struggle with independence being under the rule of nomadic dynasties and under China's rule until 1921.

At the moment, it is opening its market to the world and establishing its place in the world market. It is a large country and population density is high meaning there are few people per square kms. The type of government is parliamentary.

Landscape in Mongolia -- a typical one -- suitable for raising animals which serve as food to Mongolians

wikipedia commons
wikipedia commons

Map of Mongolia

Mongolian choice of food influences

Understanding Mongolias topography is important to know their food :

Topography : Mongolia is a high place with desert and high mountain areas that is why it is cold there and can get up to -40C during winter. It is part of the nomadic region and the culture of herding is popular. They thrive on the climate of desert and mountainous region and resources is nil, in terms of agricultural produce. Vegetables and spices are rare, that is why they don't use as much spices and ingredients nor vegetables in their food.

Mongol's food is not diverse in fact it just use meat and dairy products to some extent.Due to its limited arable land, Mongolia's cuisine is simple, it relies mainly in meat, products from milk of animals. Horse meat is eaten in Mongolia. They rely heavily on milk, that is why they eat cheese as well and the famous wine is milk fermented

Influences : Chinese and Russian influences in food, although I must say that they are more influenced by their Central Asians counterpart (which were part of Russia before they crumble). I would like to also insert some information here about the Silk Route trade which was a trade route in the Central part of Asia wherein there is exchange of goods and barter trade in Asia down to Africa and some part of Europe. Their culture is influenced by the culture of nomads.

sheeps -- in Mongolian steepe

the meat of sheep is widely eaten in Mongolia courtesy of wikipedia commons
the meat of sheep is widely eaten in Mongolia courtesy of wikipedia commons

Foods in Mongolia

buuz, dumplings -- steamed and with ingredients usually salted with garlic image courtesy of wikipedia
buuz, dumplings -- steamed and with ingredients usually salted with garlic image courtesy of wikipedia
Lamb is widely eaten in Mongolia
Lamb is widely eaten in Mongolia

Mongolian cusine is based on meat, dairies, rice or wheat

  • The yurt (image above) uses cast iron grill and the dung of animals to cook food
  • Mongolians relies heavily on meat products of different animals like yaks, goat, sheep, plus camels
  • They also prefer meat of lamb
  • Cream and milk are the basic ingredients in their drinks -- alcoholic and non alcoholic
  • They eat mutton which is the meat of the older lamb
  • They also eat dumplings - ingredients are meat
  • Boiled meat without ingredients is cooked often
  • They rely on fats of animals
  • They also eat rice and barley -- the wheat and the flour is made into porridge
  • They combine rice with meat boiled and stewed

Yurt is a dwelling type eating place where you can eat along side the roads


Facts About Mongolian Cuisine

The weather in itself affects their food choices, it is severely cold during winter that is why they peruse soup from animal broth and milk as ingredients.

They also usually cooked stew and boil meat in itself because they don't have much ingredients. They also air dried their meat.

Like any other place in Asia, rice is mixed with the main dish

They also use the fats from animals and make cheese out of animals milk

Kumis is a fermented milk from a mare

Mongolian cuisine

Beverages ;

  • Kumis is popular drink -- this is a fermented drink form mares milk and is also pupular in other countries -- the Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Tajiks.
  • Tea one kind is milk tea which is salted and added to rice
  • Milk of animal products
  • Millet is a drink from grains
  • Mongolians like sour milk more than the fresh milk
  • Vodka
  • Tsagaan ideed is a drink and is a combination of milk, cream, butter and yogurt

fried dough -- a dessert famous among Mongolians

tsuivan -- stew with noodles and ingredients
tsuivan -- stew with noodles and ingredients

Other Mongolain cuisine

Boortsog is a famous dessert from the dough of barley. It is fried and looks like doughnut


  • Buuz is a type of dumplings same as the dumplings in Taiwanese food wherein the ingredients are meat of beef or sheep, and mixed withe ingredients like garlic and with salt. They are usually steamed.
  • Khuushuur -- a kind of dumpling combination of ingredients like onion, ground meat and is salted

Tsuivan is a kind of stew made out of noodles with main ingredients as rice grain or noodlles

World Cuisine


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    • profile image

      Jessie T. Ponce 

      10 years ago

      I fell in love with Mongolia a long time ago. I've tried and now actually miss all the Mongolian dishes you mentioned, but most especially the khorkhog. Thanks Alexandria.

    • rprcarz50 profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi Again,

      Thank you for the neat information about this eating lifestyle. Sounds very tasty,but not conducive to living a long healthy life. I wonder about that part of this diet.

      Nice Hub !

      Thank you


      as always also a2z50

    • profile image

      Misheel Chuluun 

      10 years ago

      Great article. Thanks for clearing up Mongolian Barbeque.

      A few corrections, as a Mongolian here. Mongolians don't prefer horse meat--they consider horses their best friends more so than dogs. They eat horses only as a last resort or if the horse isn't good for anything else, which is to say last resort in another way. So, I have only had horse meat once in my whole life, and even then, very small amount. Mongolians mainly eat mutton and beef.

      Mutton is better termed sheep than "older lamb" since we don't call chicken or beef "older chick" or "older veal." I understand you may be trying to relate to the palate of Westerners who don't eat mutton but eat lamb, but you may also confuse some people into thinking mutton is "aged" lamb instead of sheep.

      Mongolians do have a hearty diet but their incredibly low levels of cholesterol and heart attacks by comparison to their regular diets and how they prize the fat, caused many dietitians to investigate why....

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      10 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      It seems the Mongolians have a very earthy and hearty diet. A nicely informative Hub Alexandria:)!!

    • michifus profile image


      10 years ago

      I knew nothing about Mongolian cuisine, other than they probably made stuff with Yaks milk. Very informative hub - its great to hear about cuisine from places which are a little more off the beaten track. This hub must have taken ages to research and write - well done. Top quality hub!


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