Make Do Mongolian Stew
The Story Behind Mongolian make-Do Stew and 'Dirty Dining.'
In what is one of the least inhabited countries on the planet, hundreds of miles can separate nomadic villages, and food can be scarce. When you do find a small village, the foodstuffs available may often be limited to stale biscuits, out-of-date Snickers bars and chips. Shopping in a small Ger (Mongolian hut) you may find a few carrots, potatoes and onions that have all seen better days and, if you are extremely lucky, some processed sausage meat. There is absolutely nothing green apart from the few strands of grass you rode in on.
Sitting light-headed and heavy-limbed on the side of the sandy track in the Gobi Desert, I’d never felt so exhausted and wind beaten. We had ridden our motorbikes through deserts and rock fields for sixteen hours, with just a few breaks to sip on our dwindling water supply. With the sun setting quickly, we now had to erect our tent and prepare a meal.
After willing myself to my feet I hunted through my small motorcycle side box, in which I carry a variety of utensils and food items–spices, herbs, honey, and the processed sausage and wrinkled root vegetables I'd bought in the middle of nowhere yesterday. I knew the meat wouldn’t spoil for a few days, especially in these cold temperatures.
Still covered in dust and dirt, I sat down and started my small MSR camp stove. I had no idea what I was going to cook but this challenge has been part of the fun. My husband Simon and I have spent the last fourteen years exploring almost 100 countries on every continent on earth and I’ve prepared meals in every one, aiming to keep our bodies healthy and our taste buds entertained.
After twenty minutes of prepping, chopping, and stirring, I produced a “Make-Do Mongolian Stew,” a meal that I would have been proud to serve from my kitchen in England. I spooned the stew into our metal bowls as a freezing wind ripped at the tent flaps. It was pronounced delicious, and the idea for Dirty Dining: An Adventurer’s Cookbook was born.
RECIPE: Make Do Mongolian Stew