What is Airag / Kumis?

Airag or Kumis is one of the traditional drinks that’s popular in Mongolia and Central Asia. Basically it’s fermented mare’s milk that nomads learned how to make long ago.

Besides for warfare and transportation in Mongolian history, horses have been a vital source of food not just for Mongolians, but other Central Asian countries as well.

What Does it Taste Lake?

People describe the taste of Airag as sour. How sour depends on how long it was fermented and the process it went through. Some airag taste more sour whereas other types are lighter.

It may be a unique taste for first-time drinkers, but it grows on you the more you drink it.

The fermentation process for Airag allows lactose intolerant people to actually drink it, so it’s a traditional drink that everyone can enjoy.

Be careful about how much you drink though because fermentation of the mare’s milk makes it alcoholic, which is around 1-2%. For smaller sized folks or light-weight drinkers, 1 liter of airag is enough to get you drunk

How Is Airag Made?

Traditional Airag is made in the countryside inside a ger.

After milking a mare, the milk is poured into a leather sack, called Khukhuur, with a cloth filter with. It’s left to ferment in the Khukhuur and it’s stirred with something that is called Buluur.

After a few days, it’s ready to drink!

kid drinking airag

The best experience for drinking Airag is with a traditional wooden spoon, which is used to pour the milk into a big porcelain cup. For traditional festivals, sometimes the big cup is passed around the table so that everyone can share and enjoy the drink.

Health Benefits

Mare’s milk is packed with nutrients and minerals. Sometimes people even drink the raw milk, which is called Saam.

It cleans your digestive tracks and provides good bacteria.

If you drink to much though, you might have to use the toilet, so drink within reasonable amount if you want to avoid going to the bathroom frequently.

Can You Buy it in Stores?

You’ll be able to find Airag in some supermarkets like eMart, but it’s rather expensive compared with other drinks. I would recommend people to buy Airag from a local supplier or in bulk from nomads out in the countryside.

Where is Airag Made?

nomad milking mare

While there are factories for processing the mare’s milk, the best airag is straight from the source, which is from the nomads out in the countryside.

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