Cuisine plays a great role in every nation’s culture. But for Ukrainians food is more important than for many other nationalities. Through history Ukrainians have always liked to eat. Nowadays following the European influence some people (especially the younger generation) became vegetarian and started diets or because of a lack of time only eat simple food.
But no matter who you are, if you visit your grandmother you can be sure that she will spend two full days before your visit cooking delicious traditional dishes. It takes time and requires some skills, but for those who don’t have a grandmother in Ukraine, yet are curious about Ukrainian cuisine and would like to try to cook something themselves, here are some dishes and recipes that everybody may try to cook at home.
Borshch is a beetroot soup where the recipe can vary from region to region. The main ingredient – beetroot – gives it its red-purple colour. It is very filling so consider whether or not you will need a main course after it.
- 4 qt. water
- 14 oz. beef or chicken stock
- 1 small head of cabbage
- 4 potatoes
- 1 large carrot
- 1 med. beet root
- 1 med. onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3-5 cloves garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- sour cream
How to cook:
- Boil the stock for at least 1.5 hours, after this time put half of a carrot and half of the onion into the stock, leave for 10 more minutes, then take the meat out, put on a plate and then separate the meat from the bone.
- Peel the raw beetroot, cut it in thin strips and stew for half an hour.
- Add cubed potatoes in to the boiling broth. Wait for about 5 minutes then add the stewed beetroot when the broth begins to boil again. Add the bay leaf.
- Cut the carrot the same way as the beetroot, fry it until it becomes slightly golden and add it in to the broth.
- Slice the onion, fry on both sides and add tomato paste. Mix everything and fry for some more time. You can add some sugar (depending on the taste)
- Shred the cabbage finely and add (not much) it into the borsch when the potato is almost cooked.
- Cover the saucepan and boil the borshch for 5 minutes. Add fried onion with garlic and seasonings. Mix everything.
- Cover the borsch and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Take the borsch off the stove and leave it uncovered.
- Before serving add cut parsley and sour cream to each portion separately.
Varenyky in a way is a Ukrainian version of dumplings. It has a variety of fillings but the most popular are with cottage cheese, potatoes and sauerkraut.
- 3 cups of flour
- 2 egg yollks
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- salt to taste
Add the egg yolks and the oil into the flour. Next pour in the water and knead until it becomes smooth. Add butter and salt and kneed for several more minutes, then form a ball. Take a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a very thin sheet. Take a glass or a round cookie cutter and cut out circles in the dough you prepared.
For the potato filling prepare the potato puree and mix it with chopped and previously fried onion, add salt and pepper to your taste.
For the cottage cheese filling add salt if you want your varenyky to be salty, or sugar if you want them to be sweet into the cottage cheese and mix it.
Place a tsp of the filling you choose in the middle of each circle of dough. Fold the dough over the filling to form a semi-circle, place each semi-circle into a boiling salted water for about 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream or butter.
Kutya is a traditional Christmas dessert. Ukrainians believe that it is necessary to eat Kutya on Christmas eve in order to be happy in the next year. It is very easy to cook and it is really tasty.
- 1/2 cups wheat berries
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1 cup of cleaned poppy seed
- chopped walnuts or almonds
- chopped dried apricots
Soak wheat berries overnight in warm water. The following day, drain the wheat berries, add 4½ cups of milk and boil over a high heat. When the milk starts to boil, reduce the heat to low. Cover it with a lid and leave for 3½ – 4 hours. Mix honey with the milk that is left, add sugar and hot water, add it to the tender wheat berries. Then bake the almonds for several minutes at 350˚F until they are golden, add them with the dry apricots and raisins to the kutya and mix properly. place IT in a casserole dish and then bake your kutya for 20 min uncovered at 325˚F. Leave it to soak for added taste, you can serve it both hot or cold.
These three dishes may give you an insight in to the Ukrainian cuisine. You can find more recipes on the internet, there are a lot of varieties and options. But unfortunately none of them will be as good as the recipe of our grandmothers.
We are getting hungry, how about you?