Sometimes the simplest food turns out to be the best. These Mongolian "Buuz" dumplings which are commonly eaten steamed, were not only fun and easy to make but surprisingly tasty, despite only using garlic, onions and caraway seeds to season the ground lamb filling. Topped with a little bit of butter and fresh ground pepper, my crew gobbled these up in seconds. Whether you're looking for a fun project to do with kids, or a treat for no special reason, these dumplings are ideal. Any ground meat could be substituted for lamb, but I think lamb is the thing.
Founded by Genghis Khan in 1206, Mongolia gained independence from China until 1921 and finally achieved international recognition as recently as 1945. Following this period, Mongolia was heavily influenced by Russia and the Soviet Union, but in 1990, the country formed a multi-party system and constitution, and in 1992, a market economy emerged. The Tibetan Buddhist culture predominates in Mongolia.
Cusine in Mongolia reflects both the extreme continental climate, which reaches temperatures of -40C, and the nomadic life style that 30% of the population practices. For that reason, dairy, meat and animal fats with very few spices or vegetables, are the basis for most Mongolian diets. Just as the Arctic Inuits subsist on a diet rich in animal fat, so too, the Mongolian's - particularly those who work outside, insulate their bodies against the cold in this way. Food is influenced by Chinese and Russian traditions, and meats such as mutton, cattle, horse and yak are typical. Yogurt, curds and kefir are commonly eaun dairy products.
Buuz - Steamed Mongolian Dumplings (Adapted from Mongol Food)
2 cups flour
3/4-1 cup water
Mix flour and water together with a wooden spoon until blended and dough is smooth and elastic, but not dry. If you need to add a little water, do so a teaspoon at a time to avoid making the dough too sticky.
On a floured surface, pull off golf ball sized pieces. Using the palm of your hand, gently flatten out.
Next, roll out a 6-7-inch circles.
1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. caraway seeds
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients until thoroughly blended (your hands will work best).
Holding the circle of dough in your hand, fill each circle with a tablespoon of the filling. Starting on one side, lift the dough up and around the filling and pinch it between your thumb and forefinger, working your way around the dumpling, leaving a small opening at the top.
Using a metal or bamboo steamer, place dumplings (try not to crowd them) side by side and steam for approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove, top with a little butter and season with freshly ground black pepper.
Final Assessment: These are wonderful, delicious and easy to make. They're perfect as snack, accompanied by soup or as an appetizer before a meal. Which ever you choose, these little dumplings are all kinds of divine.