Mongolian Feast & Celebration….Come Dine With Us
November 13, 2014
This is the idea……a while ago a group of friends got together with the intention to create their own version of Come Dine with Me, the popular TV series. So born was…..Come Dine with Us…..5 couples over a period of 12 months opened their houses to entertain each other through food, drink and music. Now here’s the thing, together we experienced many things……a quintessential English evening, a trip to India, Christmas dinner, a Transylvanian Murder Mystery evening, a Burns Supper…OMG the fun, the excitement, the costumes, the food, the drink, the music, the characters and the memories! Our invitation is to try this with your friends and share in your experiences, the food, the connection, the joy, even the frustrations and fears, because all emotions are intrinsically good and we experienced them all! Some people completely in their comfort zone, entertaining and cooking and some people completely outside of their comfort zone……a wonderful experience of heart and mind. Now here comes part II of our Come Dine with Us series…..and so the tales begin!……
Earlier this year, Sue, Simon, I decided to expand on the theme mentioned above, and invited a group of about 15 other friends to arrange and extend our take on the popular TV series, Come Dine with Me…..Come Dine with Us. We decided to theme the evenings, selecting local cuisine from different nations for each couple. We will be visiting…..Mongolia, Australia, the Caribbean, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and good old England (the magpies of the culinary world!)
Firstly, it was the turn of Sue and Simon, and they had the good fortune to draw “A Mongolian Night in a Yurt” which was lucky because they are, somewhat surprisingly, the only couple who happen to have a good size Mongolian wedding Yurt in their garden.
The evening started with the words Tulgatsgaaya! loosely translated …… your health, your happy heart, cheers! at 7pm with copious amounts vodka being served, which is a traditional Mongolian aperitif apparently together with a concocted version made with ‘Yak’s milk’ (Yakult) made by an enthusiastic friend; sadly it was pouring with rain or we could have stood outside by the fire where our lamb was roasting away happily.
We entered the yurt to the sound of Mongolian folk singers…..a cross between Michael Buble and Placido Domingo with a touch of Steeleye Span…..and arrange ourselves around the huge central oval table which had been set with twinkly lights, beautiful place settings, hearts and Mongolian love charms dangling from the central sky-light.
Simon proceeded to announce that it was traditional for the women to honour the men before dinner by washing and anointing their feet, (probably with rancid yak fat) a tradition that no woman was eager to embrace it must be said! We took to toasting them with vodka, which somehow seemed more fitting!
The first course was brought in, Simon’s spin on Buuz, a typical wild boar spicy sausage encased in a doughy pastry and served with cabbage leaves and brown sauce, which was really tasty; even the quorn version was a hit with Malcolm -vegetarian legal eagle.
The main course – whole legs and shoulders of lamb, Khorkhog-xopxor, slow roasted in the outdoor oven with caraway seed and served with towering mounds of grated cabbage, carrot, onion and Mongolian flatbread and the most delicious spicy sauce, was an astounding success – an interesting fact shared around the table ……. being nomadic the Mongolian tribes really honour every ingredient they have, they nurture, love and tend every part of the food’s journey. In fact, Mongolians plant root vegetables in specific areas, moving on and leaving them to return several months later to harvest. They also honour each other by tending crops of others as they travel, they take of each others’ crops with no hierarchy or agenda – Wow! I love that! It was mentioned that Mongolians played games with bones, as this is all that is available to them and as the bones were pretty much sucked clean, it lead to a game “What would you use the scapula of a lamb for, come the Apocalypse?” various garden tools, weapons and jewellery were suggested, but the most innovative, was from foot- fetish Phil who had a somewhat strange idea for a prehistoric sex aid.
Pudding was a rice pudding, a version of Pashka using rice, made from fermented milk, with apple and cinnamon, almonds, sultanas and walnuts, not your normal dinner party fare, but quite delicious nonetheless.
The music was cranked up after the meal, luckily Placido Buble had finished his crooning and we got down to some serious 70’s tunes; the group mixed and mingled and many conversations were shared, amidst huge amounts of feel good humour, laughter and joy! We are blessed to have a wonderful friendship group, a community who have been meeting up since our children were pre-school age – most of them are working or at university now!
It was a clear, cold starry night, and Keepers Cottage is one of the few places locally that has very little light pollution, so we were able to enjoy the night sky as well as the hospitality, great food and warm loving company.
Can’t wait for the next one in June! Bring on Australia!!!
- Prep: 1 hr
- Cook: 8 hrs
- Yields: 1
Buuz...............A sausage shaped wheel of Mongolian spiced wild boar encased in short pastry.
Khorkhog..... Mongolian crispy lamb cooked slowly over hot stone fire, shredded root vegetables, dark sticky sauce and a caraway flatbreads.
Bundaatai......A epic Sharing bowl of spiced rice with apples, sultanas, walnuts and sesame seeds.
All washed down with Yakult infused vodka.
Here we go 9 hrs until the gang arrive, suitably dressed and hungry......... Light a fire, get it roaring and ready for the lamb. If you haven't got a fire then a oven will do 140c. Slash the lamb joints, drizzle in oil, rub in the caraway seeds and the ginger, press the smashed garlic into the slashes, place in large roasting trays and leave all day to roast.
Lay the yurt up ready for the feast...........dissision..... shall we use a table and chairs or sit on the floor? we chose the table and chairs ! Download a variety of Mongolian folk music. Make a few jugs of vodka infused yakult and freeze.
In a large oven proof casserole with a lid, place the rice, water, milk, sugar and ground spices, give it a good stir, it will happily blip away in the low oven with the lamb for 2-3 hrs. Stir occasionally, adding a little extra liquid if required.
Whizz up all the ingredients for the delicious lamb serving sauce soy, rice wine, sugar and five spice, taste and adjust to your taste buds. The sauce should be thick and sweet, yet sour with the hint of Chinese five spice. Place in Mongolian looking dishes, cover and chill in the fridge until needed.
Shred up the carrots, cabbage and onion, again place in Mongolian vessels, cover and keep chilled until needed.
So to the Buuz. In a large frying pan drizzle oil, sweat diced onions for 5 minutes, add crushed garlic and diced carrots and continue to cook until soft. Add the wild boar meat, frying and breaking it up, add spices and season well, taste and set aside to cool.
Recipe for flatbreads. adjust the ingredients and make plenty.
Roll out the pastry into long rectangular sheets, fill with the cooled meaty mixture, rolling them up into a long sausage shape, seal the joints with beaten egg, place on a lined baking tray in the shape of horseshoes and bake for 20 minutes in a moderate oven until golden.
Serve the Buuz on large platters with fresh picked salad leaves and Houses of Parliament sauce, yep they have HP sauce in Mongolia :). The idea here is that your guests get to break pieces off dip and devoir.
Serve the lamb straight from the fire onto big wooden boards with a carving knife and fork stabbed into each joint with the dishes of shredded vegetables, sauce and warmed caraway flatbreads. This is a most wonderful sharing experience, filling your flatbread with heaps of ripped lamb, handfuls of shredded veg and a large spoonful of dark sticky sauce.
Bring the rice to the table, serve scattered with sliced apple, handfuls of sultanas, seeds and chopped nuts and a drizzle of cream, not forgetting a shot of frozen yakult vodka on the side.
Please take a moment to share in our joy, read the story and leave a comment or too. When's your Come Dine With us !!!!!!