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Kalmyk national cuisine

The basis for the of Kalmyks of late XIX-early XX centuries was milk and meat. From them various dishes were prepared. The meat was included into the diet of the more well-off part of the Kalmyk population. The majority of the population consumed diary products and meat was eaten rarely. In the Volga and Caspian districts the fish dishes were basic in the diet.

The so-called Kalmyk tea which is prepared with milk, salt and butter was of great importance for the Kalmyk population. It was consumed with homemade bread. The tea was taken every day. All the guests in the Kalmyk families, without prejudice of their age, social position, wealth, sex and nationality were first served with tea and only then with other dishes.

The daily food of the Kalmyks consisted of milk and products. Sour cream, cream and butter were mare made of cows milk. A lot of milk was used for making chigyan (fermented milk product). It was a basis for diary vodka of various types. The Kalmyk used to start drinking vodka only after a very mature age.

The diet of the Kalmyks is of a strict seasonal character. The meat dishes were rarely consumed during warm seasons as the diary products were frequent. During winters, the dishes made of vegetables and meat used to replace them with additional diary products.

The most favourite type of the meat for the Kalmyk was mutton which, especially of the dry sheep, was considered to cure the diseases. The mutton broth was used a medicine for certain illnesses. The Kalmyks used to eat horse-flesh, beef and also, pork, though the Kalmyks used to breed only few swine. The also consumed the meat of all poultry: ducks, geese and chicken together with the meat of hare, saiga anthelope and boar. The last two categories were of less importance for the Kalmyk diet. Immediately after the sheeps carcass was carved, the Kalmyk used to cook all internal organs, including, liver, kidneys, heart and lungs. This dish (dotur) used to be a meal for a whole village (khoton).

When served to a guest, the best part was considered to be the sheeps head. The jaw used to be separated in advance and such a dish was offered to the eldest in the family or to an honored guest. It was of importance that the head should be tuned to the guest with its face.

The special amenities were offered to the eldermen or very honored male guests when they were served sheeps shoulder-blade. Elder men were offered shin-bone, radiu and pelvic bones; round leg was given to elder women. The girls were given breast, boys-kidneys and ears. The youngest girls were given heart cut vertically.

The Kalmyks knew the way of the preparation of various meat dishes, but the most frequent one was clear meat soup. Only from the middle of the XIX century under the influence of the Russian population, they started to add to the soups little potatoes, onions and cabbage. Further the potatoes, onions, cabbage, tomatoes and other vegetable started to be included into the Kalmyk menu.

One of the dishes acquired from the Russian population was made of small pieces of meat with homemade noodles from plain dough, especially from the wheat flour. The meat was stewed in a casserole buried in hot ashes.

The other very tasty dish was kyur. It was prepared in the following way: sheeps carcass and tail of were cut into pieces. All this with spicess was included into a purely cleaned and washed sheeps tripe and tied. In the bug hole a fire was made. Then, into the ashes, the tripe was put then covered with soil and another fire was made. The meat under this heat was stewed without the access of the air. This dish used to be prepared by shepherds and is considered to be of a very ancient origin. The most popular Kalmyk fat was butter and it was added to the Kalmyk tea, then sheeps fat, horses and camels fat and then, pigs fat. In the fishery districts, fish was used in numerous dishes. The fish soup was a very popular dish, especially out of sturgeons. In summer and fall, the Kalmyks used to dry cooked fish in the sun to prepare in for winter.

The contacts with the Russian and other agricultural nationalities increased the consumption of bread and pastries. Bortsogs prepared from wheat flour, fried in oil, in a big boiler. The Bortsogs are one of favourite dishes of the Kalmyks. They were eaten as festive dish and the treat for the guests. One of the favourite dishes for poorele people especially in winter and late fall was boudan. Milk was boiled in a big boiler, together with water, flour, cut meat and at the end, fat or butter was added. The food of the nomadic Kalmyks was rather various. Our set of postcards offers you only traditional Kalmyk dishes which are the reflection of the activity of the nomadic nation, their life style as this is the main part of the material culture of the Kalmyk nation. The huge social and economic changes considerably influenced the national diet and cuisine. The Kalmyk cuisine became a lot richer and diversified. However, the traditional dishes are still the basis of it.

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Traditional kalmyk receipts
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