What to eat in Mongolia? Is it dramatically different from other countries or surprisingly similar? How would you react if I told you it is both. In the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, we eat a variety of food for breakfast: egg, bacon, bread, Nutella, cereal, milk, toast, noodle, etc. But in other parts of the country, it is a bit different. We eat fried dough as breakfast and a lot of dairy products… Probably that is why the majority of Mongolians are not lactose intolerant.
Modern breakfast of Mongolia
I was born and raised in Ulaanbaatar, so I think my morning diet is very similar to many others. We usually eat eggs and toast in the morning. Maybe some people add bacon and beans to their breakfast. Getting groceries has become easier over time, therefore your imagination is the only limit of your diet. In the capital of Mongolia, you can have any diet you please: vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, and kangatarian. Maybe seafood is a little limited since Mongolia is a landlocked country, so if you have fresh salmon as your breakfast every morning then traveling to Mongolia might be expensive for you.
Now let’s dive into more interesting food options in Mongolia.
Our traditional cuisine is deeply connected with the extreme climate and history of Mongolia. The traditional food of Mongolia mainly consists of flour, meat, and dairy. We mainly consume products high in calories to survive in our extremely cold weather. Due to our battling history, our ancestors had to preserve their foods for a longer period. Therefore, they made dairy products and air-drying meat as their main diet. Now we understand why Mongolians are crazy about meat and milk. So let’s talk about what kinds of dishes we traditionally eat for our breakfast.
We make these simple yet delicious little miracles by forming and drying drained milk or sour milk. It is our go-to morning, day, and night snack. We eat it no matter where we live or what day it is because we just cannot get enough of this delicious treat.
Deeply fried dough / boortsog
Our nation has a simple taste when it comes to desserts. We deeply fry a dough that only has 6 simple ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, salt, yeast, and milk. We eat it plain or mix it with any dairy product.
We make Clotted Cream by first indirectly heating cow milk using steam or a water bath. Then we leave it in shallow pans to cool slowly. The cream content rises to the surface and forms clots, during the cooling period. It is a simple traditional dessert every Mongolian loves as well. We love pairing it with our deeply fried dough or even more simple, a piece of bread.
Milk tea (Suutei Tsai)
We only use water, milk, salt, and tea leaves to make the one and only Suutei Tsai of Mongolia. Sometimes, the schedule is pretty tight in the countryside of Mongolia, so it is common to consume milk tea as breakfast. We usually use fresh fatty milk for this beverage, so a person can feel full for a very long period.
We eat yogurt in the morning. Yeah… in the morning. But not a European-styled one that is high in sugar concentration or preservatives. We usually consume freshly made ones that have no added sugar and preservatives whatsoever. The process of making Mongolian yogurt is pretty similar to making clotted cream. After taking the clotted cream from the milk we add special bacteria to make the yogurt and after hours of stirring one and only Mongolian yogurt will finally be ready.
As you can see, MONGOLIANS LOOOOOOVE DAIRY PRODUCTS…
People from other countries often assume Mongolians have only one type of diet and maybe the majority of Mongolians primarily eat meat, flour, and dairy. But we have a variety of options when it comes to food and it depends on the location and resources.
So you should visit Mongolia and experience every unique dish of our cuisine. If you have a specific diet then do not be afraid, I am sure you will find yours without any problem.