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With 30 million herd animals in the country, Mongolians eat a lot of meat and milk products. Fruit and vegetables are harder to come by. Nothing grows in the long winter, so most of the year, only vegetables like potatoes, onions and turnips, which store well, are available. Here are some recipes for typical Mongolian foods. (Note: many of the “Mongolian” recipes in cook books are from inner Mongolia, or are Chinese versions of Mongolian food. In Mongolia, people usually eat very simply, using few spices or fancy sauces.)

Huushuur (fried meat pasties)
Recipe makes about 32 pasties
For the filling:
1 kg minced mutton or beef, with fat included
3 ½ teaspoons salt
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
water to mix
Mix the filling ingredients together into a firm paste.
For the dough:
4 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
water to mix
Mix the dough ingredients together and knead into a dough. Divide into smaller pieces and roll these into cylinders about 3 cm in diameter. Cut the cylinders into 4cm lengths.
To assemble: Take one length of dough and squash it into a circle. Roll it out until it is 8 to 10cm wide. Roll more at the edges than in the middle, so the dough is slightly thinner around the edges. Put 2 ½ dessertspoons of meat mixture onto one side of your circle, leaving a space around the edge. Fold the other side over, pinching the edge flat. Leave one corner open and squeeze out the air, then seal the corner. Fold the corner over and pinch again, then work around the edge folding and pinching into a twist pattern. Repeat the process with the rest of the filling and dough pieces.
To cook:
2 litres cooking oil
Heat the oil in a wok (make sure the oil comes no higher than 5cm below the top). Fry three or four pasties at a time for two minutes each side, until they are brown and the meat is cooked. Eat with tomato ketchup or soy sauce.


Suutei tsai (salty tea – suu means milk and tsai is tea)
1 litre water
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon green tea
1 litre milk
Boil the water, tea and salt together. Add the milk and boil again. Mongolians sometimes also add a lump of rancid butter just before serving. This is called shar tos, or airag tos. Remember, if you hand someone a cup of tea (or anything else, for that matter) to always use your right hand only. Similarly, when accepting and drinking the tea, use your right hand. Serve in small bowls or cups.


Guriltai shul (mutton soup)
500g fatty mutton, cut into strips (as for a stir-fry). Make sure you include the fat.
mutton fat or oil
2 large potatoes, diced
1 swede, diced
2 onions, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 teaspoons stock powder or salt
2 or 3 litres water
1 packet flat noodles (fresh or dried)
In a large wok, lightly fry the sliced mutton in the fat. Add the vegetables and stir-fry briefly. Add the water and stock or salt. Boil until almost cooked, then add the noodles and continue boiling until these are ready. Serve in small bowls. Tsuivan (fried noodles) Proceed as for mutton soup above, but do not add the water. Instead, stir-fry the meat and vegetables and then add the fresh (or boiled dried) noodles, and continue stir-frying until the noodles are ready and the flavours have melded.

 

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