Get it to go: uniquely portable cuisine of Mongolia’s nomads

Mongolian nomads count on their herds to provide them with nourishment; dairy products make up a large portion of their diet, whether made from yak, goat, sheep, or even mare’s milk. Fresh milk is turned into urum (butter), as well as khailmag (a sweetened caramelized dessert cheese), and aaruul (a hard cheese). Fresh milk is fermented into kefir, a yogurt-like drink. Kefir can then be turned into byaslag (a soft cheese), or eesgii (roasted, dehydrated cheese curds). Mongolians even make a milk vodka, called airag, which they prefer to drink warm.

Ideal for families on the go who don’t want to carry a lot of utensils, dumplings are at the center of most Mongolian meals. Whether steamed (buuz), boiled (bansh), or deep-fried (khuushuur), having something warm to hold and eat makes a lot of sense when it’s -40° outside.

One-pot dishes
When you carry your kitchen on your back, you don’t want too many pots and pans. Meats are cooked over an open fire in a single pot filled with a rich bone broth, a technique often described as the ‘Mongolian Hot Pot’. Tsuivans are noodle stews, made by a technique Italians also favor, of cooking the noodles in the sauce. Guriltai shul, a brothy soup, is thickened with borts, dehydrated, pulverized meat powder.