Mongolian Food – Khuushuur

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A Pictorial Recipe

Okay, it’s not really a recipe at all.  I don’t have any measurements.  I’m only guessing at some of the ingredients…but it is food.  And it was darn good food at that!

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Mongolian Food Khuushuur


We had been in Mongolia for about three days, and we had hired a Russian van and driver to take six of us around the country, hitting the highlights.  We were excited, and maybe a bit naive to what this would mean.  We didn’t even take the hint when Jack, our driver, made a supermarket stop on the edge of Ulaan Bator right at the beginning of our nine day journey.  None of us really stocked up on much, a few snacks.  That’s it!

What we didn’t realize was that there was not going to be much food on this trip.  We were supposed to provide it, but that somehow got lost in translation.  About an hour after the shopping stop, we ran out of pavement.  Yep, no more pavement.  At all.  No road signs, no tarmac, just dirt tracks.  And yet we still went happily along not really knowing what we were getting ourselves into.

Mongolian Food Khuushuur


Our accommodations were extra gers that the nomadic families living out on the steppes put up and lend out.  They were comfortable, and even warm.  We expected to be fed by these same families, and in all fairness each and every one of them brought us something.  It just wasn’t much…at all.

By day three we were, with our over-fed western stomachs, upon the brink of starvation.  When we pulled into a windswept town, we all yelled at Jack, “Restaurant, restaurant!”  He dropped us off in front of this yurt.  It did have a sign…”Fast Food!”  Yay!  We were going to eat!

Mongolian Food Khuushuur

There were three people in the ger, an older woman and what appeared to be her two daughters.  They were all busy smilingly making there treats.  There was only one thing on the menu, and if you didn’t want that, you didn’t eat.  No big deal.  We wanted it.

….well….Wait a minute.  “Exactly what is it?” we wanted to know.  Jack smiled.  He loved talking to us about food.

“It’s Khuushuur!” he said, and “It’s made with horse meat. You will love it!”

Mongolian Food Khuushuur

Really?  Now we noticed that bowl of red, yellow, and green bits stuck under the table.  It wasn’t in a refrigerator you notice.

But as I said, we were hungry.  Not hungry, really.  Starving!  All six of us shoved our western sensibilities aside and ordered up a few khuushuur each.  We watched with drooling anticipation as we watched them roll out the dough, cut them in perfect little circles using a small plate as a template, and then drop them into some (questionable) hot oil.

Mongolian Food Khuushuur

We were so depraved, that we all bit right into the hot mess.  Horse meat….really?  It was delicious!  We were disappointed when there really was only enough for each of us to have only two.  We bought out the whole restaurant.

Mongolian Food Khuushuur

Somewhat like a meat pie, hot and horsy, we scarfed them down and were happy for it.

You would think that when we got to the next town, two or three days later, we would have been a little more cautious, but no.  Immediately we would start chanting, “Restaurant, restaurant!” and good ol’ Jack would find us something to curb our voracious western appetites!

Would you eat Khuushuur?

Mongolian Food Khuushuur


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About the Author

Corinne Vail is a world traveler, writer, photographer, speaker, and teacher. Looking for the quirky and unusual as well as the best food around the world, she has traveled all her life. She’s lived in Turkey, England, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the Netherlands and visited over 90 countries with her family. Learn more about Corinne and Reflections Enroute on the About page.

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  1. I think I’d try it too! If I’ve learned one thing in China it’s to eat and ask questions later or just don’t ask. Better just enjoy it! And in Mongolia I’m guessing even more since you can’t really pick much!

  2. Most definitely, I’d eat it. It is funny how we drop our ideals when we get hungry isn’t it! I gather nobody had any ill effects from the mini binges. It would have been awful realising that you should have stocked up at the store.

    1. Jan, It’s not like I couldn’t lose a few pounds, but yes, we figured it out a little too late. We did find places to eat almost every day though in some small and odd villages.

  3. Oh lordy, ok unless it’s one of those really nice train rides across Mongolia then I’m unfortunately crossing this off of my list. Because if got an any sort of tour or adventure without food I would NOT be happy. I’ve paid my dues and have earned that “life right” to eat whenever I like and however much I like LOL! That said…I refuse to eat horse. I’m a horse lover. It would be same as a dog. Corinne, all my snorting at things here….I absolutely LOVED this post, my friend! It was an awesome read 🙂

  4. I just found your blog through Jan at Budget Travel Talk, and I enjoyed this story immensely. 🙂 I get downright cranky when I’m ravenous, so I feel your pain at having so little to eat! I had horse in Slovenia and, like you, thought it was great. 🙂

  5. When you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat just about anything!;-) Although this looks like such a great, truly original experience of the culture, and those are always the best memories to have long after the traveling is complete!

  6. Yes I’d eat it, especially if starving! The French eat horse after all, my husband loves it. I didn’t come across this in Mongolia but I did have to drink a lot of their totally disgusting fermented mare’s milk tea when staying in local gers. Urgh! I still shudder at how foul it was.

  7. Any dish personally made by locals will always be delicious in my opinion 😛 I also had times when I am sooooooooo hungry, anything that would normally taste normal would suddenly taste phenomenal :))

  8. What a great story that really highlights the adventure of travel. I would have eaten it whereas others in my family would have chosen the “I’d rather starve” option. I guess Jack didn’t notice your group exiting the grocery store with only a few items?

    1. Michele, He did, and asked us if we wanted to buy more. He asked us. I guess it was one of those cultural situations. He didn’t tell us, or even tell us why. We read that one totally wrong!

  9. Sign me up! I loved horse meat when I tried it in Sicily and I haven’t had a bad taste of food from any backwater Southeast Asia restaurant yet so I’m 100% in. 🙂 Sounds like you had a great time! Sans the being starving part… 🙂

  10. Noooo. Don’t tell me it’s horsemeat! Yes, I’d probably try it because the way they prepared it looks good 😛

  11. I love the fact that you bought out the restaurant! I would try these. I’ve tried some “iffy” things in my travels, and I’m still here. I’m surprised Jack didn’t give you more of a heads up in the food situation when he stopped at the market. Maybe he thought you had all decided to go on a 6 day fast! 🙂 Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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