TOP 12 TRADITIONAL RUSSIAN FOOD
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Russia may not be the first to come to mind when you think of a food destination, but the country has plenty of delicious traditional dishes to try. Visitors to Russia are often surprised at the variety and flavors of Russian cuisine, which is influenced by Russia’s connection to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
The most classic Russian recipes are made of veggies and wheat, such as soups, porridges, and stuffed dough.
Solyanka is a thick soup that is plentiful enough to be a meal in itself. This soup is made with various types of meat, including sausage, bacon, ham, and beef, as well as vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, onions, and potatoes.
Chopped pickles and the traditional lemon slice garnish play an important role in giving this recipe its sour flavor.
Blini or blin is a wheat pancake rolled with a variety of fillings: jam, cheese, sour cream, caviar, onions, or even chocolate syrup. It is Russia’s equivalent to a crepe.
At any restaurant where you aren’t sure of any of the other dishes, blini are always a safe bet. Blini are such an important part of Russian cuisine.
Borscht is a beet soup that originated in the Ukraine and was quickly adopted as a Russian specialty as well. Beets may seem like a strange base for soup to many Westerners, but there are plenty of reasons that this hearty soup is one of Russia’s most famous dishes.
It is full of meat and sautéed vegetables, including cabbage, carrots, onions, and potatoes. It can be served hot or cold, and is best served with a dollop of fresh sour cream on top .
You may have already heard of pirozhki (also known as piroshki or pyrizhky). These little baked or fried puff pastries are packed full of potatoes, meat, cabbage, or cheese. The stuffed pockets are popular all around Russia, and Ukraine .
5. Olivier Salad
Known as Russian salad around the world, Olivier is a variation of potato salad invented in the 1860s by Lucien Olivier. A Belgian chef at Moscow‘s most popular restaurant at the time, the Hermitage. The original recipe was lost, but it is known that the salad was made with caviar, grouse, smoked duck, veal tongue and had its own secret sauce.
Today the mayo-infused Olivier contains much simpler ingredients: boiled potatoes, carrots, eggs, peas, pickles, and boiled chicken or beef. This salad is ultimate comfort food for Russians and an absolute must on holidays like New Year’s Eve .
Russian kotleti are fried meat patties, which come out particularly juicy thanks to minced onion and bread crumbs that are added to the meat. Kotleti are usually made of beef or chicken, however most of Russian-style restaurants will offer you pike patties as well (and those are usually fantastic).
Fried and crispy, kotleti are served with a side of mashed potatoes, pasta or buckwheat kasha .
One of Russia’s most popular desserts, this super sweet honey cake is on the menu of most restaurants and cafés across the country. Invented in the Imperial Palace’s kitchen in the 19th century, Medovik was presumably the favourite cake of Empress Elizabeth, the wife of Emperor Alexander I.
Traditionally layered with thick sour cream, today the cake has more variations than you can probably imagine: with condensed milk, custard and dried fruit, or buttercream and walnuts – no matter which one you decide to try, you’ll understand why the Empress loved this dessert so much .
8. Pickled Vegetables
Not so long ago pickles used to be such a big part of Russians’ diet that they would spend summers at their dachas growing vegetables to preserve. They did it not just because pickles are so great with vodka (even though they are) but rather to include vegetables in their winter menu, when fresh produce is scarce.
Also pickled cucumbers, tomatoes and cabbage are a healthy source of probiotics, which makes them a wonderful find for people who are lactose intolerant .
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Russian pirozhki are pan-fried or oven-baked mini pies, stuffed with any fillings imaginable: from meat, fish and egg to potato, cabbage and mushrooms, to sweet cottage cheese and jam.
You can buy them from a street vendor or at any bakery in Russia, however none of those can beat pirozhki that Russian grandmas make.
10. Salted Herring
Although the tradition of soaking herring in water with salt, sugar and spices is also common in Denmark, Holland, Swedenand Germany, salted herring is Russia’s number one starter. Usually served with rye-bread and sliced onion, it makes a great companion to vodka.
You can also try it in a layered salad called “dressed herring” or “herring under a fur coat”, which also contains diced boiled potatoes, beets, carrots, eggs, fresh onions and mayonnaise, of course .
11. Shashlik /Shashlyik
If semi-raw marinated fish doesn’t suit your tastes, these roasted meats and fish on skewers are hard not to like. As the name suggests, this dish is a form of shish kebab, although the Russian version is served with chunkier portions of lamb, beef, chicken or salmon, and served with an unleavened bread, Russian pickles and a sometimes spicy tomato sauce.
If your travels take you to Moscow’s Izmailovsky flea market (and it’s certainly a top 10 thing to see), you’ll find a range of market stalls serving shashlik sticks right off the grill .
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12. Mushroom julienne
With a similar taste to stroganoff, but without meat, this creamy mushroom dish is found on almost every menu as a hot appetizer. Combining some of Russia’s ubiquitous ingredients and a hint of French obsession, it’s made with thinly sliced mushrooms, cheese, sour cream and cream and broiled/grilled for a crusty top, served in a dainty metal dish or bread crust. While this rich, small-serving dish may not impress foreigners with its basic ingredients, it’s a special dish in Russian cuisine. Indeed, mushrooms in any form are a must-try in Russia, where mushroom hunting could almost be considered a national pastime. When you’re fully creamed-out, try an assortment of pickled mushrooms instead .
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