All Mongolian Recipes
The Food of the Nomads
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Dried meat cut in stripes or ground to powder.
The long and harsh winters in Mongolia make it necessary to store sufficient food to survive, and most of that will be meat. A family will eat approximately one cow and seven or eight sheep.
The source of the meat varies by region. In the Govi camel meat is available, and in the mountainous north reindeer. But particularly for Borts horse meat is also a popular option. It is said to keep people warm more than other types, which is attributed to the special fat of a yellowish color.
The fresh meat is cut into long strips, 2-3 cm thick and 5-7 cm wide. The strips are hung on strings under the roof of the yurt, where the air is free to circulate.
After about a month the meat is dry. It has turned into hard and small sticks which feel like wood and have taken on a brown color. The volume has shrunk so much that the meat of a cow now can easily fit into the stomach of the same cow.
The dried Borts is broken into small pieces or ground to a coarse and fibrous powder. It is stored in a linen bag which allows contact with air. In the dry climate of mongolia, this method of storage preserves the quality of the meat over months or even years.
Nowadays Borts also gets industrially manufactured, and can be bought by the kilogram in paper bags. This is very convenient for city dwellers who don't have a yurt anymore to dry their meat themselfes. However, traditionalists insist that the taste of those products can't compete with the homemade stuff.
The ground Borts is most commonly given into a soup or tea (the main difference between the two is often just the color). But it can be used almost anywhere in place of fresh meat. It is quite practical for making eg. Buuz, Bansh or Khuushuur.
Many mongolians carry some Borts when travelling or when staying abroad for a while as a souvenir from home. Because of its excellent storage capability it can be taken almost anywhere wihout problems. A cup of water with a little Borts heated in the microwave will reliably scare away any homesickness within seconds!