Traditional Cuisine - Bakery

This collection hosts videos of recipes, table etiquette, stories and legends about bakery.

Due to the nomadic lifestyle of the Kalmyks, traditional baked items and baking methods have been rather simple. For example, bulsn guir, which is a staple, is baked as follows. A piece of dough is put in a pan with butter and then covered with a lid. Then the pan is put inside a heap of red-hot dung and left until the biscuits are baked. Bortsg, traditional biscuits of various size and shapes, are fried in oil. One of the favourite dishes among the Kalmyks is bulmuk, a spoonful of dough mixed with berries and fried in butter or cream.


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  • ItemOpen Access
    Galina Erdneeva, Bortsg
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-10-01) Terbish, Baasanjav; Bembeev, Aleksandr; Korneev, Gennadiy; Bembeev, Aleksandr
  • ItemOpen Access
    Svetlana Orusova, bortsg biscuits and tea
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-10-01) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Bembeev, Aleksandr
    In this video Svetlana shows how to make Kalmyk biscuits and tea. While cooking, she talks about various recipes and biscuit varieties. She says that dough for biscuits and tea should be mixed clock-wise. The first part of fresh tea and hot biscuits should always be put on the altar as an offering to gods.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Maria Dontsova, Bakery
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-12-01) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Korneev, Gennadiy; Bembeev, Aleksandr
    Maria says she often cooks Kalmyk fry breads. During Zul and Tsagan Sar she makes bortsg biscuits. When people bring her gifts (biscuits, a class of vodka or sweets), she first puts them on her domestic altar.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Zurgada Antonova, About Bortsg
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-08-01) Terbish, Baasanjav; Okonov, Andzhur; Seleeva, Tsagan
    Zurgada talks about the recipe and bortsg varieties:In the past people made bortsg biscuits according to their financial abilities. Some added milk, others water. But the most important thing was to make sure that the house was filled with smoke coming from the frying pan. As oil people used sheep’s or cow’s fat. Sometimes they used mustard butter as well. Those who could not afford to make bortsg according to rules, borrowed fat leftovers from each other. We (in our house) made the following bortsg. Tselvg: is a round shaped biscuit. Khorkha: resembles a small ball. Kit: the shape of this biscuit resembles horse intestines. Moshkmr: has a shape of twisted sheep’s intestines. Khuts: means a ram. Galuna baasn: means a bird’s droppings. In the beginning people make bortsg for offerings, including such varieties as tselvg, khuts, kit and others. Since we did not have a mother, our sister-in-law would bring us biscuits, put them on the altar for gods, drink tea and then leave. The altar was always full of biscuits, and we never went hungry. Also, I remember that Torghut people always gave bortsg biscuits to children when they visited others.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Maya Karueva, Bortsg
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2015-09-26) Terbish, Baasanjav; Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira
    Maya talks about bortsg varieties. Tselvg: it is a round shaped biscuit symbolizing the sun. Since it is the sun that gives life to us, this biscuit should be fried first before other varieties. Temyan: it is made in the shape of a camel which is a respected animal among the Kalmyks and Mongols. Khuts: in shape, it resembles a ram which is a highly respected animal. Shovun: this biscuit resembles a bird. Zhola: it looks like a horse rein. The horse is the best assistant of a nomad. Kit: this biscuit resembles a horse’s intestines. It is among the biscuits that is used for offerings. Moshkmr: it resembles twisted sheep’s intestines. Nokhan keln: it resembles a dog’s tongue. The dog helps people. Shor: this biscuit looks like a bayonet, symbolizing one’s readiness to fight the enemy. Khorkha: this biscuit symbolizes fertility. People offer this biscuit to deities in the morning. It is believed that Green Tara pays a visit to all households.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Maria Kamandzhaeva, Bortsg Varieties
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2016-08-31) Terbish, Baasanjav; Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumov, Anton
    Maria talks about different varieties of traditional biscuits called bortsg. Ingredients: flour, cow’s milk, butter, salt, sugar and vegetable oil. Bortsg varieties are as follows. Tselvg: it is a round shaped biscuit symbolizing the sun. Togsh: resembling a livestock shelter, this biscuit symbolizes the abundance of livestock. Shovun: in the shape of a bird, this biscuit symbolizes the coming of the spring. Moshkmr: it resembles twisted intestines of a sheep and symbolizes family unity. Zhola: this biscuit looks like a horse rein. It symbolizes longevity. Temyan: made in the shape of a camel, this biscuit symbolizes the abundance of camels. Shor: resembling a bayonet, it symbolizes the readiness to defend one’s family/clan from enemies. Khuts: made in the form of a sheep, this biscuit symbolizes the abundance of sheep. Kit: this biscuit resembles a part of a horse’s intestines and symbolizes the abundance of food. Ovrte togsh: it symbolizes an increase in the number of cattle. Khorkha: this biscuit symbolizes the abundance of livestock and fertility.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Maria Erdnieva, About Baking Bread
