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Food and Eating Habits

Mongolian people like milk products in summer and autumn, while in winter and spring meat is preferred. Besides that, flour or rice is eaten quite a lot with milk and meat in all seasons of the year.
The food is mostly cooked over a fire, but sometimes steamed or fried. There are interesting methods of preparing meat by baking it over hot stones called "Horhog" and "Boodog".
In olden times, these dishes were usually prepared from the meat of wild animals, but now sheep and goat's meat are widely used. Mongols prefer beef and mutton, and horse meat is not so popular. Within the last few years camel meat has been added to the menu. Fish and chicken are rarely eaten except by city people during the last few years. The meat is prepared by cutting up all the meat into joints, then into smaller pieces, and stewing them for a short time. There is an interesting kind of meat dish which is prepared from the internal organs of slaughtered cattle and wild animals. In addition, the hair and skin of the severed head and legs of cattle are burned, and tasty dishes are prepared from them. Beef, mutton and camel meat are dried in sun and wind and preserved for a long period, and they are called "Borts".
Tsagan-ide (white food) is very popular in Mongolia. From milk many kinds of dishes are prepared. First of all, the milk is boiled and is stirred many times, and after cooling, the "urum" (the thick skin on boiled milk) is taken off. Further, the boiled milk is fermented and used to make yogurt, aarts (sour cottage cheese), and aaruul (a dry curd sweet). A small quantity of yogurt is poured into hot milk and fermented, and from this byaslag (cheese), eezgii (dry curds) and eedem (similar to cheese) are made. Mongols very much prefer urum and aaruul among milk products. The people enjoy eating the above-mentioned products for lunch in summer and autumn. During the lactation period of animals which lasts approximately 6 months, the Mongolians prepare and store dairy products for the winter. These are called "hatuu ide" (hard milk dishes) and can be served in a nomad's home all year round.
Tea with milk is appreciated and loved by everybody, in any season of the year. If anyone visits a family, he is offered tea first. Tea is drunk at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it is an essential part of the daily diet.
Over centuries of tea drinking in Mongolia, lots of brewing recipes have appeared, reflecting national distinctions, and influenced by the cattle-breeder's nomadic life and long standing traditions in cookery. Many Mongolians like flour tea to which are added butter, milk and salt. This thick beverage is as nourishing as soup or porridge. In summer and autumn seasons people love to drink airag or fermented mare's milk. It is kept in bag made of cow's skin or in a wooden vessel. Besides drinking airag at home, many people are fond of drinking in the companionship of a group, chatting, playing and singing folk songs.

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