As a country with a history of both decadence and strife, it is
safe to say that Russian cuisine is equally as colorful.
Delicately balancing sweet and sour flavors, traditional Russian
recipes were inspired by the peasant food from the rural areas for
generations. During Catherine the Great's reign, more refined
European flavors and cooking techniques made their way into the
great nation, especially for the aristocracy.
Traditional Russian meals included a wide variety of soups and
stews created from fish, seasonal meats and vegetables. With crops
that included rye, wheat, barley and millet, bread was a crucial
staple for the Russian people. In the 1600's, Russian black bread
was considered a European delicacy.
When it comes to Russian cuisine, enjoy a full meal, or offer
your guests a variety of zakuski. The Russian version of Spanish
tapas, these would include items such as smoked sausages,
hard-boiled eggs with caviar, black bread, cold fish, pickled
vegetables and blinchiki. Here are some more traditional Russian
Blini and Blinchiki
While some argue that these two are in fact the same, there are
others who explain that blini are made with yeast, while blinkchiki
are yeast-free. Regardless, these thin crepes are extremely popular
in Russia and used in both sweet and savory dishes. Made with wheat
most commonly, they are often covered with sour cream and caviar,
or jam. Blinchiki are said to be wrapped with fillings such as the
sweet farmer's cheese (tvorog) or wild mushrooms.
Pelmeni and Pirozhki
Pelmeni are small Siberian dumplings similar to Chinese
potstickers or Polish pierogi and called the national Siberian dish
because they could be stored outside safely for months on end. They
are smaller than their cousins. Filled with minced pork and
flavored with garlic, onions, salt and pepper, pelmeni dumplings
are cooked in broth and occasionally fried afterwards. They are
served with sour cream, horseradish, mustard or vinegar. Pirozhki
are small buns stuffed with a variety of fillings and are baked or
fried. All the ingredients inside pirozhki are cooked in advance.
In savory pirozhki, hard-boiled eggs are usually present, with
onions and fish, meat, or mashed potatoes and sour cream.
Herbs and Vegetables
Some of the more popular vegetables and herbs used in Russian
cuisine include cabbage, beets, cucumbers, wild mushrooms, dill,
horseradish, garlic, parsley, mustard and celery root. On a whole,
pickling is popular in Russia as it helps to preserve foods.
Meat Dishes: Traditionally, meat can come in a variety of forms
-- boiled in a stew or soup, jellied and spiced with vegetables or
baked whole or in part and served with porridge and root
vegetables. These, in turn come with pickled vegetables with the
traditional smetana (melted butter) used in lieu of gravy. As well,
many Russians enjoy the street vendor favorite shashlyk, a skewered
kebab of meat and onions.
While the classic borscht is what most people commonly think of
when mentioning the words "Russian" and "soup" together, there is a
massive variety of options to explore, all with their own unique
characteristics. These categories break down into cold soups with a
kvas base (a drink made from rye bread); water and vegetable based
soups; cabbage soups; noodle soups; meat-based sour soups; fish
soups; and grain and vegetable soups. Pickled vegetables and brine
play a crucial role in some of the "sour" soups. Other unique
ingredients include boiled eggs, oily fish, beetroot, horseradish,
apples, rutabaga, capers and olives.
Finally, end your meal with some sweet blini, apple pirozhki or
one of the two most popular drinks in Russia: strong hot tea, with
extra hot water heating in the Samovar or an ice-cold glass of