Russian cuisine is one of the most authentic in the world. Both the severity of the climate and the wealth of folk traditions left their mark on it. This kitchen was not born under the vaults of palaces, but in the homes of ordinary, poor people who needed to feed a large family. That is why traditional Russian dishes are usually hearty and prepared from the cheapest and most affordable ingredients. But, despite this, the cuisine of this country cannot be called poor and monotonous: its taste combinations can surprise even the most demanding gourmet.
Four “pillars” of Russian cuisine
Vegetables. The abundance of vegetables is one of the distinguishing features of Russian cuisine. They were salted and stored for future use to provide themselves with vitamins for the long winter. Preference was always given to cheap, unpretentious in cultivation and varieties capable of storing for a long time – onions, beets, cabbage, carrots, turnips, radishes. Introduced by Emperor Peter I at the beginning of the 18th century, the Russians also fell in love. On the basis of vegetables, hearty rich soups, savory snacks are created, vegetables are abundantly added to meat and poultry dishes.
Fish. The rivers and lakes of Russia have always been very rich in fish (perch, roach, pike, ruff, sturgeon); therefore, it has always occupied the most important place in the diet. In addition, fishing did not stop even in winter (the famous “ice fishing”), so nutritious and hearty dishes from it could appear on the table all year round. As a rule, these are soups, varieties of fried and stewed dishes, as well as pastries with fish.
Bakery products. “Bread is the head of everything,” they used to say in Russia since ancient times. Without it, not a single meal is in the house of the rich, in the house of the poor. There are many varieties of bread, very different from each other in taste. However, not only bread was baked in Russia: Russian cuisine is full of delicious recipes for baked and fried pastry dishes. After all, what could be more satisfying and tastier in the long cold winter? Baking has always been a hallmark of the Russian festive feast and accompanied many religious and ceremonial holidays. Pancakes and pancakes fried in a pan, famous pies with dozens of different fillings – each housewife always has her own “signature” recipe.
Cereals. Not only bread was made from grain in Russia. Often cereals were preferred to process and directly eat. Hot and satisfying cereals of Russian cuisine are made from dozens of varieties of cereals (barley, wheat, buckwheat, pearl barley, semolina), and each of them has its own unique taste. And even more, tasty and varied cereals become with various additives: berries, mushrooms or stews, chicken, fried onions.
Traditional Russian dishes
Pancakes. Thin fried flat cakes from simple dough made from flour, eggs, and milk are one of the dishes most beloved by the Russian people. Slightly sweet or lean, ruddy and fried, hot and plentifully oiled, they are an indispensable attribute of any holiday. A variety of additives are sure to be served for pancakes – from nutritious (meat, salted fish, caviar) to sweet (berries, honey, jam), so they can be either a main dish or a dessert. In late-mid-February or early March, Maslenitsa is celebrated in Russia – a holiday when pancakes are baked in every home. To make pancakes as thin, even and lace as possible is a matter of honor for every Russian mistress.
Hash browns are another dish of dough, which is fried in a pan. Fritters are similar to pancakes, but are thicker and have a porous structure. Served with sour cream – a sour cream sauce.
Borscht. The soup based on beets and cabbage with juicy slices of vegetables, which has a beautiful burgundy color and a sweetish-piquant vegetable taste. Borsch is a kind of “designer soup”, allowing for many variations: it can be hearty, with pieces of meat, or very light, only with vegetables. Depending on the region of Russia, tomatoes are added to the borsch, sometimes mushrooms or even apples.
Cabbage soup. Light transparent boiled cabbage soup with slices of vegetables. This is a very light and healthy dish for all seasons. In spring, they are made from young cabbage, and the taste of this soup is fresh and tender. In winter, they cook the so-called “sour cabbage soup”, based on pickled sour cabbage. Sour cabbage soup has a very bright and pleasant sour taste. However, the smell of cabbage (due to cabbage) cannot be called pleasant – but real gourmets simply do not pay attention to it.
Cakes or pies – baked pastry with various fillings. It is difficult to find a more diverse dish of Russian cuisine! The filling of pies can be meat, chicken, fish or mushrooms, a boiled egg, vegetables, fruits, berries or jam. The contrast of rosy dough and the tender hot filling inside is very tasty. Pies are a very popular snack “on the run”; they are often taken along with them on a long journey. And their cooking at home turns into a real entertainment for the whole family, because even a child can sculpt pies from the dough. The most pleasant and unusual taste is for pies with mushrooms (or potatoes and mushrooms), apples and cherries.
Ear – a transparent soup of fresh fish with potatoes and carrots. The ear is cooked from a wide variety of varieties of fish, usually white. The ear from the sterlet is considered to be delicious, but from small varieties of river fish, it is also very tasty (it is very loved by the people of the ear from the ruffs). Instead of bread, a traditional fish pie called a “pie” is often served to the ear.