Ukraine, the Eastern European country is often referred to as the ‘breadbasket of Europe’. The subtropical climate allows farmers to grow barley, millet, wheat and rye. Despite the fact that Ukraine had been under the Russian domination for over two centuries, Ukrainians have successfully managed to preserve their native culture, tradition and traditional cuisines. While borsch is considered as the national dish by popular perception, many of the cuisines have origins in foreign countries. For example, Varenyky and Holubtsi have Turkish origin, Kovbasa has Polish origin and Chicken Kiev has a French origin. Some of the dishes have a tumultuous history to boast about. Here is a sneak peek to six mouth-watering delicacies from Ukraine.
- Chicken Kiev
Chicken Kiev is relished by tourists visiting Ukraine. A dish made of chicken fillet, plastered with butter and then smeared with bread crumbs or eggs, makes it an exquisite mouth-watering delicacy. The evolution of Kiev is believed to be in the eighteenth century where Russian chefs tried to incorporate French haute cuisine in Russian style. Cooking the dish needs a lot of patience and it requires quite some effort to get the bony breast pieces stuffed with butter. Often the butter is replaced with blue cheese and hence the name Chicken Cordon Bleu. It may also include a ham filling. This famous dish has made Ukrainian cuisine popular in the high street restaurants of New York and London.
Pirozhki or Pyrizhky is a Russian puff pastry consisting of baked or fried buns with a great multitude of fillings. The buns are made from yeast dough and the beautiful golden color can be attributed to the buns being glazed with egg. Usually, they are filled with meat, veggies or fruits (apples, cherries and apricots) along with spices. You can have it in the main course or as an appetizer. Fishes like salmon also make ideal fillings.
Over time, a lot of regional variations of the dish have come into being. The Greek variety is deep fried while in Azerbaijan it is filled with cream and forms an important dessert.
This is an unusual but interesting Ukrainian dish. ‘Kholod’ is a Russian word meaning ‘cold’ and true to its name, the dish is served cold. Traditionally, it had been a part of winter festive meals. Kholodets are often rectangular in shape, taking the shape of the dish in which it is chilled. It is basically a jelly-like dish made from pork, chicken or beef. ‘Zalivnoe’ is the non-meat variant and typically made from fish. They consist of dense bouillon. Kholodets with the generous help of vodka make a sumptuous appetizer.
This Ukrainian sour soup with its distinctive red color is a major attraction for tourists who are into Eastern European cuisine. Borscht is made from assorted vegetables like carrots, potatoes, beans etc. but the unique red color is due to its primary ingredient, beetroot. Several variations of borscht like rye-based white borscht can be seen on the menus of Ukrainian restaurants.
Imagine it to be Christmas time and you are out for a dinner with your loving partner to a hotel chain in Ukraine. There can’t be a better Ukrainian dish than Holubtsi, meaning ‘little pigeons’. Holubtsi is an unusual dish that is prepared with rolled cabbage leaves stuffed with meat, vegetables, rice or an amalgam of all these items as fillings. Traditionally, it has been served with sour cream or gravy.
Made from hard white wheat berries, milk, honey, raisins, almonds and most importantly, poppy seeds, Kutya is a viscous, juicy berry pudding dish with a subtle aroma that makes your mouth water at the first sight. Kutya may be served warm or chilled and sprinkled with cinnamon. It is usually prepared ahead of time and refrigerated to allow the flavor to develop. Traditionally, Kutya has been a part of Christmas festive meals and considered the most sacred of all Slavic dishes. It is believed that good luck will come to every home where it is served.
Next time you visit Ukraine or dine out, don’t forget to try these delicacies.