Kalmyks in the Kitchen: Kalmyk Tsa

photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tangysd/3500358293/

Just to preface this recipe, every Kalmyk family makes Kalmyk tsa differently depending on preference and family tradition. No one recipe is more correct than another.

Lee and Lara Urubshurow Recipe:

1. On the stove, heat about 1 quart of water in a large pot

2. add about 3 lipton tea bags (tied together)

3. let it brew

4. add a teaspoon of salt

5. mix in 2% milk/carnation milk (add until it is the color of milk in coffee)

6. stir

7. add salted butter (about 3 medium sized slices with a knife)

optional: add one bay leaf and/or nutmeg for taste

8. Ladel it 100 times to incorporate the butter into the tea

photo source: http://photoblog.pixinn.net/index.php?showimage=217

serve hot/warm

Anonymous said: what are the Kalmyk burial rites?

Burial rites as in burial vs cremation? Or the rituals of a death?

If the first, then I can only speculate. I recognize that the popular procedure is burial; however, Buddhist tradition suggests cremation or a return of the body to the earth, of sorts. That being said, I believe the decision of one over the other is dependent solely upon the deceased and their views. Some prefer the idea of a grave site and coffin while others prefer to release their physical form to their origins. Speaking with and understanding the person before death will direct you to their preference.

If the latter: an incomplete list of protocol was posted earlier (and can be found by clicking on “archive”). But, in addition to that post, the following are the contents of an anonymous submission pertaining to deathly rituals:

-light a candle (zul) the first day of the passing and continue to fuel the fire through the full 49 days (one member of the immediate family should stay up the first night to watch the candle) Reason: once the spirit/amn leaves the body, the candle is lit to guide the soul/sumsn through the post-death journey.

- Before the 49 days end, a service known as Honagen Tussahuh should be held at the home of the deceased. family members may recite the mantras along with manyas to strengthen the power. 

-During the 49 days, immediate family should not partake in celebrations (parties, drinking, etc…)

- Kalmyks help one another during buyins

I did not post this earlier since I could not verify all of this information. 

Again, if any one has anything to add, that would be great!

A Closer Look at Burkhan Bakshin Altan Sume Buddhist Temple in Elista, Kalmykia

(incredibly) brief introduction: After the Geden Sheddup Choikorling, a tibetan name as “a holy abode for theory and pracice of the school of gelugpa,” was founded in 1996, the Burkhan Bakshin Altan Sume (“The Golden Abode of the Buddha Shakyamuni”) was established in 2005.

the following are pictures of the inside of the temple

Detail of wall to the left of the main altar
Wall to the right of the main altar
Detail of wall to the right of the main altar
Detail of wall to the right of the main altar
The back wall
Detail of the back wall
Detail of the back wall
Green Taras on the back wall
Green Tara on the back wall
Green Taras on the back wall
Green Tara on the back wall
Buddhas on a side wall
Buddhas on a side wall

Detail of Dalai Lama artwork

Mandala in the ceiling the main hall of the temple. The top side of this mandala is the center of a Huge Conference Table on the fourth floor of the temple.
Top side of the mandala visible on the ceiling of the main hall of the temple

Third floor balcony overlooking the main hall of the temple. 
Third floor balcony overlooking the main hall of the temple
Buddha on the main altar from the third floor balcony
and the Dalai Lama has a floor for himself on his visits on the upper level of the temple
Some facts on the temples:
  • Geden Sheddup Choikorling was the first temple built in the Republic of Kalmykia after Joseph Stalin ordered the destruction of all Buddhist temples and monasteries during the Collectivization era and the Great Purge.
  • Republic of Kalmykia President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov dedicated the new temple to Kalmyks who died during and after their sudden and forced exile to Siberia after December 27, 1943.
  • The walls of the Burkhan Bakshin Altan Sume have been covered with magnificent murals done by Tibetan artists imported from India. 
(photos and descriptions source: http://www.doncroner.net/labels/Kalmyks.html)

“We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.” ― Kalu Rinpoche

a buddhist paradigm

Kalmyks in the Kitchen: Bozik

SO HERE IT IS!!!! the kalmyk jackpot!



