Milk is sacred in Mongolia. It is
sprinkled on horses and the wheels of vehicles, trains and even aero planes to
bless the journey and the traveler. Along with wheat, meat and, more recently,
vegetables, milk and milk products are staple foods.
Over the years Mongolian nomads have
developed a number of unique dairy products, which are made by traditional ways
include different types of yoghurt, cottage cheese, dried curds and fermented
Generally, dairy products are prepared
to eat during spring and summer months to last over long winter. In
rural areas nomadic families prepared, and still prepare, traditionally
conserved dairy products for the customary winter diet of meat and milk. During
the short summer, people, both rural and urban, they consume up to ten liters
of milk daily in the form of airag – a mildly alcoholic drink
fermented from mare’s milk; and hoormog – made from camel milk.
As well as being pleasant drinks, airag and hoormog are
natural functional foods that restore the body after the long winter diet of
meat and milk-based foods. There are over 500 different dairy products and
regional variations. Mongolians hate to waste any animal products
and they use a sheep’s stomach for storing some kind of dairy products
especially cream, tsagaan tos, shar tos for long winter.
milk is stirred 3000-5000 times to ready airag. Local people milk mare in every
2 hours from 8 am. There is an old legend about the gods who decided to make a
drink that would replace all other nourishment needed by man. They worked on it
for a long time and finally the drink was ready. They called it airag or
kumis. For the Mongols, kumis is a symbol of hospitality and friendly feelings.
This old song will probably teach you how to make kumis.
a mare in the prairie
then milk her in the dairy
your bucket’s full of milk,
snow-white mare’s milk
your work is very easy,
long enough to keep you busy
select a good big skin
pour the mare’s milk in
the skin, now swollen fat,
the ground lying flat,
the milk with an elm beater
a good culture to ferment it
love kumis as it gives us health,
poor and it’s our only wealth,
drink has no equal, we are told,
it’s dearer than silver and gold.
Tarag (Thin yoghurt): Boiled
milk is heated until warm, then mixed with a starter and stirred well, after
which it is poured into a container and left to ferment in a warm condition. If
the surrounding air is cool, the container of fermenting yoghurt is left
covered. The starter generally consists of filtered yoghurt, but in some
locations, and particularly when making the first yoghurt of the season,
various other substances can be used - including powdered aaruul, milk
curds, or fermented plants such as rhubarb. Yoghurt is made from the milk of
cows, sheep or goats. It formed an important part of the summer diet, being consumed
primarily in the evening.
To make dried curds,
around 10 liter of yoghurt is boiled for 10-20 minutes and poured out into another
pot. It is cooled for 3-4 hours. Then poured out into a proper bag to decant
and sour curd is put by heavy thing for 10-12 hours. After that, it is sliced
by thread thinly and put on the plank on the Ger. Also, sugar and fruit can be
Byaslag: This type of mild, unripened cheese is
produced on the basis of raw milk. The milk is heated over a gentle fire, and
then a curdling agent such as whey or yoghurt is added gradually to the milk,
causing it to separate. During this process it is important to regulate the
temperature of the milk and the quantity of curdling agent, as too much of the
latter can produce a bitter-tasting cheese, while too little can result in the
incomplete separation of the curd. Once the curd has properly formed it is
drained and wrapped tightly in a cloth or put into a cotton sack, then placed
between two flat boards with a heavy weight over the top, and left until the
remaining whey has been squeezed out. The resulting cheese is typically eaten
with cream, but is not generally consumed as part of the daily diet so much as
when travelling, or as a food to be offered to visitors or set on the table
during weddings and festivities.
Urum (clotted cream): Clotted
cream is widely produced throughout Mongolia. It is produced by bringing cow,
sheep or goat milk to a boil, while continuously ladling up the liquid and
pouring it back into the pot, causing the cream to separate from the milk and
develop into froth. The pot is then set aside in a cool place until this foam
solidifies, whereupon the pot is again heated slightly over a low fire; the
clotted cream is then scraped away from the edges of the pot, folded and
removed. It can either be eaten fresh or placed on a board and dried or frozen;
the cream may also be gathered and stored in a special container.
Aarts (curds): Curds
obtained by pouring boiled yoghurt or tsagaa into a cloth sack and leaving
this until the whey has dripped away. Aarts are the basic ingredient
of aaruul and khuruud, but can also be boiled in water to
produce a hot beverage, or used as flavorings in various foods.
(dry curds): Aaruul is produced by
cutting drained Aarts with a string, then setting them to dry in the
sun. In order to increase the flavor, texture and fat content of the Aaruul,
extra milk can be added to the tsagaa before it is boiled and
filtered. The aaruul can also be sweetened with sugar and fruit.
So-called Khorkhoi (worm) Aaruul is produced by pressing
the milk curds through the holes of a wide-eyed
sieve; Bazmal (grabbed) Aaruul is molded in the palm of the
To make khailmag, white butter is melted on the fireplace in a pot,
added a little flour and stirred well.10 minutes later, it should be simmered.
Then, separated yellow butter or shar tos is put in a special pot. Put sugar into
it to add taste. After cooled, it will become ready to serve.
Distilled milk vodka: To make distilled milk vodka,
fermented yoghurt is put into a pot that is 16-18 liters on the fireplace.
Before making a fire, you will prepare the utensils for distilling. Then fill
the pot with water and continue making fire. As soon as water in the pot is
heated, change the water with a cold one twice. After this process, get the
distilled spirit. On distilling, 1-5 liters of vodka is produced.