Street Food in Mongolia

Known as an adventure destination, Mongolia has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world because of the influx of foreign investments. Mongolia is known for its untapped minerals, extreme climate, and Genghis Khan. Mongolian food is mostly animal fat, meat, and dairy products. It is not known for its use of spices and vegetables. Yet the street food in Mongolia is a flourishing business but mostly during holidays and special events because in Mongolia, eating in public can be seen as a form of disrespect. This is why in many places in Mongolia, street food only comes out on special days. The exception to this is the capital city of Ulan Bator or Ulaanbaatar and in Naadam. In addition, many of the streets in other places are not paved which makes for unfavorable eating and cooking conditions. However, when the street food comes out, some of the food you can expect to find and should taste are:

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Khuushuur – This is a fried pastry filled with meat that is very common as street fare. It is the local version of Russia’s chiburekki or the Asian dumpling. However, it looks a lot like the Spanish empanada as well. The meat used is either beef or mutton and the steamed version is known as buuz.

Airag – This is a Mongolian drink made from fermented horse milk and has mild alcoholic content.  The traditional way of making this drink is by putting the milk in horse hide containers to allow it to ferment. The container is turned over several times during the day to agitate and prevent the milk from coagulating.

Khailmag – This is a tasty butter pastry made with filling. It has been described as the local version of crème brulee. It is caramelized pastry made from urum or clotted cream. When it is being cooked, the fat separates and is used to make candles or for frying.

The food most popular to the world is Mongolian barbeque which is a stir fry dish originally from Taiwan.  The Chinese created this dish as their take on what they thought was the traditional way of cooking Mongolian meat – in large chunks all together. Today’s modern version of Mongolian barbeque is a mish-mash or meats, seafood, and vegetables and is nothing like any traditional Mongolian dish.


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