Famous Food in Ukraine
Ukrainian dishes often use several ingredients & are known for their variety and high taste qualities. Ukrainian cuisine includes hundreds of recipes.
Here are some of the most delicious Ukrainian food you should try if you visit Ukraine.
Appetizer (Mezze) & Main Courses
Borscht is the most famous Ukrainian dish.
This simple soup is made with beetroot as the main ingredient and fermented beetroot juice, along with meat, pork or bone stock, sautéed vegetables as cabbage, potatoes, onions, carrot, tomatoes, and beans.
There are many versions - the broth can even be fish or vegetable-based, and the choice of vegetables varies from region to region.
The beetroot and the fermented beetroot juice give the dish a unique red color and provide sweet and sour flavors.
There is also a summer version of borscht, called “green” for its distinctive color. In this case, the broth is thickened with fresh sorrel, potatoes, carrots, and boiled eggs.
Borscht is usually served with smetana (sour cream) and pampushky (small savory yeast-raised buns with garlic on top).
Pampushki is small Ukrainian yeasted buns, traditionally served with Ukrainian borscht, but can also be a small snack.
They can be prepared in sweet or savory versions.
The dough usually consists of milk, flour, eggs, sugar, butter, yeast, oil, and salt, and it is then shaped into small balls, while the savory ones have no filling, but are traditionally flavored with garlic sauce and served alongside borscht. After the pastry is baked, the pampushka are covered with olive oil, parsley, and garlic sauce.
The sweet version is often stuffed with ingredients such as fruit jam, berries, fresh fruit, or cottage cheese.
The classic paska shape is cylindrical, with creamy frosting and sprinkles on top. Paska is a special dish prepared in Ukraine for Easter. This sweet bread is usually taken to church to be blessed on Easter morning.
It is made with yeast, milk, eggs, butter, and sugar. It is often enriched with citrus juice or zest, vanilla, rum, ginger, and occasionally saffron.
Some varieties of paska also might include raisins, candied fruit, or maraschino cherries. Cheese paska is made from cottage cheese, and its shape imitates the Tomb of Jesus.
According to tradition, when working the dough, the cook should whisper positive thoughts to achieve the most delicious result.
Varenyky are popular Ukrainian dumplings filled with a variety of ingredients such as vegetables, meat, potatoes, cabbage, cheese, sauerkraut, eggs, and mushrooms.
These stuffed dumplings are usually shaped into squares or half-moons, boiled or steamed, then drizzled with oil or melted butter and served with sour cream.
There is another version of varenyky that is stuffed with fruits like blueberries, cherries, apples, and strawberries, but they are more a seasonal dish and in winter quite rare.
Both types of salty and sweet varenyky are served with sour cream as the main topping.
It is widely popular to add shkvarky (fried salo) and caramelized onion on top of varenyky with potato.
Olivier Potato Salad
The salads in Ukraine have traditionally been prepared from simple ingredients that are always at hand.
The Olivier potato salad is a popular salad with a greater number of ingredients is the king of any Ukrainian feast (such as a New Year party, wedding, or birthday).
The salad includes five key elements: meat (usually boiled sausages), eggs, potatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise.
Eggs and potatoes are boiled then cut into cubes. Meat and pickles are cut into cubes as well and then mixed in with mayonnaise.
The dish can be stored in the fridge or served immediately.
Along with the Olivier salad, the holodets are served at all celebrations.
The name of the dish derives from the Ukrainian word cold, “holodnyii.”
Holodets are made of meat broth, frozen to a jelly-like state, with pieces of meat inside. usually made of pork, fish, or chicken, and vegetables as onions, garlic, carrot, bay leaves, and black pepper are added to the meat broth and boiled.
The pork leg boiled for 6-7 hours (it’s a cold broth jellied due to the bones and cartilage), meat is then cut, added back to the mixture, and the holodets are put in the fridge to freeze.
Aspics are a good way to prevent meat spoilage since the gelatin protects the meat from air and bacteria.
Chicken Kiev is a simple dish prepare from the chicken fillet that is first flattened and wrapped around cold butter.
