Ukrainian Traditional Cuisine: Traditional Ukraine Food Guide
Editor: Krystyna, founder of Ukrainian Dating Blog & Ukrainian Dating Stories and speaker at the iDate conference. On this blog she shares her knowledge and experiences with international dating and intercultural relationship. Read more
Editor: Krystyna, passionate dating blogger, speaker and author read more
We all know that a man falls in love through his stomach. You should know what your Ukrainian wife will cook for you, therefore you should learn Ukrainian cuisine first before you fall in Love with a Ukrainian girl.
So basically I’m appealing to the readers of the Ukrainian Dating Blog in writing this article as our goal is to meet your own – to find a lovely and caring Ukrainian bride. Having said that, I personally believe that if you’re really serious about getting into a relationship with a nice Ukrainian woman and you’re looking for one that will last a lifetime, then it would be best to get to know them first through their rich cultural heritage.
About Ukraine and Its Culinary History
It is believed that the Trypillians were the first settlers in Ukraine around 4500–2000 B.C. and they farmed the land and raised livestock for food. With trading routes established between Eastern Europe and Arabia, Europe, and Asia wheat became plentiful and exported to other countries; Ukraine became a cultural melting pot as a result of that.
So they have both indigenous cuisines as well as dishes that were borrowed from other countries or delicacies that are a mixture of 2 or more nations’ recipes and became a unique recipe on their own. Among the famous native Ukrainian cuisines are the tarts, cheesecake, breaded meats and desserts, as well as the strudels which were adopted since the Austro-Hungarian times.
Meanwhile the stuffed cabbage locally called as the “holubtsi” and the “varenyky” (dumplings) had its roots from Turkey. The “sauerkraut” and “kovbasa” or sausage they got from Poland; however, these days all the preparation and cooking methods of these dishes are uniquely Ukrainian now and they can be clearly distinguished with the ingredients being used.
Bread is the heart of Ukrainian food
Some crops being cultivated are used to make various kinds of bread; grains like buckwheat, corn, oats, barley, rye and wheat are among them. Examples include the polianitsa, a large, round white bread; agnautka, a flat whole-grained loaf (Ukranians love to eat this bread during meal time); Ukrainka, a dark wheel-shaped loaf that’s about 3 lbs. in weight. On the other hand, baked cornmeal as a side dish that is served with meat is called, nachynka.
Bread is a food that has held an honored place in Ukrainian cuisine throughout its history. Ukraine was known as the “bread basket of Europe”. A sour rye bread is common bread you will find on Ukrainian tables . In the south, white bread is more eaten more often. Ukrainian women are famous for making all sorts of breads and pastries. Guests are served bread with salt – bread for hospitality and salt for friendship.
Ukrainian Traditional Recipes
What is now known as the traditional Ukrainian cuisines derived from simple peasant dishes that came about from rich gran-based food and a wide selection of vegetables. Most of common of the crops grown in the country are mushrooms, cabbages, grapes, potatoes and sugar beets. These are often key ingredients in soups and salads.
Borshch, a national delicacy, is loved by all Ukrainians and depending on the person who’ll prepare it, it can have varied tastes. Other common recipes include thick millet chowders (a type of grain food), pea soups and mushroom beans.
Vegetable dishes are also a favorite among locals and recipes like straw potatoes “kartoplia solimkoi” and stuffed cabbage “holobtsi” are well known throughout the country.
Some meat-based recipes of Ukraine are so good that neighboring countries and even countries from across the globe include them in their diet. Chicken Kiev or “Kotlety Po-Kyivskomy” as they call it is one of them – it is a chicken breast stuffed with a buttery filling.
Ukrainians love meat and make delicious ham, sausage and smoked bacon. Chicken is prepared by many delicious recipes handed down from Ukrainian women to their daughters. The most recognizable dish from Ukrainian cuisine is Chicken Kiev. This rich dish is made by stuffing a chicken breast with butter.
Ukrainian meals follow a European pattern. Breakfast is not heavy, usually bread or pastry along with coffee or tea.
A heartier Ukrainian breakfast is cooked cereal made of buckwheat or barley with milk stirred in. The largest meal is at mid-day.
