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, therefore we can call it absolutely organic food. 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.
Most of the Ukrainian dishes are very simple but they include up to 20 ingredients which are quite impressive! What is more, Ukraine is considered to be a breadbasket of Europe because it grows the most amount of wheat. It also makes Ukrainian bread one of the most delicious in the world. Lots of dishes also include canned vegetables when they are not in season. Let’s talk about some dishes more specifically.
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 beetroot and up to 20 other ingredients, is a staple dish in every Ukrainian family. Traditionally borshch recipe is a basic stir-fry of grated beetroot 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.
The Ukrainian dumplings also are known as «pierogi». Conveniently varenyky can be made out of the cheapest ingredients available. The 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 the 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 the 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 is 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 in rural areas of the country. It is a jellied meat or fish with vegetables and herbs.
Holubtsi is 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).