Then, the chicken is first coated with a mix of grated cheese, parsley, dill, mushrooms, and pepper, dipped in beaten egg yolk, and fried.
It is traditionally served as a main dish.
While in the classical version, the chicken bone is retained, nowadays, the boneless version is more popular.
Although the dish is very popular, no one knows where it came from or how it got its name, and there are numerous contradicting theories attributing its invention to Ukrainian, Russian, and French chefs.
Salo is a traditional Pork product it is made of fatback slices, the slices are rubbed with salt and spices, such as black pepper, paprika, thyme, garlic, dried dill, bay leaf, marjoram, cardamom, and cumin.
While usually the skin is retained, many Ukrainians prefer to eat salo without the skin.
The meat is then placed in a fridge for 3-4 days, It can be consumed raw or fried.
Salo is traditionally served with rye bread, borscht, and Ukrainian alcoholic drink horilka.
Okroshka is a refreshing soup that is mostly cooked during the summer period.
The ingredients vary it may be prepared with kvass or kefir, both of which are sour in taste.
The accompanying sausages, cucumbers, greens, carrots, and radishes should be chopped into large pieces to give it texture.
Pyrizky is baked buns stuffed with different fillings. There are two types of them, sweet and savory.
The sweet pyrizky are stuffed with seasonal fruits and berries or jams and poppy seed paste in winter. And the savory ones can be stuffed with meat, liver, cabbage, mushrooms, potatoes, and peas. The last one is topped with salty garlic paste.
Linyvi varenyky, or lazy dumplings, are a quick version of Ukrainian varenyky.
It is made of fresh cottage cheese is mixed with egg, sugar, vanilla powder, and flour. The dough is then cut into small slices, sprinkled with flour, and boiled for a couple of minutes.
Lazy dumplings can be served with sour cream, yogurt, honey, condensed milk, jam, or fresh berries.
Korovai is a traditional Bulgarian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Romanian bread, most often used at weddings, where it has a great symbolic meaning and has remained part of the wedding tradition.
Ukrainians bake this massive, lavishly decorated bread that is often made by seven married women from seven different places. Participation of widows in the bread-making process is forbidden since it is believed that a piece of their fate will be forwarded to the prospective couple. There are many superstitions and rituals connected to korovai – for example, if the bread cracks in the oven, the marriage will be doomed.
Solianka is a spicy soup made of different types of meat, including smoked ribs, pickles, and olives. The soup is served with sour cream and a slice of lemon.
Liver cake is ground liver with spices, flour, and fried into thin crepes. These are stacked on each other with homemade mayonnaise, garlic, and spices between the layers of liver crepes.
Holubtsi (golubtsi) is a dish made of boiled cabbage leaves filled with rice and meat (pork or beef) which is then stewed or baked in tomato sauce. When the dish is cooked the final time, the cabbage leaves become very soft.
It is served with sour cream or different varieties of sauces. There are similar varieties around the world, such as those in the Balkans. Although instead of cabbage they may use vine leaves.
The serving usually includes 2 to 3 pieces, as holubtsi are very filling.
Deruni (Potato Pancakes)
Deruni or potato pancakes are small pancakes. The potatoes are finely grated then added to eggs, onion, flour, salt, and pepper, then fried in deep oil or baked in the oven.
Deruni is a perfect dish for breakfast or dinner.
Most of the time, deruni are served with sour cream or baked yogurt. You can prepare a sour cream sauce with fried onions and mushrooms and pour it over the potato pancakes.
While the dish is not seasonal, it tastes the best when the temperature drops.
Nalesniki or nalysniki is the Ukrainian version of crêpes.
There are various fillings for these pancakes – from sweet cottage cheese or canned berries to fried mushrooms, meat, salted fish, caviar, and pâtés. After stuffing the crêpes, the nalesniki are fried with butter or baked in the oven with sugar, oil, or sour cream to taste.
The latter is considered the classic dessert of Ukrainian cuisine.
It is usually eaten at the end of the main course before the dessert.
