Festivals in Asia - midsummer feasts in Mongolia

Mongolia is sometimes a little far off the beaten track for those travelling in Hong Kong and China. This time of year, the Mongol Empire relishes in its rich history and culture with a summer festival, which incorporates games, physical competitions and of course, a great feast.

The Naadam Festival, translated as ‘Three Mens Games’ is held every year from July 11th to 13th. The festival, celebrated for hundreds of years, also marks and remembers the Independence of Mongolia in 1922. At the festival, Mongolian men, and nowadays some women, are tested on their agility and prowess in the fields of archery, horse riding and wrestling, and after they indulge in the more sensual activity of eating.

The feast of traditional Mongolian fare includes boiled fatty mutton, Khuushuur (a traditional type of dumpling filled with meat) and a range of dairy beverages. Food is a serious affair at Naadam, and while probably inducing a food haze coma for some, the feast is meant to increase energy for the competitors. 

The majority of the eating is done around breakfast and lunch, as an old Mongolian saying advises “keep breakfast for yourself, share lunch with your friends and give dinner to your enemies”.

The Naadam tradition is strong. Mercury News reports  that the Mongolian population in San Francisco has been celebrating as well. 

Mongolian Khuushuur dumplings

Click here for a recipe (this one is meat free)