Meat Dishes

Meat dishes are usually made from the meat of four kinds of livestock that the Kalmyks have traditionally bred, including sheep, cattle, horses and camels. The most widely used meat is mutton and beef, whereas horse and camel meat are used less often. Mutton can be prepared in various ways, boiled, fried, roasted, etc., the most common dish being a mutton soup cooked with pasta. Dotur, soup made of sheep’s intestines, is also very popular. Cooked intestines, seasoned with onion and other spices, can also be served as a side dish. Besides fresh meat, Kalmyks also consume dried meat (bortslsn makhn) throughout the year.

Other popular dishes made of mutton are khuursn makhn (mutton fried in oil with pasta, onion, and other spices), beregi (dumplings boiled in water), bulsn elkn (liver roasted on coal), semjer orasn elkn (liver wrapped in intestine fat and fried in oil) and budan (soup traditionally made of either dried or smoked meat boiled with flour). Kyur stands out among other dishes both in terms of preparation and its uniquely soft taste. It is prepared as follows. The sheep is cut into small pieces in such a way that the entire meat with the carcass fits into the sheep’s tripe. Then the stuffed tripe is put into a hole in the ground filled with red-hot ashes of wood or dung. Afterwards, the hole is covered with earth and a fire is put on top of it. The mutton is cooked in its own juice.

Alena Lidzhieva, Kalmyk Cuisine

Alena talks about traditional cuisine and what people ate during different seasons in the past. She also gives short recipes for traditional dishes and drinks.

Bulmg: Put butter and milk in a pan and boil on a low heat. Add flour. The flour separates from the butter and turns into small balls. The dish is called bulmg.

Khal’msh: Put butter in a pan and heat it up. Then add flour and mix until it becomes half-liquid.

Khursn tsya: Put butter and flour in a pan and heat until the flour becomes brown. Then add tea.

Makhta tsya: Boil meat and add it to tea.

Chidmg: Prepare chigyan (kumis) and leave it for a while. When the water separates, it is called chidmg.

Kimr: A beverage made of boiled water diluted with milk. When a person is ill or has a temperature, he/she should not be given Kalmyk tea but kimr.

Edmg: When milk goes off, boil it. This beverage is called edmg.

Milk vodka: It is distilled using two pots, big and small. In the big pot put chigyan (kumis). Then connect both pots with a pipe to let the vodka drip from one pot to the other. The big pot has to be sealed with mud so that it becomes airtight. The longer the chigyan boils, the stronger the vodka becomes. The first distillation of chigyan is called vodka. When the vodka is distilled further, it is called arz. In order to taste the vodka, a stick is used which has cotton wrapped around one end. Vodka is made from cow’s milk. Traditionally, men are not allowed to consume alcohol until they reach 40 or 45.

Boortslsn makhn: In the past, sheep were slaughtered in the summer. The meat was cut into long slices, dipped in salty water and then dried on a rope. When the meat dried, it was put into bags made of calf skin. The dried meat was consumed in the winter.

Shuurmg: Put fat into a hot pan and melt it. Then add it to budan which is a soup made of flour.

Sharsn makhn: It is meat fried on open fire.

Kyur: Break the carcass of a sheep into small pieces, then salt it and put the meat into the sheep’s skin and sew it up. Dig a small hole in the ground and start a fire. When the wood turns into coal, put the skin bag with the meat inside it into the hole and cover it with the coal. Then cover the coal with a layer of mud. The kyur has to be left in the hole for about 8 hours. During this time meat separates from bones. The dish can be made from both lamb and fully grown sheep.

Ishksn makhn: Cut cooked meat into small pieces, salt it and then add broth.


Alena Lidzhieva, Kalmyk Cuisine


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