Banush is part of traditional Ukrainian cuisine and famous dish in Ukraine , it is made of corn flour, fried pork fat, sour cream and cheese, and is traditionally cooked over a fire in order to get it well smoked. Mushrooms are also often added to the porridge, to make the taste even richer.
Decades ago, banush was a dish associated with poverty, but now this staple food is served in the best restaurants across the Carpathians.
The key ingredient of Syrniki is cottage cheese, which should be fresh and fragrant.
Cheese is mixed with egg, salt, sugar, and flour. Sometimes raisins and poppy seeds are added for grainier texture. Syrniki is then shaped in small circles, sprinkled with flour, and fried.
This dessert is often served with raspberry jam.
Kapusniak is one of the oldest and most significant dishes in Ukraine.
The key ingredient of kapusniak is sauerkraut (raw cabbage), which is thoroughly washed before cooking to give the soup its transparent color. It is cooked of meat or mushroom broth with potatoes, onions, carrots, and bay leaves. Traditionally kapusniak is served with sour cream and chopped parsley, & is prepared for weddings, funerals, and Christmas dinners.
Nowadays, Ukrainians enjoy this soup throughout the year.
Polenta is a dish with many names this porridge is commonly known as Mamalyga, while in the Carpathians, it is often called “Kulesha.”
Polenta is made with cornflour, water, butter, and salt. The corn flour is slowly boiled with butter and salt until thick.
Polenta is typically served with pork rind, bryndza cheese, mushrooms, or bacon.
Kapusnyak is a cabbage soup that is mostly cooked in winter. It is a light vegetable soup that can be served with sour cream.
Depending on the period (fasting or not) people cook it using mushroom, fish, or pork stock.
Kutia is a very special Christmas dish.
Kutia is made of boiled grains (usually wheat) mixed with honey, nuts, raisins, poppy seeds, and sometimes dried fruits. The holy evening starts with at least a spoon of kutia and then you can eat whatever you want.
This pudding is also popular in Russia, Poland, and Belarus.
Koliva is a traditional dish consisting of a combination of these ingredients: boiled wheat kernels, honey, sugar, sesame seeds, walnuts, raisins, anise, almonds, and pomegranate seeds.
In the Orthodox Christian religion, it is used as a ritual dish that is prepared for funerals, memorials, Lent, Slava, or Christmas, since it symbolizes death and resurrection. This unique porridge is traditionally served with powdered sugar on top, while it is customary to stick a candle in the center and light it at the beginning of the service, then extinguish it at the end.
Walnut Stuffed Prunes
Ukraine is the country of walnuts and plums so the ingredients are easy to find and the dessert is easy to make.
Walnut stuffed prunes are easily prepared and often served as a summer dessert.
First, the prunes are soaked in water for a couple of hours to make them soft. Then, they are stuffed with toasted walnuts.
The next step is adding the whipping cream with sugar. Finally, the prunes are mixed with heavy cream and sprinkled with crushed walnuts and chocolate.
Unlike Chicken Kyiv, Kiev cake is a sweet dish.
This dessert cake was first made in 1956, the key ingredients are: meringue, hazelnuts, buttercream, eggs, sugar, and cocoa.
The Kiev cake is known for its airy texture and colorful flower ornaments on top of multiple meringue layers.
Makovyi rulet is a poppy strudel that is a traditional Ukrainian dessert. Although people do different types of strudel, poppy strudel is the most common.
In Ukraine, you can see makovyi rulet on the menu quite often or at any supermarket in a bread section.
This drink is Popular throughout Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, ryazhenka is a dairy product that is made by fermenting milk after it has been baked for a long time at low temperatures.
The fermentation is achieved by the addition of sour cream, kefir, or buttermilk. Once prepared, ryazhenka has a thick and creamy texture, sweet flavor, and a milky yellowish color, which is why it is especially popular with children.
Kvass is an ancient, traditional Russian beverage made from buckwheat meal, wheat, rye, rye bread, or barley, but it can be made from any ingredient that can be fermented.
It has a relatively low alcoholic content (from 0,7-2.0 %) as a result of the natural fermentation process, but it is classified as a non-alcoholic beverage in Ukrain.
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