Christmas is one of the most beloved and popular holidays in Ukraine. The traditions of celebrating Christmas in Ukraine reach back hundreds of years and boast unique authenticity and interesting rituals.
Sviaty Vechir, or Holy Evening, is the Ukrainian Christmas Eve. Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians in Ukraine traditionally have 2 Christmas dinners. The first one is a Lent Dinner, it is held on January 6 and should consist of meatless dishes. Traditionally people fast (don't eat anything) all day but you might start the day drinking some holy water that has been blessed at church. You can't start eating the meal until the first star is seen in the sky. The second one is a Christmas Festive dinner held on January 7, when the meat dishes and alcohol are allowed on the table. Both Christmas dinners traditionally include a number of authentic Ukrainian dishes, which have over thousand-year history and date back to pagan times.
Kutya, being single most important Christmas dish in Ukraine, was known as a popular ritualistic food even before the arrival of Christianity. This is a cooked wheat porridge, mixed with poppy seeds, honey, and raisins. It symbolizes wealth and appreciates for successful harvest season. Varenyky, marinated herring, mushrooms, vegetable broth are among other popular Christmas dishes. But let us have a look at some less trivial Ukrainian Christmas dishes that are easy to cook and will taste exceptionally good on a festive day.
Read: Traditional Ukrainian Christmas Dishes
Potato cakes with mushrooms. Potato pancakes, also called as deruny, tertiukhy, and kremzlyky, are widely popular in Ukraine. This dish is a wonderful example of a really good Ukrainian comfort food. There are dozens of recipe variations, including the ones with mushrooms, cabbage, egg and onion. Roasted together in one pot, crispy potato slapjacks and savory mushrooms taste decadently rich.
This one-pot meal is the one to cook if you need to feed a big family. It will make a fulfilling main course on your holiday table, even though is doesn’t contain any meat ingredients. Creatively made and vegan-friendly, this crowd-pleasing dish will enthuse all who will try it.
• 1 egg
• 1 tbsp flour
• 2 bulb onions
• 1 tbsp sour cream
• 6-7 medium potatoes
• 100 g (3,5 oz) hard cheese
• 1 carrot
• 1 bulb onion
• 250 ml sour cream
• 450 g (1 lb) champignons
• vegetable oil (for frying)
• ground black pepper – to taste
• salt – to taste
Peel, wash, and grate potatoes and bulb onions. As potatoes have a lot of excess moisture that can hinder getting crispy cakes, I advise you to squeeze them. Then toss the potato-onion mass with an egg and sour cream (sour cream and onion will not let the potato to darken when cooked). Season the mass with salt and pepper.
Peel and rinse champignons, carrot, and bulb onion. Cut champignons into medium pieces, grate the carrot, and chop the onion.
Preheat vegetable oil in a frying pan and transfer the mushrooms there. Next add the onion and carrot. Sauté the ingredients, and 5 minutes before the end of cooking, stir in sour cream and salt.
Drop a tablespoon of the potato mass into the pan and flatten it out. Fry for 5-7 minutes until the bottom is browned. Then flip over and fry on the other side. Repeat until the remaining potato mass is used, while adding more oil as needed. Drain the hash browns on a paper towel.
Note that the size of your pancakes should not be too big in order to fit the diameter of your clay pot.
Arrange the prepared ingredients in clay pots in layers: mushrooms – harsh brown – mushrooms – pancake. Repeat till pots are completely filled.
Grate cheese and top the ingredients with it. Place the pots in an oven for a quarter of an hour in the preheated oven to 220°C (428°F).
Once you open the clay pots and reveal the flavor of hot steaming mushrooms and browned potato slapjacks covered with golden melted cheese, all your family members will rush to the kitchen.
Mazuricks. The mazuricks are extremely juicy and crisp turkey cutlets with melted cheese. It is considered to be one of the popular festive dishes of authentic Ukrainian cuisine.
1 kg turkey fillet
150 g cheese
100 g dairy butter
50 ml milk
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 pinch thyme
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
Rinse, drain and mince the turkey fillet. Melt the dairy butter and add to the mincemeat, stir up well.
Add the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, flour and finely grated cheese to the mincemeat. Stir it up well until fully combined.
Shape cutlets or sausages, dip twice in breadcrumbs. Put them into bowl; tightly put a lid on and store into fridge for 40 mins.
Heat the vegetable oil in frying pan, add several thyme twigs and minced garlic. Once garlic is browned, pull it out, along with thyme, from the oil.
Fry the mazuricks from both sides in spicy garlic oil until ready.
The mazuricks can be dressed with chopped garlic or herbs before served.
Baked apples stuffed with walnuts, raisins, and dried apricots. This luscious baked apple dessert is a true crowd-pleaser. Tender apples are stuffed with a walnut-raisin-dried apricot mixture and scented with vanilla and cinnamon. It tastes unbelievably good. Plus, during baking your house will fill with a delightful smell of coziness and comfort.
The recipe is easy to adapt for the number of invited guests. You just increase the amount of ingredients for the filling. Plus, this sweet dish is a lucky find for those who have vegan friends and want to treat them with a tasty dessert. Flavorful baked apples are also a great idea to end a romantic supper.
This dish is really easy to cook. We’ll just scoop out apples, fill them with nuts and dried fruits, and bake. Everything is simple and so delicious. Moreover, the dessert is healthy – only fruits, nuts, and honey.
• 1 tbsp honey
• 3 medium apples
• 30 g (1 oz) walnuts
• 20 g (2 tbsp) raisins
• 45 g (1,5 oz) dried apricots
• cinnamon – to taste
• vanilla – to taste
The recipe is for three apples. If you want to cook a bigger portion, you can adjust the amount of ingredients for the filling depending on the number of apples.
It’s better to use firm apples that are free of bad spots and bruises.
Wash and dry apples. Carefully cut out the stem area from the apples using an apple corer/slicer or a knife. Then scoop out the core and seeds with a teaspoon. Leave the bottom intact.
Chop walnuts, dried apricots, and raisins finely. You may also crush the mixture of nuts and dried fruits in a blender. Combine the mixture with cinnamon, vanilla, and honey. Stir everything carefully.
Stuff the apples with the prepared filling.
Stand the apples on a baking sheet. Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water into the bottom of the baking dish. Put the apples in the preheated oven and bake them at 180°C (356°F) until they are cooked through and become soft. Do not overcook apples, in other case they’ll become mushy. Spoon the emerging juice over the apples from time to time during baking.
Transfer the apples to a serving plate. Serve them till they are warm. Top the apples with powdered sugar for a truly decadent treat.
Read: Ukrainian Cuisine. Most Popular Dishes
Source: ukrainian-recipes.com, ukrainian-recipes.com. Image source: shutterstock.com