The Republic of Buryatia is perhaps most famous for bordering Siberia’s world-famous Lake Baikal (the deepest in the world), but it should also be pretty famous for the eponymous Buryats, the Mongol people who call the region home.
The Buryats have a lot in common with their Mongolian brethren to the south: they’re a nomadic people accustomed to living in gers and their customs, culture and cuisine all bear more than a passing resemblance to those of Mongolia.
Having recently visited the Republic, YPT is in a position to rank the very best food and drink available on the shores of Lake Baikal.
Could have sworn we’ve seen these before. Pozy or buuzy are not dissimilar to Mongolian Buuz, which in turn share a lot in common with the Chinese baozi.
Pozy are basically dumplings filled with spiced minced meat (usually horse or mutton), and are every bit as hearty and simple as what’s being served in Ulaanbaatar a couple of hundred miles to the south.
Shanky is not a prison finishing move but a kind of scone made with dough and mutton (who’d have thunk?) fat, hollowed out and filled with a variety of fillings including meat, vegetables and mashed potatoes. It’s occasionally called the ‘Nomad’s pizza’ for its (admittedly vague) resemblance to the Italian dish of the gods.
Buryatia is located smack bang in the middle of the historical Chinese tea caravan route to parts west, and so tea is a very popular drink here. More popular variants include butter tea (not unlike the Tibetans, whose Buddhism inspired that of the region), green tea with milk (an abomination which ought never to have seen the light of day – you do not put milk in green tea, dammit) and Mongolian-style tea with milk and salt. Yeah, salt in tea.
Anyway they get kinda weird about tea, is we suppose is what we’re saying.
A thick sort of pudding made from sour cream, salt and rye flour, salamata is not exactly what we think of in the West when we think of ‘dessert’. Nevertheless a must-try when in the region!
Tarasun is a kind of local milk vodka which is apparently made by mucking out a stable and then fermenting the results of said mucking-out until gullible tourists can be duped into trying it. Literally the worst thing we’ve ever tried ever, and we’ve eaten pig penis.
Get tricked into eating/drinking weird shit for yourself on our next Buryatia/Lake Baikal tour!.