Food in Ukraine

/ / Food in Ukraine

Ukrainian food culture started its formation more than 1000 years ago and was completely formed by the end of the 18th century. Food in Ukraine is something special and has quite lot of traditions and peculiarities. The very first professional Ukrainian cooks appeared in the XI century. They were monks in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra.

Vicinity to Belarus and Poland and well-developed trading relations with other countries had a significant impact on the traditional Ukrainian dishes. For example, buckwheat porridge is considered one of the famous Ukrainian dishes, though this cereal came to Ukraine from Asia 10 centuries ago. The Ukrainians also ground buckwheat into flour and baked pancakes, thick flippers, knishes (a type of bun with filling), grechaniki (a sort of cutlet) and Pampushki (garlic donuts).

Typical Ukrainian food is extremely appetizing, savory and…rather fatty. There is a historical explanation for this fact. In former times the Ukrainian people used oxen in the function of beasts of burden but did not eat their meat – it was too rough. At the same time the Ukrainians were involved into numerous wars with Caucasian invaders, which plundered the people, reft cattle and stole barn-door fowl but did not touch pigs because the Caucasian people have never eaten pork. That is how pork dishes and salo (cured slabs of fatback or pork belly) became Ukrainian national food.

Another peculiarity of national food of Ukraine is its utility. All the dishes were cooked in one furnace known as Ukrainian stove. Often breakfast, dinner and supper were cooked simultaneously and left in the stove where food remained hot and juicy for a very long time. This heat treatment was to preserve an outstanding flavor of dishes and their valuable nutrients. That is why boiling, stewing and baking are the main ways of cooking in Ukraine.

What do Ukrainians eat?

Traditional Ukrainian food culture puts a premium on bread, which is the symbol of wealth. The Ukrainians always met their guests with the bread and salt of hospitality because they believe that bread is the staff of life.

Vegetables and porridge formed the basis of the Ukrainian ration. The Ukrainian cuisine gave the world huge variety of vegetable dishes: borsch, holubtsi, pumpkin porridge, pickles of all sorts possible.

Ukrainian borsch (beetroot soup) is the famous Ukrainian food. Moreover, it is the identity of the Ukrainian nation. At the first sight borsch is a simply cooked meal. Actually, there are more than 20 ingredients in this dish and there are over a hundred recipes of this soup. Some data suggests that borsch came to Ukraine from the Rome Empire where it was a national dish too.

Holubtsi have been a popular Ukrainian food since the XIX cen. Their origination is a disputable issue. One version says that holubtsi came to Ukraine from Turkey. The receipt is quite simple: scalded with boiled water leafs of cabbage are stuffed with meat and stewed on a small fire.

Varenyky are traditional food in Ukraine. Nickolay Gogol, a genuine Ukrainian writer, praised varenyky in his great compositions. Many Slavic nations accredit the receipt of varenyky to themselves. Though, the Ukrainian ones are zestful: the dough for varenyky must be paunchy, tender and very white. Stuffing is extremely various: cheese, vegetables, meat, potato with mushrooms, and berries. There is an old omen connected with this dish: if a girl dreams at night about varenyky, she will be married soon.

Solyanka is a thick spicy soup which came to Ukraine in the XV century supposedly from Russia. Originally it was a dish for commoners who abused alcohol and often suffered from morning after. Solyanka was cooked to relieve hangover and recover strength. As the dish was so nutritious and healthy the upper classes appreciated it too. Solyanka is cooked on the basis of fat meat or fish broth added with all possible vegetables and spices.

Deruny are flavored, delicious, crispy potato pancakes. The name originates from the Old Slavonic verb “drat” what means “to grate”. Raw potatoes are ground and mixed with eggs and salt. Every Ukrainian hostess has her own receipt of deruny: some may add garlic, others – herbs and spicery, the third – fried onion or carrot. There is one feature common for all the versions of deryny – they are incredibly tasty.

Ukrainian salo is the essential part of the Ukrainian meal. Ukrainians season it with salt and pepper, smoke, boil and fry. Salo is even used in pastry cooking! For instance, verguny, a sort of crackers, are fried in pork salo. Ukrainians even invented candies with salo, they are called “salo in chocolate”. Salo is traditionally eaten with rye bread.

The Ukrainian traditional food cannot be possibly imagined without Chicken Kiev though this dish is relatively new. It sounds strange but Chicken Kiev appeared in New York in the XX century. It is believed that Ukrainian migrants so often ordered these cutlets in American restaurants that the dish was named in the honor of Kiev. Traditionally Chicken Kiev is a chopped chicken breast filled with butter. This food is fabulously palatable.

Mealtime in Ukraine

Ukrainian menu. Unbelievably tasty are these very words which fully describe traditional Ukrainian menu and Ukrainian food on the whole. Ukrainian cuisine is distinctive, various and tasty. Some culinary hits such as borsch, holubtsi and pampushki have even gained international popularity and recognition. Despite gastronomic tastes are developing and changing nowadays, there are still legendary dishes which are an integral part of national Ukrainian menu:

  • Salo with garlic;
  • Home-made sausage;
  • Vareniki with cabbage and mushrooms;
  • Jellied minced meat or holodetc;
  • Borsch;
  • Kapustnyak (fat cabbage soup);
  • Baked pork with buckwheat porridge;
  • Pickled beetroot, cabbage, water lemons;
  • Ryazhenka (fermented baked milk).

Ukrainian breakfast must be nutritious, tasty and hearty as Ukrainians consider it the most important mealtime of a day. The most preferable Ukrainian dishes for breakfast are pancakes with sour cream, butter or honey. These pancakes are always stuffed with curds, jam or condensed milk. Overall, Ukrainian people like to start the day with farinaceous food followed with a cup of tea, kissel or fruit compote.

Ukrainian dinner is consisted of several dishes: the soup for the first course, meat with porridge, appetizers, pickles and bread. The most popular foods in Ukraine for dinner are:

  • Borsch with tart apples and pampushki or fish soup;
  • Lezhni (a kind of stuffed pie on the base of potato donut);
  • Ground beetroot with horseradish;
  • Biscuit with cracklings;
  • Wheat porridge;
  • Dumplinns with sour cream (an extremely famous food in Ukraine);
  • Mochanka (fat curds with spices).

Ukrainian supper. It is a mistake to think that typical Ukrainian food comes to nothing more than borsch, varenyky and holubtsi. A traditional Ukrainian supper strikes with its variety! See it for yourself:

  • Potato with meat and vegetables baked in a ceramic pot;
  • Banosh (corn porridge with cracklings);
  • Yushka (fish or meat broth with different ingredients);
  • Stuffed fish;
  • Grechanyky (buckwheat and meat cutlets);
  • Fried mushrooms with cream or sour cream;
  • Krucheniki (a kind of rolls with diverse fillings).

Ukrainian desserts are the crowning glory of food in Ukraine. Traditional desserts represent flour pastry with a great amount of fats and eggs say desserts are made of tasty shortcrust. When the desserts are ready, they are sprinkled with sugar powder or poppy or lubricated with jam or honey dressing. The most famous desserts are:

  • Verguny;
  • Shuliki;
  • Solozheniki;
  • Puhkeniki;
  • Crunchy biscuits;
  • Fruit or berry pennik;
  • Prune stuffed with nuts.