Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Around the World with Pancakes: Mongolian Gambir

We're trying out pancakes from around the world, looking beyond fluffy pancakes and beyond breakfast food

We recently tried Mongolian pancakes, gambir, as an afternoon snack. While breaking off pieces of gambir, Elle located Mongolia on a map, and we looked at the beautiful vast expanses, wild horses and gers showcased in this slideshow of Mongolian pastoral herders, one of the world's last remaining nomadic cultures.

Hustai National Park, the ger (aka yurt) is the traditional Mongolian dwelling
Photo Credit: Micheal; Map adapted from & sourced through CIA World Factbook

Mongolian pancakes are simple, slightly sweet pan fried dough. They make for a tasty snack, best eaten hot, barely cooled off the pan. Put them all on one plate, and break off pieces to eat while sitting around together learning about Mongolia. Or just catching up on your day.

Gambir being prepared and cooked in Mongolian ger - isn't the stove interesting?
Photo Credit: LeeAnne Adams

This recipe makes enough for 4 pancakes. It's easy enough for kids to make their own though they might need help rolling out the dough because it has quite a "bounce back" and you don't want them to be too thick or they won't cook through. In two of the pancakes we used leftover cinnamon sugar instead of just sugar, and that made for a nice flavor as well.

Mongolian Gambir

Makes 4
Original recipe from Mongol Food

  • 2 cups all purpose flour + more for rolling out
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • oil for pan
1. Mix together the flour and water until well combined and you have a soft dough. Cover and let sit for 15 min.

2. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Dust your work surface well with flour and roll out a piece of dough. Like I mentioned, the dough bounces back a fair bit, but keep working it until it's less than 1/4". At least no more than 1/4".

3. Brush 1 tbsp of melted butter over the surface of the dough then sprinkle with 1 tbsp of the sugar. Roll the dough into into a cylinder, brushing off any excess flour.

4. As seen below, take that cylinder of dough, put it up vertically in one hand and squish it down with the other. Then smoosh that dough ball around, combining the butter and sugar in the dough. (squish and smoosh are real directions, right?) 

5. Take the next 3 pieces of dough and repeat steps 2, 3, 4 for each.

6. Heat a pan on medium-low. While it's heating, re-roll out a ball of dough to 1/4" or less. Then cut two parallel slits in the center of the dough - this will keep it from blistering when cooking. 

7. Cook one pancake at a time on low heat, 3-5 minutes per side. When the dough starts to get brown fried spots on the bottom, flip it. Keep it on low because you don't want the outside to burn before the inside is cooked. 

8. Enjoy warm, breaking off pieces and sharing. 

Learn more about Mongolia at Around the World in 12 Dishes, and find more recipes and crafts at their link up.

Find more posts exploring culture, geography and history with kids at

Find more pancake recipes on our page:


  1. That is a very interesting technique. I wonder how it makes it different than if you just rolled it back into a ball without that squish and smoosh. This is such a fun series.

    1. I wonder whether the sugar and butter would spread as well? Although, the smooshing was the fun part :)

  2. This would have been fun during our mongolia study. I, too, love this series - who would have thought there would be so many variations on the humble pancake!

    1. As you can see, we're having a lot of fun with this as well :) Partially because I can't seem to be hemmed into to only learning about one region at a time!

  3. I didn't know the slits keep it from blistering, I wonder if that works with tortillas....


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