Mongolia

The country the world knows as Mongolia is actually the historic Outer Mongolia. Inner Mongolia is still an autonomous region of China. Mongolia is the 19th largest and the most sparsely populated fully sovereign country in the world, with a population of around 3 million people. It is also the world’s second-largest landlocked country behind Kazakhstan. With an average annual temperature of 1.3 °C/29.7 °F, Ulaanbaatar is the world’s coldest capital city.

A few ‘Horsey’ facts
In Mongolia there are 13 times more horses than humans, and sheep outnumber humans 35 to 1
The world’s tallest statue of a horse is the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue at Tsonjin Boldog measuring 40 metres tall
Mongolian native horses are called takhi, the Mongol word for “spirit,”. They have 66 chromosomes, two more than the average horse and they are the last truly wild horses left on the planet
In a span of just 25 years, Genghis Khan and his horsemen conquered an area larger and greater in population than the Romans did in four centuries
There is a theory that Mongolian horseman may have invented ice cream, when they took cream in containers made from animal intestines as provisions on long journeys across the Gobi desert in winter. As they galloped, the cream was vigorously shaken, while the sub-zero temperature caused it to freeze
The world record for the largest horse parade took place in Ulaanbaatar, on 9 August 2013 and involved 11,125 horses and their riders ageing between 2 and 90

Mongolian cuisine refers to the local culinary traditions of Mongolia and Mongolian styled dishes. The extreme continental climate has affected the traditional diet, so the Mongolian cuisine primarily consists of dairy products, meat, and animal fats. Popular dishes include Guriltai shol (noodle soup), Khorkhog (mutton cooked over hot stones), Khuushuur (deep fried dumplings), Chanasan Makh (boiled meat with innards), Budaatai huurga (stew with rice, meat and vegetables), Gambir (pancakes) and Boortsog (deep fried butter cookies). I opted for what is considered the national dish – Buuz (steamed dumplings). I have to say that there were a little bland on their own, but with the addition of some ketchup or soy sauce they weren’t too bad.

Rating: 6/10

Makes 30
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

250 g plain flour
150 ml water
300 g minced mutton, lamb or beef (with at least 20% fat)
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt
Pepper
1 tsp caraway seeds

Mix the flour and water together in a bowl and knead for 5 minutes until you have a pliable dough
Let it rest for 15 minutes
Mix together the meat, onion and garlic
Lightly bash the caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar
Add the caraway seeds, salt & pepper to the minced meat
Roll out the dough so it’s is no more than 3mm thick
With a pastry cutter, cut the the pastry into rounds and place the round in your hand, fill with a teaspoon of the mixture and then carefully bring the edges to the middle and twist it around. This recipe has some guidance on how to shape the buuz
Place them on some greaseproof paper whilst you continue to make the rest
Get a steamer ready and place the buuz in to the steamer ensuring they don’t touch each other (you will need to cook them in batches)
Cook each batch for 15 minutes
When you open the lid, using a chopping board to fan air over the top of the buuz to create a glossy top
Have them on their own or with ketchup or soy sauce

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Ingredients for Buuz (steamed dumplings)
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Dough for Buuz (steamed dumplings)
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Making Buuz (steamed dumplings)
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Making Buuz (steamed dumplings)
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Buuz (steamed dumplings)
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Buuz (steamed dumplings)
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Mongolian horsemen
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Gobi desert, Mongolia
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