~1.5lb ground red meat
~1 or 1.5 medium red onion, chopped
3 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs tereyaki sauce
4 or 5 scallions, diced
salt and pepper to taste
5 or 6 garlic cloves, diced
1 egg
Dash of sugar

Mix, let sit in refrigerator

~5 or 6 cups of white flower
Enough warm water to achieve the consistency of an earlobe

Let dough sit for ~20 or 30 minutes, cover with damp towel

Roll out sheet of dough, use rim of wine glass to cut out circles. In the center of each circle, place about 1 tsp of meet filling. Fold dough circle in half, enclosing filling. Pinch ends together in a fashionable manor.

Boil large pot of water with splash of olive oil. Boil raw busik. Keep water moving and don’t let busik stick together. After about a minute, busik will float in water. Let them float for ~3 or 4 minutes. Take out of water, place in container/bowl. Rinse in olive oil or butter to prevent sticking.


In a sealable Mason jar (or equivalent):
~1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup tereyaki sauce
splash of fish oil
3 or 4 scallions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1-2 tbs sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Speaking of superstitions

Besides knocking on wood and checking the weather before cooking (ya know, for humidity),  Kalmyks do have a few superstitions that would seem quite strange to outside folk. One category: Bridal dowry

It is said (by whom? who knows) the groom’s family shall hand deliver the head of a lamb to the bride’s household or the marriage will dissolve. EYES INCLUDED (different sources say different things regarding the tongue and teeth)

AND some families request a little bit more…like an entire bed, else the new family will have trouble expanding or so to say.

any other interesting superstitions? send em on over!

Anonymous said: How come Telo Rinpoche is never invited to speak at garrison???

hmm I am not all too sure the answer to this question. Unfortunately, I am not affiliated with the garrison institute nor am I privy to information regarding scheduling and organization of the retreat/conferences held there. The garrison is an incredible non-profit organization centering on the interfaith connection between contemplation and engaged action, and does hold some buddhism retreats on site with regard to such connection. So, considering some of Telo Rinpoche’s work with the Kalmyk people, he would seem a relevant speaker candidate. Maybe he has yet to be considered/his work has yet to be incorporated into the seminar topics? Not sure. But, hopefully, one day he may be invited! 

for more information on the garrison institute: http://www.garrisoninstitute.org/

I will try to get in contact in the conference organizers, if possible.

Kalmyks in the Kitchen: Shulun (lamb soup)

So the first of the recipes to debut on this silly site is quite a staple (well, kinda…)

Shulun. Recipe by chu chu Gincha Balsirow

Shulun (with some greens, which this recipe does not include)



add more salt if needed

2 notes | Reblog
2 years ago

Thank you Natalie for the information on the National Geographic Enduring Voices Project! 

The Enduring Voices Project also did a segment on the Xyzyl language of the Republic of Xakasia (northwest of Mongolia)

For those interested in other Mongolic people, the Xyzyl were also featured in the project! The enduring voices team will be working with them to create a talking dictionary to help them with language preservation.

The Enduring Voices Project strives to preserve endangered languages by identifying language hotspots—the places on our planet with the most unique, poorly understood, or threatened indigenous languages—and documenting the languages and cultures within them.

By Gregory Anderson of the Enduring Voices Project

The 2012 Enduring Voices expedition to the Siberia Language Hotspot has allowed us to explore the current state of the Xyzyl (pronounced hizzle) language from the Republic of Xakasia (pronounced ha-KAH-see-ya, also spelled “Khakasiya”).

We traveled across the birch-covered hills of southern Siberia and into the wind-swept steppe dotted with ancient burial mounds until we reached the Xyzyl territory northwest of Mongolia. We visited five villages and identified fifty to sixty total speakers and semi-speakers.