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-02-01) Terbish, Baasanjav; Terbish, Baasanjav; Gedeeva, Darina; Babaev, Andrei
    Maria says that during her childhood shops did not sell bread. Her mother baked bread in the stove. She wrapped the dough in a newspaper and put it inside hot ashes. In the past people did not overeat as it is the case today.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Ksenia Kardonova, About Bortsg Biscuits and Tsagan Sar
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-06-06) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Korneev, Gennadiy; Bembeev, Aleksandr; Bembeev, Aleksandr
    Ksenia Kardonova talks about traditional biscuits and the holiday of Tsagan Sar: Today it is easy to cook bortsg, but before there was little flour. Rich people could make bortsg from white flour, poor – from rye flour, it was grey in colour. Usually bortsg biscuits were cooked on holidays, for example, on Tsagan Sar. There were many varieties of bortsg, 5 or 6. It was a custom to visit each other on Tsagan Sar, children especially loved it. Children were given bortsg, so they could bring them to their neighbours as present. If the coming year was the year of the Dog (according to the lunar calendar), then people would make a special bortsg – the symbol of the year, called ‘nokhan keln’ (dog’s tongue). This variety of bortsg should first be offered to the altar, after some time bortsg from the altar can be eaten.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Badma Ochirova, About Diet in Siberia
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-02-01) Terbish, Baasanjav; Kornyakova, Saglara; Babaev, Andrei; Saglara Kornyakova; Shipeeva, Danara
    Badma reminisces about what Kalmyks ate in Siberia. She says that they ate corn, potatoes, porridge and biscuits. Meat was in short supply. People also made a dish from potatoes, eggs, cabbage, beetroot and sprat all mixed together in water. When she was in Siberia, her diet included berries, vegetables, margarine and fat.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Elena Markhanova, Elena Ayushieva, Bortsg and Tea
    (2016-08-18) Churyumov, Anton; Churyumov, Anton
    The main staple of the Kalmyks is meat, usually mutton, and Kalmyk tea. Kalmyks offer these two things to others on practically all occasions – during weddings, to guests, before sending their relatives off on a long journey etc. The first cup of freshly made tea is always put on the altar at home. It is called deezh in Kalmyk. The Kalmyks have several varieties of bortsg or biscuits. On ordinary days people make biscuit varieties called tselvg and togsh. During holidays they make special biscuits. In this video the two informants give the recipes for bortsg and Kalmyk tea. At the end, the informants sit at the table and say well wishes while holding a cup of Kalmyk tea.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Antonina Boskhandjieva, Alexandra Nastaeva, Bortsg
    (2015-04-28) Churyumova, Elvira; Okonov, Andzhur; Terbish, Baasanjav
    In the beginning of the video Antonina gives a recipe for bortsg, Kalmyk biscuits: Melt a package of margarine in boiling water, then add half a litre of milk, a spoonful of salt, two spoonfuls of sugar and a spoonful of yeast. Mix all these with dough. The dough has to be neither too soft nor too tough. Then cover the dough with a bowl and leave it in a warm room for an hour. Antonina and her colleague Alexandra make the following types of biscuits. Tselvg or khavtkha: Round in shape, this biscuit symbolizes the sun. It is pinched around the edges to give the impression of the sun's rays. In the middle the biscuit has one or sometimes several holes. Apart from the sun, this biscuit also can represent a well or a lake. In this case, the border is not pinched. Jola or moshkmr: This biscuit looks like a helix or a folded, twisted horse lead and symbolizes a long road. Temyan: It is made in the shape of a camel with two humps. Khuts and khutsin tolga: This biscuit is made in the shape of a ram's head or a whole ram and symbolizes an increase in the number of livestock. Kit: This biscuit resembles the duodenum of a horse. The surface is slightly cut with a knife to represent the uneven surface of the intestines. Both ends of the biscuit are connected together. Togsh: This biscuit symbolizes an increase in livestock. Shor: It looks like a spear with two sharp ends. The middle of the biscuit is wider. Mendin belg: In terms of shape, this biscuit resembles a handshake (i.e. two hands). Shovun: It is made in the shape of a bird. Khorkha: This biscuit looks like a small ball, and is meant for children. Antonina says that her mother used to make this biscuit with sugar. There is a belief that the bigger and rounder the biscuit, the more children the family will have. Antonina's mother gave birth to 10 children. Alexandra says that making biscuits is supposed to be a joyful occasion and that Kalmyks usually tell a lot of jokes when doing so. Kalmyk biscuits are fried in sheep's fat. Antonina mixes sheep's fat with vegetable oil. Biscuits should be fried until they become yellowish in colour. Antonina says that she learnt how to make biscuits from her mother. Now she often makes biscuits for her grandchildren. When the biscuits are ready, Antonina puts several of them on a plate as an offering to the gods. The biscuits are left on the altar usually for a day and then are given either to the youngest or the oldest member of her family. They cannot be given to strangers or distant relatives. There are about 17 different shapes for biscuits.