Author: Eres Kara-Sal
Dalgan is a delicious childhood memory. I often asked mother and father to prepare it for me. It’s easier to make then instant noodles – anyone can mix it into tea or milk, but there is something special in the parental touch. I think many Tuvan people understand what I mean, what I felt. We treat dalgan with respect as our ancestral food.
Modern food for the busy life
Nowadays, you can find Tuvan dalgan almost in every market across Tuva. It is a rich food, which has all the dietary elements of a balanced meal. dalgan made from barley is especially good for you. It is also an excellent solution for diabetics and allergy sufferers, as long as you keep it sugar-free that is. In our busy days dalgan is a perfect substitute for fast food. It’s also cheap.
Dalgan can be eaten dry with milk or tea. It is the food of our nomadic ancestors, and there is nothing better for travelers or just busy people.
Dalgan is usually mixed with Tuvan tea or milk to form a thick paste. A spot of melted butter or cottage cheese makes it just right. Depending on your taste, you can pretty much add whatever you want. You can’t ruin it. Sugar, honey, jam, syrup, cocoa, etc, to list just some examples. Especially creative children like to sculpt figures from dalgan.
Making dalgan is a laborious process but Tuvans are the professionals. For us, it’s effortless. As mentioned above, dalgan made from barley or wheat. First of all, the grains are steamed to make it easier to peel off the husk. Then they are roasted until they dry completely. The grains are threshed in a wooden mortar (sogaash) with a pestle (bala) until the husk (kara duk) appears. Then you get rid of the grain husks. The process is repeated one more time to cleanse the grains completely. Finally, it is ready to eat. In a dry place it can be stored for very long time.
The Sacred White Food
In the Tuvan culture dalgan is in the ‘Sacred White Food’ category which includes milk, kumiss (horse milk), araga (alcoholic product made from milk), etc. It means that dalgan can be used in sacred rituals devoted to the Gods and Spirits of our land.