Xyzyl is an unrecognized “hidden” language officially considered a dialect of the Xakas language. Xyzyl people we interviewed insist theirs is a separate language and our linguistic analysis supports this. Below you can see some examples that show both some similar sounding words such as those for “I hear” and some drastically different ones such as those for “woman.”




Xyzyl is critically endangered, most speakers being sixty or older. In the main Xyzyl village Sarala, we met the self-taught linguist Mikhail Tabatkin, who has been toiling his entire life to preserve words and stories in his language.

Denis Tokmashev and Dr. Gregory DS Anderson interview Mikhail M. Tabatkin, a language activist for the Xyzyl language in Sarala, Xakasia. Photo by Jeremy Fahringer / Enduring Voices Project

In one village, Ustinkino, we were suprised to meet an eleven year old girl living with her grandmother, who speaks to her only in Xyzyl. This girl is at least forty years younger than the next youngest speaker we met. We will be working with the Xyzyl people to create a talking dictionary and grammar to help them preserve their ancient tongue.

source: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/05/21/ng-explorers-help-record-xyzyl-language/

National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project

National Geographic has initiated the enduring voices project in an attempt to discover, share, and respect dying languages around the world. In doing so, they hope to increase interest in such languages and celebrate the diversity of the past and modern world.

And, they recently found the Kalmyks!

The Enduring Voices team visited the Republic of Kalmykia, in European Russia, where they found evidence of a strong cultural revitalization among the younger generation, expressed in song, dance, poetry, and renewed use of the Kalmyk language.

For more information about the project, follow this link to the project’s main page: 


AND The following text is the written introduction to the Kalmyk portion:

Cultural Revival in Europe’s Only Buddhist Region

The Enduring Voices Project strives to preserve endangered languages by identifying language hotspots—the places on our planet with the most unique, poorly understood, or threatened indigenous languages—and documenting the languages and cultures within them.

By K. David Harrison of the Enduring Voices Project

During the past week the Enduring Voices team visited the Republic of Kalmykia, an obscure corner in European Russia, on the Caspian Sea.

The Kalmyk people are of Mongol origin, having migrated to Europe from Mongolia at the turn of the 17th century. They experienced genocide and deportation in the 1940s under Stalin, and have struggled to keep their culture alive. They are former nomads, with an economy still partly based on horse, sheep, and camel herding.

Garya Lidzheyev, a Kalmyk photographer, travels the world to photograph Buddhist traditions, thus contributing to the revival of Buddhist practice in his native Kalmykia. Photo by Chris Rainier

Though the language, related to Mongolian, is endangered, we found evidence of a strong cultural revitalization among the younger generation, expressed in song, dance, poetry, and renewed use of the language. We met Kalmyks aged 9 to 91 who were determined to keep their language and culture alive by all means, whether learning ancient epic hero tales, dancing, reviving Buddhist practice, or using modern technology like texting and social media.

The Kalmyk community in New Jersey has also managed to keep the language and culture alive in the U.S., after emigrating in the 1950s. The Enduring Voices team will be working with leading Kalmyk cultural activists to help promote the language and raise awareness about this rich culture.

Kalmyk children practice traditional dance, helping keep their historic culture alive. Photo by Chris Rainier



*Also, the videos I recently posted are the documented clips from national geographic site on the talent and culture they found within Kalmykia. 

Dmitriy Sharayev talks about Kalmyk culture and learning to perform parts of the Jangar epic. 

Language: Kalmyk
Location: Elista, Republic of Kalmykia, Russian Federation
Date: 21 May 2012
Filmed by Jeremy Fahringer / Enduring Voices Project
Source: Kalmyk - Dmitriy Sharayev on Kalmyk culture, playing topshur in yurt.mov

Baator Gavrilovitch Bukhaev on the state of Kalmyk culture and music.

Language: Kalmyk
Location: Elista, Republic of Kalmykia, Russian Federation
Date: 21 May 2012
Filmed by Jeremy Fahringer / Enduring Voices Project
Source: Kalmyk - Baator Gavrilovitch Bukhaev on state of Kalmyk.mov

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