Traditional Kalmyk cuisine consists mainly of meat and dairy products, which reflects the nomadic heritage and lifestyle of the Kalmyks. Such a high-calorie and high-protein diet was suited for labour-intensive existence in the harsh environment of the Kalmyk steppe. Everyday meals in the traditional setting were rather unvarying and repetitive. The day started with tea drinking supplemented with traditional cookies (bortsg, guir) served with clotted cream, butter and other dairy products. Tea drinking could be repeated throughout the day, but the evening meal usually included meat dishes.
The diet of today’s Kalmyks, however, is more varied, including fish and other dishes borrowed not only from their immediate neighbours – the Russians, Turkic peoples, and various nationalities of the Caucasus – but also from faraway places such as Europe.
In Kalmykia food has also been used as medicine. Mutton soup with onion, for example, is believed not only to have energy boosting qualities but is also used as a remedy for a cold and other respiratory diseases.
On this page, you can watch videos of dishes, recipes, table etiquettes, stories and legends about various foodstuffs.