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Raw liver, singed sheep's head, and boiled stomach pudding

Encounters with traditional Buriat cuisine

Sharon Hudgins

Indigenous to Inner Asia, Buriats are a formerly nomadic people who now reside in southern Siberia, in the areas east and west of Lake Baikal. Although settled members of the Russian Federation, their traditional cuisine reflects their nomadic roots. Milk and meat products - from horses, cattle, sheep, and goats - are still the two main components of the Buriats' diet, supplemented by wild and cultivated plants (primarily hardy grains and root vegetables). Despite living within the dominant Russian culture, some Buriats still retain their shamanistic beliefs and make offerings to deities or spirits when drinking alcohol or eating certain foods. They have also preserved their ritual methods of slaughtering and butchering livestock, as well as traditional ways of processing the meat.