Kalmyk tea dzhomba is cooked by adding milk, butter, salt, and muskat nut powder to water. In fact, there is more than one way of cooking the tea. It is also possible to mix it with fried flour (khuursn tsya), mutton (makhta tsya), and fried intestine fat of the sheep (shuurmgta tsya). Such rich tea not only quenches thirst but also gives extra energy and warmth in the cold. Another popular drink is chigyan, which can be made from the milk of a mare (gyunya chigyan), a camel (temyanya chegyan) or a cow (ukrya chigyan). As it is produced from a liquid starter culture and contains more sugar, the mare’s milk chigyan, also know in Central Asia as kumis, has a higher alcohol content compared with those made of cow’s or camel’s milk. Targ, another fermented milk drink, is prepared on a slow fire for several hours. It has thick texture and is sour-ish by taste. The traditional alcoholic drink yark is made from sheep’s milk. Yark can be distilled three times which increases its alcohol content. In the first distillation it is called arz, in the second – khorz and finally in the third – borz.

Anatoliy Safinov, Vodka

When Anatoliy was young his mother used to make milk vodka. First, milk was left to turn sour in order to make chigyan. Then the chigyan was poured into a pot. The pot was covered with a lid that had a hole through which a pipe was inserted into the pot. Then the lid was smeared with mud and the pipe was directed into another pot. A stick was prepared, one end of which was wrapped with cotton. This stick was used to taste the vodka. When the chigyan boiled, the vodka dripped through the pipe into the other pot. What remained in the pot was called borz.


Antonina Boskhandjieva, About Jomba