Nicci comes from Ukraine. She loves cooking, tasting foods, and learning about different global cuisines.
Like any other cuisine, Eastern European food is one of a kind. Given its location on the globe, it's not surprising that the cuisine is influenced by traditions from Northern and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Siberia, the Caucuses, and East Asia. In this article, I'll talk about 20 foods that I personally like, starting with those I enjoy most.
1. Borscht Soup
Borscht is a very famous soup that is eaten all over Ukraine as well as Russia. It's made of beets, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, spring onions, garlic, and tomatoes, and it is garnished with dill leaves. It's often made as a vegetarian dish, but you can also add meat, if you like. Borscht is one of our many comfort foods, and I personally enjoy eating this soup during the harsh winters here in Ukraine. It is typically served with a spoonful of sour cream on top and brown bread on the side.
2. Solyanka Soup
Solyanka is another soup that I enjoy. The main ingredients here are sausage, potatoes, carrots, onions, pickled cucumbers, and herbs. Like borscht, it's garnished with dill leaves, but with solyanka we also add black olives. What I like most about this soup is the sour flavor. It's served with a spoonful of sour cream, a slice of lemon on top—and, of course, brown bread.
3. Okroshka Soup
Okroshka is a common summer soup, and it's usually eaten cold. It can be made with yoghurt, mayonnaise, or kvass (see entry below on kvass). The soup also incorporates vegetables—typically cucumbers and spring onions—which are mixed with sausages and boiled egg, both of which are cut into small cubes. Like borscht and solyanka, okroshka is garnished with dill leaves. I love to eat this soup during the summer, as it helps cool the body.
Pirozhki is a fast food or convenience food. They are stuffed buns with a variety of fillings inside, including cabbage, potato, meat, liver, mushrooms, or combinations of vegetables and meat. They can be fried or baked, and they can be served warm or hot. I like eating pirozhki with tea or coffee on those days when I don't have time to make my usual breakfast. My favorite fillings are the cabbage and the meat.
5. Salat Olivye
Salat olivye is a traditional potato salad. The main ingredients are boiled potatoes, boiled carrots, boiled eggs, sausage or meat, pickled cucumbers, boiled green peas, mayonnaise, dill, and parsley. All are mixed together along with salt and black pepper. This salad is one of the traditional foods that is prepared during the New Year's celebrations in Russia and Ukraine.
Blini are stuffed pancakes that can be sweet or savory. Sweet fillings include fruits like apple, bananas, or strawberries; and savory fillings include cabbage, potatoes, or meat. Depending on whether they are sweet or savory, they are typically served with chocolate sauce or sour cream. You often see blini being sold as a street food.
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Chebureki is a stuffed, crescent-shaped dough pocket that is deep-fried. The filling is usually minced meat and onions. Chebureki is a very common street food.
8. Pickled Vegetables
There is a long tradition in Russia of pickling summer vegetables in salt water so that they may be consumed through the cold winter months. Typical vegetables for pickling include cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, and cabbages. I like eating pickled vegetables as a side dish—they have great flavor.
A beloved traditional dish, kholodets is basically a meat jelly, or aspic. The jelly is made from meat stock or consomme, and it's served cold.
Salo is cured pork fat. It is a common food and that can be eaten either cooked or raw. Sometimes people eat it as a snack with vodka. I enjoy eating potatoes cooked with salo—it's a very tasty dish.
Pirog (pirogi is the plural form) is a pie with sweet or savory filling. The name comes from the word pir, meaning "banquet" or "festivity" in an ancient form of the Russian language.
Pelmeni are dumplings. They are made of unleavened dough that is filled with a combination of potatoes, mushrooms, or meat. Once the dough is stuffed, they are boiled for 15 to 20 minutes. They can be made into various sizes and shapes—but they are always very tasty. Typically, they're served with sour cream. Fried pelmeni is another variation, which I also enjoy.
You cannot leave Eastern Europe without sampling the vodka—this drink is an important part of the cultural traditions. It is customary to eat food while drinking vodka; drinking sessions without food are discouraged.
Kvass is a low-alcohol fermented beverage that even kids can enjoy on a hot summer day. It's made from rye bread. Kvass is available in supermarkets but it tastes better when it's homemade. I have tasted both types, and I can assure you that the homemade version is much better.
Shashlik are grilled meat skewers. Usually, they are made in the summer as part of the traditional seasonal ritual of going to the forest with family and friends for picnics and shashlik. Every year, I wait patiently for summer to arrive so that I can go to the forest with my friends to cook some shashlik and have a nice time.
Russian caviar is considered to be a delicacy not only in Russia but also all over the world. Caviar is salt-cured fish eggs. The most famous type is beluga sturgeon caviar. This is certainly a treat that should not be missed when visiting this country.
Shuba, also known as beet and herring salad, is a layered salad that contains beets, herring, boiled potatoes, carrots, and a few other vegetables. All of the vegetables and fish are arranged in layers. Sometimes egg is grated on top as a garnish.
Syrniki is a dessert pancake made with cottage cheese, eggs, flour, sugar, and some salt. I think it's very yummy, and it's also very filling.
Kompot is homemade juice. It's made by boiling fruits in large quantities of water, and sugar is usually added for sweetness. It can be served cold or hot depending on the season. I enjoy drinking kompot without sugar because it's healthier.
20. Beef Stroganoff
Beef stroganoff is made by sautéeing strips of beef and mushrooms in a sour cream sauce. It's usually served with pasta. This dish actually isn't one of my favorites, but many people enjoy it.
I hope you've enjoyed this virtual food tour of Eastern European cuisine. Whether you are planning a trip to region or simply interested in expanding your palate, I hope you've gleaned some valuable information here.
As we say in Russian, priyatnogo appetita!
© 2017 nicci