Russia is the world’s largest nation bordering many European and Asian countries. It also stretches across four major bodies of water which are: The White Sea in the north, the Black Sea in the south, the Baltic Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the East.
In between this great expanse are many rivers, forests and lakes that have provided fresh game, wild spices and many root vegetables and wild fruits. However, because Russia sits so far north, its climate can be harsh, so most of the traditional dishes are made up of meats, grains and root vegetables that can survive in the climate. This means that hearty soups, both hot and cold, as well as porridge and meat sandwiches and pies are popular among all.
Russian Cuisine Facts and History
Russian cuisine dates back as far as the 9th century where bread and grain-based meals were popular. Rye pies, pancakes, pastries stuffed with meat, grains and vegetables were common.
Honey and berries were used to create syrups that acted like condiments, and milk was either used for making sour cream and cheese or made into butter. The fields were filled with grains like rye, oat, wheat and barley which were then made into porridges of different kinds. Hot dishes like fish soup were also popular but didn’t show up until the 17th century, when lemons and olives were used to create brines for cold and hot soups.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, potatoes and tomatoes were brought in and used for side dishes. Food mixes were introduced during this time, like garnishes and salads. It was during the 18th century that dishes switched from being served all at once, to being served in turn with one another. This is why there are now four main courses associated with Russian dinner. Among the many dishes that are served, meat, mushroom, fish and sour vegetable soups and salads are among the most popular.
Russian Cuisine Menu
Breakfast is usually served around 7-8:00am and may consist of any of the following:
• Kasha (porridge made from different grains),
• Butterbrots (single slice sandwich with butter or ham),
• Eggs (boiled, fried or omelets),
• Tvorog (similar to cottage cheese),
• Toast with cheese,
• Bliny (thin pancakes),
• Sirniki (small blinis made with cottage cheese),
• Kolbasa (sandwich with meat),
Lunch will occur anytime between 1-3:00pm and may consist of any of the following:
• Hot soup/cold soups,
• Meat and potatoes,
• Pasta (as a second course),
• Kornpot (non-alcoholic boiled fruit in water),
• Cake/chocolates (optional),
• Okroshka (cold soup),
• Shchi (cabbage soup with potatoes, carrots, onions and chicken),
• Solyanka (meat and vegetable soup),
• Fish soup.
• Pastries and dumplings (Pelmeni or Blini),
• Salat Olivier (salad),
• Piroghi/Pirozhki (small and large pies stuffed with fish, cheese, jam, cabbage, mushrooms, chopped eggs, or meat),
• Kulebyaka (salmon or sturgeon pie filled with fish of choice, vegetables and rice),
• Sorrel soup (sorrel leaves, carrots, potatoes, parley and eggs).
Dinner is usually served between 7-8:00 pm and may consist of the following:
• Shashlyk (Russian kebabs with any combination of meat and vegetables),
• Cold/Hot soups,
• Beef stroganoff (beef with mushrooms/tomatoes, served with rice, noodles or potatoes in a creamy sauce),
• Borshcht (beet soup with vegetables and meat layers served with sour cream),
• Selodka (herring with vinegar and oil dressing),
• Schcyee (cabbage soup),
• Solyanka (tomato based chowder),
• Roast meat with potatoes and root vegetables,
• Golubtsy (cabbage burrito filled with meatballs and tomato sauce),
• Chicken tabaka (butterflied chicken that is pan-fried and pounded out),
• Lapsha (noodle soup),
• Rassolnik (salty-sour cucumber based soup that is served hot),
• Kotlety (minced cutlets or meatballs made from pork, beef and sometimes chicken).
• Pelmeny (minced meat covered in pastry),
• Zharkoye (steamed meat with vegetables),
Now Russian dinners are usually served with four courses. The first course often being soup along with an appetizer. Then you will have the main course which will often feature meat and vegetables. The final course is eaten around 9-10:00pm and often features tea and cakes.
Traditional snacks may consist of any of the following:
• Piroghi (small pies stuffed with meat, vegetables and cheese),
• Pryaniki (sweet bread/cookie),
• Chai Po-Russki (tea),
• Semechki (toasted sunflower seeds)
• Morozhenoe (ice cream),
• Paskha (sweetened cheese dessert),
• Kissel (stewed fruit thickened with cornstarch with milk poured over it),
• Klyukva S Sakharom (frosted cranberries),
• Sharlotka (apple cake),
• Varenye (similar to jam but more of a syrup used as a dessert or a condiment).
a drink menu may consist of any of the following:
• Kvass (fermented rye bread drink – low alcohol content),
• Medovukha (low-alcohol fermented honey drink),
• Mors (sweetened berry drink),
• Mineral water,
• Chai (hot sweetened tea),
• Sbiten (winter beverage non-alcoholic)
• Wine (not extremely popular).
• Roast goose,
• Pagach (Lenten bread),
• Kutya (porridge),
• Bobal’ki (tiny biscuits served with honey or poppy seeds),
• Fresh fruit and nuts like figs, oranges, dates, and apricots,
• Kidney beans served with shredded potatoes,
• Holodets (meat jelly),
• Kozulya (cookie in the shape of a deer, goat or sheep),
• Sochivo (porridge made with poppy seeds, walnuts, honey, peas, lentils and other grains).
• Paskha (sweetened cheese dessert made with butter, almonds and currants)
• Roast pork,
• Easter bread (Kulich),
• Filled pies (meat and vegetables),
• Vinegret (beet vinaigrette salad),
• Beef stroganoff,
• Holodets (meat jelly),
• Chicken Kiev.
Most Used Ingredients:
Meat/Fish: beef, pork, chicken, goose, river fish, bologna.
Vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, bell peppers, eggplants, potatoes, beets, carrots, radishes, dill pickles, frozen peas, lettuce leaves, currants, beets, other root vegetables, green pepper, olives, pickles and turnips.
Fruits: apples, pears, cherries, plums, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, figs, dates, blueberries, cranberries, raisins and other berries.
Other: dill, parsley, garlic, onion, leeks, horseradish, mustard, eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, sunflower oil, mushrooms, wheat flour, rye flour, yeast, baking soda, rice, noodles, other grains, cheese, eggs, mayonnaise, jam, milk, sugar, vanilla, buckwheat flour, salt, vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, butter, cream cheese, almonds, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, vinegar, tomato paste, pepper, lemon juice, sunflower seeds, olive oil, cream, honey, apple sauce,
Travelling Foodies: What to Eat When You Travel to Russia
If you are planning on travelling to Russia or any place that has traditional Russian cuisine, then there are a few dishes that you have to try out. Now since most of Russian food is either soups, or stuffed dishes, it’s best to try the ones that have ingredients that you are going to like.
For instance, you’re going to come across a lot of piroghi which are small stuffed pies (there are large versions as well), that will have mushrooms, fruits, meats or even fish in them. Make sure you choose one with ingredients that you think you’re going to like.
Other dishes that are a must are: Kasha (grain porridge), Bliny (think pancakes topped with sour cream, jam, honey or even fish), Pelmeni (dumplings), Kvass (fermented rye drink known as Russian Coco-Cola), and Salad Olivier which is served during the winter season and contains boiled potatoes, peas, meat, onions, eggs, carrots and pickled cucumbers. Honorable mentions are the Russian gingerbread (Pryaniki), and the home-made jams like Varenye.