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Traditional food of Mongolian nomads

Red and white months

The diet in Mongolia is essentially based on animal products: meat, considered as "red food", and dairy products, "white food". These are not eaten at the same period of the year.

White months

Summer months are the "White" ones, dedicated to dairy products. Indeed, it is the high season for births, and all the females are in period of lactation.

Cheese, butter, fermented mare milk, yoghurts are then the basis of the traditional nomadic diet.

This also corresponds to lower calorie needs in relation to the more clement temperatures.

Red months

On the contrary, winter months are "Red Months", dedicated to the consumption of meat.

This kind of food supplies to all the necessary calories to bear the extremely cold weather during winter in the steppes of Mongolia.

The meat is generally boiled, sometimes frozen (the outside of the yurt is a huge freezer during 6 months!).


Specialties from Mongolia


These steam ravioli stuffed by meat, which look like Tibetan "momos", are consumed all year long, but they play an essential role during the period of Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian lunar New Year.


Made with the same dough as the buuz, and also stuffed by meat, they are bigger and of flat shape.

The essential difference lies in the cooking, because they are fried instead of being steamed.


The tsuivan consists of pasta prepared with some vegetables, spices and strips of meat.



The Khorkhog is a traditional nomadic specialty of the Mongolian steppe. You will almost never find it in a restaurant.

To prepare the Khorkhog, nomads cut mutton or goat into pieces, keeping the bones. Twenty stones the size of a fist are heated in the fire.

When hot enough, they are placed in layers with the meat in a metal container, which is often a milk can.

Other ingredients are added over the stones and meat, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, seasoning ...

Water is added in sufficient quantity for all of the ingredients to be cooked both by the steam and the heat of stones. The container is closed and placed on the fire for an hour to an hour and a half.

At the opening of the container, the Khorkhog is ready to eat.

The family takes out the meat and vegetables, and the stones which turned black, both because of the fire and the fat that they have absorbed.

These stones are still warm and the guests keep them in their hands because Mongols consider them as beneficial to health.

We usually eat the Khorkhog with fingers, with the help of a knife to cut the meat.



Drinks in Mongolia

You will be offered some tea mixed with milk and salt. You will soon get used to it, but you will also find "Lipton" tea in the yurt (ger) camps...

With the nomads, in summer, you will surely discover the national drink, the famous fermented mare milk (airag, called koumis in Central Asia).

It is considered as very good for the health: one more reason for you to experiment it!

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