There have been many dishes from Russia made popular over the years in other cultures and they all have a unique Russian feel. As it was a part of the Soviet Union there are a lot of different influential areas but the basic pallet and ingredients are the same. The food is categorized with a lot of hearty seasonal soups and stews made with whatever is readily available.
This practice stems from the days of severe poverty where you had to be very creative to have a good meal. Below are some of the most popular dishes.
Borcht is a that can be served hot or cold depending on the location and ingredients. It originally came from the Ukraine but is popular all around Europe, including Russia. There are a few different bases for the dish depending on location. Some use beetroot for the base ingredient, which is more popular, but others will use tomato. It is has a thicker texture but is still considered a soup. There is a variety of secondary ingredients that cultures use but it almost always starts with potato and cabbage. After this ingredients can vary from fish and beef for protein and mushrooms, onions, peppers, beets, and different spices depending on the area.
Cold borscht is a less familiar but very has similar ingredients. The main difference here is it is served cold with something like yogurt or sour cream mixed in.
Kissel is a well know traditional dessert dish that is very popular among residence of Russia. It consists of a fruit base which normal starts with the sweetened juice. As soups and stews are so popular this fits right in as it is normally a thick mixture of sugar, juices, fruits, and berries. There are sometimes things such as wine and dried fruits and berries added as well. To the juice and sugar combination to thicken it is normal to add either cornstarch, potato starch, or arrowroot. Kissel is also another dish that tastes delicious whether it is served hot or cold.
Caviar is well know across the world as the food that defines wealth and great taste. As most know, caviar is made from the eggs of different fish. Price normally depends on the rarity of the fish used to make the dish. If you want traditional caviar it is supposed to be made from the eggs of a sturgeon caught in either the Black or Caspian Sea. It has evolved over time and is now made from various types of sturgeon from all over the world. It is a very salty dish the requires a certain pallet type.
This sweet dish originates from 17th century Russia which can be roughly translated to loaf of pie. That is exactly what it is when you think about it. It is a square or loaf of fruit, egg whites, and sugar that have been pressed together to form a paste that hardened into a solid form and baked in the oven. There are many different fruits used to this delicacy but traditional Pastila are made from apples or berries. This has been a popular side dish to serve with tea or to have as a mid meal dessert.
This dish has is a very interesting combination of ingredients and is not for the faint of heart. This “herring under a fur coat” is actually a type of main dish salad. It starts with salted herring on the bottom and this is covered in a mixture of root vegetables. After the carrots and potatoes you add chopped onions and a type of mayonnaise. The final layer of the salad contains grilled purple beet root and another layer of mayonnaise. Dressed herring is a meal normally eaten during holidays and in some occasions contains apple for sweetness.
These little meat filled pastas may be more familiar when called a dumpling. Just like their Asian relatives these can consist of a large variety of fillings. These fillings can contain meat or be completely vegetarian as it is such a versatile vessel that stands up to a lot of ingredients and cooking methods. Pelmeni is popular in many areas of eastern and northern Europe including Poland and Siberia. Because of immigration these delicious ear breads are getting popular in North America as it gets more culturally diverse. The pelmeni can be cooked either by pan frying, oven baking, or deep fried depending on where you are.
We have another bite sized offering in the Pirozhki or sometimes known as the little pirogi. As with the last entry these are very versatile and change filling depending on culture and region. Differing from pelmeni the pirozhki is more in the range of a bread than a pasta. The look of this food will change drastically as you look around the world. You can find them in Eastern and Central Asia, as well as countries such as Finland. The food is very popular in many areas as a street dish because of its size and portability.
Alenka is a brand of chocolate that has its roots in Russian history. The most popular of their chocolates is the milk chocolate. It is one of the highest earning chocolate brands in all of Russia and is recognized everywhere. A bug part of recognition comes from the very unique packaging they have used since the 1990s. There is quite a story behind how the packaging with the young girl’s face came to be but that is a completely different topic. You can not go to any convenience store in Russia without seeing this face smiling back at you.
These are a traditional Russian breakfast dish that are a different form of pancakes. There are hundreds of different variations of the oladyi and it is sometimes called blini and oladi depending on who you are talking to. They can also range quite a bit in size and thickness and it is hard to pinpoint what the traditional size was.
Some say they were brought from France and originally came from the very thin French crepe. Regardless of the origins they are a staple of any Saturday morning breakfast in a lot of Russian homes.
This traditional Russian salad that is popular in many places around the world but still mostly eaten in its home country. If you were anywhere in North America you would hear this called a Russian Salad and the derivative, very popular, Russian Dressing. The main version of the salad that is served in Russia consists of a boiled mixture of potatoes, protein (beef or chicken), eggs, carrots, peas and other vegetables. The dressing used in this salad has a mayonnaise base with things such as white/red wine vinegar and a form of vegetable oil. The recipe for the dressing can then be interpretative to suit the person making it.