While Tsagaan Sar or Mongolian Lunar new year is a nationally celebrated holiday in Mongolia, you wouldn’t want to miss its delicacy. Since the name of the festival itself indicates the white, symbolizing purification and whitening what’s been dark, the food and beverage of the festival are intended to be white in colour. The traditional dairy products have a huge part in the Tsagaan Sar feast.
Salted milk tea is the most common beverage throughout the country and consumed during the day and night, summer and winter. Milk tea will be the first thing offered wherever you visit a Mongolian family. Tsagaan Sar feast starts with salted milk tea often in a silver bowl.
Berees is possibly the second dish that can be offered by the host during the celebration. Steamed rice with raisin and sugar combined in yak ghee sounds slavering. You will be expected to take 2 to 3 spoon of berees. We encourage you to put in your milk tea. A good combination you will find there.
The middle of the feast table is a place for Tavgyn Idee, a set of long thick pastries piled in odd numbers and decorated with dairies and sweets. The main pastry is called Ul Boov (Sole Cake) according to its sole-like shape. An important thing is Sole Cakes must be layered in odd numbers, meaning the life circle goes through happiness and suffering. The first layer symbolizes happiness and while it turns suffering and happiness one after another, it always ends at happiness. Also, depending on the age of the family’s oldest person and how many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren they have, the layering number is determined. For example, a man over 80 years old can stack seven layers upwards.
Before leaving, Guests touch the Tavgyn Idee and have 1 or 2 sweetness from the top meaning the visit was an enjoyable one.
Tsagaalga or Tatash
The most common beverage of the celebration after the milk tea is Tsagaalga. This beverage is made of curd, flour, milk, milk ghee, steamed rice, and sugar optionally. The Tsagaalga is served in a bowl and received by both hands. Consuming at least three bowls of Tsagaalga is believed to be an indication of wealth in the upcoming year.
Uuts is a steamed sheep back with its fatty tail. It symbolizes wealth and prosperity. Often a man from guests slices from the side of uuts by a sharp knife and hand the sliced pieces to the other guests in the ger. Uuts is served during important life events such as a wedding or child’s first haircut ceremony.
Bansh or Steamed Dumpling
Steamed dumplings are the closing meal of the feast, followed by vodka. Dumplings are prepared and frozen in advance of the celebration and served at the end of your visit.