Probably the most famous of them all. The red beetroot soup that originated in the Ukraine and was quickly adopted as a Russian specialty as well. It’s simple yet delicious: start with a meet stock, add plenty of vegetables (beetroot, fresh shredded cabbage, onion and tomatoes), a splash of vinegar and a sprinkle of sugar. Add black pepper and salt to taste, serve with a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!
Otherwise known as...Russian salad. 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. This salad is ultimate comfort food and an absolute must on holidays like New Year’s Eve. The mayo-infused delicacy contains a few simple ingredients: boiled potatoes, carrots, eggs, peas, pickles, and boiled chicken or beef.
We did mention not all is cabbage in Russian cuisine...however the Shchi soup is one the best and must be mentioned here! The main ingredient? Yes, you guessed it! Cabbage – fresh or fermented, potatoes, carrots, onions, and possibly some type of meat such as chicken. The cabbage can also be replaced with sauerkraut, which is then called sour shchi.
Yet another soup on our list, but can be rather called a one pot dosh to keep you warm and full during wet and cold Autumn and Winter months (or, let’s face it, anytime...).
This hearty sweet and sour soup is usually made with a mix of fresh and cured beef, pork and sometimes chicken, which gives Solyanka its unusual taste. Other ingredients include pickled cucumbers, capers, olives, tomatoes, onions, parsley and dill. Solyanka is also a perfect hangover cure.
Blini (and caviar)
Russian pancakes must be the most popular dish among the foreigners. May look like French crepes but are definitely way superior to the French classic (objectivity is a serious issue for us!). The little fluffy blinis made with yeasted dough come with variety of sweet and savoury toppings. But the best must be the Blini with caviar!
Blini are so popular, there’s even a pancake week (Maslenitsa) held every year, when Russians celebrate their love for pancakes.
And back to soups again! This time it’s a Summer classic though: the cold soup, perfect served on any hot day. Made traditionally with kvass (the fermented rye bread). The classic soup is a mix of mostly raw vegetables (radish, cucumbers, spring onion), boiled potatoes, eggs, and a cooked meat such as beef, veal, sausages, or ham. Then served with dill and sour cream. Sometimes kvass can be replaced by either kefir or mineral water, and vegetarian okroshka is equally popular.
The home made pelmeni are little pieces of heaven...but they do take some time to prepare. These days, you can easily buy frozen pelmeni but they will never be as good. If you’ve got several hours free, you should give them a try (make a hundred and freeze some for later!). Pelmeni are usually stuffed with lamb, pork or beef or all the three combined, and it’s the thinness of the dough that makes them so special. Pelmeni can be served with or without broth, but always with sour cream.
Pirozhki, or close relatives of pelmeni, are 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 and also soon in your home (we hope!).
You may have tried them already in Ikea food court as the tradition of soaking herring in water with salt, sugar and spices is also common in Sweden (and a few other Scandinavian and Eastern European countries). Salted herring is Russia’s number one starter; served with rye-bread and sliced onion, it makes a great companion to vodka. You must also try it in a layered salad called “herring under a fur coat”, which also contains diced boiled potatoes, beetroots, carrots, eggs, fresh onions and mayonnaise, of course.
To finish off our Russian Food You Must Try list, we present you another extremely popular Russian dish; pigeons (that’s what Golubtsy mean). The meat and rice stuffed cabbage rolls may take some time to prepare but you will be rewarded with a fantastic dish! Golubtsy are becoming more popular around the world; a simple google search will bring up many recipes for you to try.
Our list of Russian food is far from finished, but we hope these ten will be a great food for thought (pardon the pun 😊)