Rima Kallingal and Aashiq Abu are in Russia. And its insta streams are teeming with food, architecture, and the country’s scenic spots. “You have to love a country that takes its food seriously. The inner joke is that chicken is vegetarian for Russians. And then you realize it’s not really a joke, ”she captioned one of her photos where Aashiq stared at half a plate of pizza. Under his photos there are usually some interesting comments from his fans. In many countries like Europe, Russia, France, Georgia, Armenia and Germany, chicken broth is used to balance the flavor of vegetarian dishes. Purely vegetarian dishes can only be expected in vegan restaurants.
Next time you’re in Russia, we’ve got a list of 11 of their traditional dishes that you should try.
Russia might not be the first to come to mind when thinking of a foodie destination, but the country is full of delicious traditional foods to try. Visitors to Russia are often surprised by the variety and flavors of Russian cuisine, which is influenced by Russia’s ties to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The most classic Russian recipes are made from vegetables and wheat, such as soups, porridge and stuffed dough. Russian cuisine has also grown considerably with recipes borrowed from neighboring countries. For example, nomadic Tatars brought shish kebab, lamb dishes and bone broth to Russia. From Asia came various teas, sunflower seed halva and dumplings. French sauces and desserts gradually entered the cuisine of the nobility.
Blinis : Blini is a wheat pancake made from yeast dough, giving them a light, chewy texture and distinctive flavor and is rolled with a variety of fillings: jam, cheese, sour cream, caviar, onions or even chocolate syrup. It’s the Russian equivalent of a pancake. In any restaurant where you are unsure of other dishes, blinis are always a safe bet. Blinis are such an important part of Russian cuisine that a festival called Maslenitsa celebrates the beginning of spring with them.
Pelmeni: Considered the country’s national dish, it’s impossible to imagine modern Russian cuisine without such a traditional dish as pelmeni, or dumplings. Many people debate the origins of this dish because different countries around the world have their own adaptations. These are the Uzbek manti, Georgian khinkali, and Jewish kreplah, or Chinese xiaolongbao. Many believe the recipe came to Russia from China via Siberia and the Urals in the 15th century. In many families, it is still a family tradition to carve dumplings together. These hot little bites are made of unleavened dough, folded around a stuffing of minced meat (usually pork lamb, chicken or beef) and flavored with onion, garlic, pepper and spices. They are then served in a large bowl with sour cream.
Beef Stroganoff (Beef with Sour Cream Sauce): This famous Russian cuisine is one of the best-known contributions to family dinner tables across the Western world – a classic comfort food dish of sliced beef tenderloin, onions and mushrooms, sautéed in a wine sauce white and sour cream. There are countless variations of the recipe, some requiring the addition of tomato paste, mustard or paprika. This famous Russian dish has a fascinating history. Under the Czars, the Russian upper class was super-rich. They particularly liked Paris, often kept apartments there and communicated in French at home and at social gatherings. In 1891, a French chef who worked for a wealthy St. Petersburg family created the dish for a cooking competition. He prepared sautéed pieces of beef served in a delicious smetana (sour cream) sauce. Luxurious yet easy-to-prepare Beef Stroganoff has become a signature dish with countless hostesses and a main course at upscale restaurants.
Syrniki: This is another version of pancakes, but they are made from cottage cheese (cottage cheese), eggs and flour. The simplicity and delicious taste of this recipe will make syrniki one of your favorite breakfast recipes. Crispy and golden on the outside and warm and creamy on the inside, syrniki are perfect to accompany sour cream, jam, honey or fresh berries.
Medovik: Russian cuisine is not just meat! Desserts also hold a special place in Russian culinary culture. One particularly decadent pastry found throughout Russia is Medovik (honey cake). This sweet, sticky, crumbly and creamy cake is awesome and tastes divine, made up of several layers (supposedly 15 is the ideal number) of spicy honey ginger cinnamon dough, with sweet sour cream and condensed milk sandwiched in between. .
Borscht: Borscht is a red beetroot soup originally from Ukraine and quickly adopted as a Russian specialty. This soup contains dozens of ingredients and can take up to 3 hours to prepare. It’s full of sautéed meat and 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 and a special garlic bread called pampushka. For the all-Russian experience, it’s paired with a Borodiksy Russian black sourdough bread, Salo frozen fat shavings, a clove of fresh garlic, and a shot of frozen vodka.
Shashlik: Shashlik is a Russian version of a kebab, and like any kebab, it consists of cubes of meat and grilled vegetables on skewers. This dish originates from the hill tribes of the Caucasus and became popular after the conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century. These days almost every family has their own secret shashlik recipe that is closely watched. The key to success, however, lies in the marinade.
Kvass: First fermented over a thousand years ago, kvass is considered one of the most refreshing soft drinks in Russia. Before the Russian Revolution of 1917, locals could not live a day without drinking kvass. Even Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, a famous Russian poet, said of the Russians: “They needed kvass, as they needed air”. The main ingredient in kvass is rye, which makes the leaven of the drink. If you are ever invited to a Russian lunch or dinner, the children will most likely be offered kvass and you will be asked to taste okroshka, which is made with kvass. Visit a supermarket in Russia and you will see so many flavors of kvass. Apple, white and black are just a few of the many variations of this beloved Russian drink. However, if you want to taste the traditional drink, go for black kvass. Although it has a very low alcohol content, it is not considered an alcoholic drink. It is made from black or regular rye bread or dough.
Varenia: The landscape of Russia is full of rich forests, rivers and mountain ranges. This geography makes some parts of the country perfect for fruits and berries. Respectively, the Russians have learned for centuries to harvest efficiently. This allowed them to store enough food during the harsh winters. When Russians go to pick fruit and berries (usually late May-early June), they always come back with huge sacks of juicy fruits and berries. With so much fruit, the Russians found a very convenient way to eat them – Varenie! Varenie is essentially a Russian jam. It has been consumed for centuries and takes advantage of the diversity of fruits and berries. Large pots are filled with berries and tons of sugar, which are then cooked and pickled. Strawberries, cranberries, currants, apples… whatever you want! Varenie is made from all of these ingredients. It is perfect all year round and complements many Russian breads and other Russian staples.
Okroshka: Soups are the most popular breakfast meals across the country and it’s another Russian favorite. Okroshka is a cold soup native to the Volga region. It is a mixture of raw vegetables, boiled potatoes, eggs and a cooked meat like beef, veal, sausage or ham with kvass, which is a soft drink made from black bread or of fermented rye.
Kasha: Russians believe that if you want your day to be successful, you should start it with a bowl of kasha for breakfast. Kasha is rich in fiber, potassium and protein. Try buckwheat porridge. It is normally boiled in water or milk and can be a stand-alone dish (often served with butter, sugar, or condensed milk), and can also be used as a side dish to eat in the afternoon. Buckwheat porridge is very healthy and is also one of the main dishes during the Orthodox fast. Kasha comes in many variations. Oats, millet, rye, wheat, barley, and buckwheat are all commonly used grains, and some locals also like to experiment with bulgur. In Russia, children are encouraged to eat kasha from an early age, so that they grow tall and strong.