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Diet & Eating

     Although Mongolians in urban areas are adapted to a more westernized diet, the general Mongolian diet consists largely of dairy products, meat, millet, barley, and wheat. Rice is common in urban areas.

Meat is the basis of the diet, primarily beef and mutton, and usually eaten at least once a day. The local cooking is quite distinctive. Traditional meals generally consist of boiled mutton with lots of fat and flour with either rice or dairy products. One local specialty is Boodog; this is the whole carcass of a goat roasted from the inside – the entrails and bones are taken out through the throat, the carcass is filled with burning hot stones and the neck tied tightly, and thus the goat is cooked from the inside to the outside.

The variety and availability of vegetables and fruit are limited by the climate, but potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions, and garlic are generally available. Wild berries and, in a few areas, a small number of apples grow in Mongolia. In summer, people eat milk products (dried milk curds, butter, airag - fermented mare’s milk - and yoghurt) instead of large quantities of meat.

Mongolian tea (suutei tsai), meaning salty tea with milk, is very popular. Common meals include guriltai shul (mutton and noodle soup), boiled mutton, and buuz (steamed dumplings stuffed with diced meat, onion, cabbage, garlic, salt, and pepper). A boiled version of the dumpling is called bansh. The fried one is khuushuur.

The main meal of the day throughout the country is in the evening, when the whole family sits together. Western-style utensils are common for all meals, but some people use chopsticks. Most urban dwellers use a knife to cut meat, and spoons to eat rice or vegetables. In urban apartments, people have dining tables and chairs, while in rural areas, people sit on the floor or on small stools to eat from a low table. In the evening, soup is served in individual bowls. If the main dish is boiled meat, it is eaten from a communal bowl.