Ukrainian cuisine is very much a part of the country’s culture, lifestyle and customs. This biggest country in Europe is well-known for its great diversity and rich authentic traditions; same applies to the traditional Ukrainian cuisine.
It offers amazing flavors and delicious tastes. Popular ingredients in the cuisine of Ukraine are various meats, mushrooms, vegetables, berries, fruits and herbs. Ukrainian cuisine stems from peasant dishes based on the plentiful grains and staple vegetables grown in the country.
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Some of the best Ukrainian dishes are actually very simple. Many ingredients are used in what some may consider to be unusual combinations, creating a unique and sumptuous dish. Considered the “breadbasket of Europe”, it follows that bread is a staple in Ukraine. There are dozens of methods used in baking breads, which are often used in authentic traditions and customs. Dishes often contain pickled vegetables when these are not in season and certain dishes can only be made when ingredients are available. Pastries and cakes are popular, but they are not very sweet.
Many traditional Ukrainian dishes have counterparts in neighboring countries (particularly Poland, Belarussia, and Russia). Although Ukrainian dishes have origins from different countries, the way they are prepared are uniquely Ukrainian. Borshch, pierogi or varenyky and chicken Kiev are among the most popular Ukrainian dishes which can be found in many menus abroad. However, Ukrainian cuisine extends much farther than that. Ukraine’s most delicious foods are best cooked at home and in the welcoming guesthouses of rural Ukraine.
«Destinations» rounded up top authentic cuisine dishes to try, in order to have a real Ukrainian gastronomic experience.
In case you have just heard of legendary Ukrainian «borshch» but never tried it, or would like to refresh that gastronomic experience in your memory, western and northern regions of Ukraine are best places to do so. There you will have a chance to sample different variations of legendary Ukrainian dish, as «borshch» recipes greatly vary in the different parts of the country. For the true state-of-art samples of this dish you have to head to the hidden-away villages of Carpathian Mountains, where borshch is cooked not on the gas stove, but is left to simmer for hours in the coziness of wooden oven.
This traditional soup, made out of beet root and up to 20 other ingredients, is a staple dish in every Ukrainian family. Traditionally borshch recipe is a basic stir-fry of grated beet root with tomatoes, added to a generous soup of vegetables – onions, carrots, fresh or pickled cabbage, peppers, and whatever else is available from the house garden.
These are Ukrainian dumplings also known as «pierogi». Conveniently varenyky can be made out of the cheapest ingredients available. Dough is a simple mix of flour, water and salt. And stuffing can be anything: from mashed potatoes with mushrooms and fried onions, pickled cabbage, minced meat and even cherries! The sweet version of varenyky is usually served with sour cream and honey.
The highlands of Carpathian Mountains and the far-away areas of Transcarpathia are the regions, where one can taste Ukraine’s most luscious dishes. Bordering with no less than 4 countries (Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Moldova), Ukrainian Carpathian cuisine brings together the best tastes of each land. However, region’s most famous contribution to Ukrainian menu is banosh. This traditional food of highland shepherds is essentially corn flour, cooked in sour cream, with the tasty additions of brynza – local salty sheep cheese, wild white mushrooms and shkvarky (scrunchy bits of pork lard). The true banosh is cooked on fire, thousands of meters above the sea level in the midst of impressive Carpathian peaks and flourishing valleys.
These are potato pancakes. Grated or ground potatoes with flour and eggs
are shaped into pancake-like form and deep fried on sunflower oil. Deruny are served with a sour cream or mushroom and onion stew.
This is one of the most peculiar national dishes often frowned at not only by foreigners but by younger Ukrainians as well. Kholodets is an authentic Ukrainian dish that is more popular at rural areas of the country. It is a jellied meat or fish with vegetables and herbs.
Uzvar is traditional Ukrainian drink. It’s typically served during Christmas and Easter Dinners, and is regularly cooked in the local households. This refreshing beverage is actually a compote, made out of dried fruits. Most popular ingredients are dried apples, pears and apricots, prunes, raisins and honey.
Holubtsi are stuffed cabbage rolls. Boiled cabbage leaves are wrapped around a filling of minced meat, rice, potatoes and spices. Often served with sour cream or shkvarky (scrunchy bits of pork lard).
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The average Ukrainian's diet consists of relatively inexpensive and bland staple foods made into traditional Ukrainian dishes. Various pastries, soups, meat dishes and unexpected mixture of tastes – you may find all these in Ukrainian cuisine. As Ukrainians are extremely hospitable their meals are served in very generous quantities. Considered to be one of top 20 tastiest foods of the world, Ukrainian national food got a merited renown in many countries worldwide.