Most main meals start with a soup and include a meat dish. Dinnertime is a smaller lighter meal but is considered sacred family time.
Potato Varenyky (Potato Dumplings)
- Prepare instant potatoes according to the instructions that they came with.
- Mix cheese in a mixing bowl by stirring it thoroughly for 1-2 minutes, then set aside for later use.
- Get another mixing bowl – this time get a larger one – and toss in flour, egg, and salt and again mix them thoroughly.
- Add ½ cup of water and stir until dough is sticky and strecheable.
- Sprinkle flour on a baker’s table or any flat non-sticky surface (if you don’t have a baker’s table) and roll out the dough until they flatten to roughly ¼-inch thick.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out circles from the dough (you may also use the rim of a cup or glass to do this).
- Put approximately 1 tbsp. of the potato-cheese mixture into each of the cut out dough circles. Fold them over and seal the edges using your hands.
- Set a large pot on the stove and, pour 6 – 10 cups of water into it and turn up the heat to medium-high. Wait until the water boils, then using thongs toss in the varnyky one at a time. Once they float to the surface, then that means they’re cooked.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
- Set a large pot on top of stove and turn up the temperature to medium, then pour in the beef broth. Stir the broth for about 1 – 2 minutes and then add the vegetables, celery salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover pot with lid and set temperature dial to low (or medium if you want to cook it half the time) and cook for about 25 minutes.
- Toss in the sugar and lemon juice, then cook again for another 5 minutes.
- Serve with bread.
Makes 6 servings.
Holubtsi (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)
- Cook rice as instructed on its package.
- Set skillet on the stove and turn heat to medium. Add the oil and let it heat up for about 1 minute.
- Toss in the onions and hamburger and cook until brown.
- Turn off the stove and transfer the cooked hamburger and onion from the skillet into a mixing bowl and pour in the rice too. Drizzle it with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside for later use.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Set large pot atop the stove and pour in the vinegar and water, then bring to boil.
- Let cabbage simmer into the water-vinegar mixture for 5 – 10 minutes until the leave are tender.
- Place cabbage on a separate large clean plate and remove the leaves from the cabbage head.
- Chop off the hard stems of the leaf that’s on the center too!
- Measure 1 tbsp full of the rice-hamburger mix and place in the cabbage leaf, then roll it over and press tightly (fold the edges of the leaves to seal it if necessary).
- Get a casserole dish and pour in tomato juice, then place the cabbage rolls in it. Cover with lid and put into the oven.
- Bake cabbage rools on tomato juice for 1 – 1½ hours.
Makes 20 to 30 cabbage rolls.
Potato Draniki (Deep-Fried Straw Potatoes)
- Chop potatoes into 1/8-inch thick small strips.
- Fill a medium-size bowl with cold ice water and wash potato strips in it, then drain.
- Lay potato strips over paper towels and let dry for 2-3 minutes.
- Set deep frying pan over the stove and heat oil to high heat. Use thongs to drop the potato striips (in small batches) and fry them until they become golden brown.
- Lay them again over clean paper towels to drain the oil this time and drizzle them with salt.
Makes 4 – 6 servings.
Kotlety Po-Kyivskomy (Chicken Kiev)
- Cut and divide the butter into 8 equal parts making each slice the size of your pinky finger
- Scatter the parsley in a small plate and roll the rectangularly cut butter on it to coat, then put it in a cool dry place and set it aside for later use.
- Wrap the chicken breasts one in between 2 sheets of wax paper. Use a kitchen mallet or a rolling pin to pound each chicken beast covered in wax paper until they are thin. When you’re done pounding them remove the wax paper, but do it with finese and try not to distort the meat.
- Put 1 rectangular butter on each chicken breast and apply pressure as you roll the meat and make it as compact as possible. Do this on all 8 breasts.
- Prepare 3 shallow dishes. 1 to beat the eggs in, place the flour in the second dish and the bread crumbs on the third. Dip the breasts in order: first into the flour, then the eggs and lastly into the bread crumbs.
- Set the skillet atop the stove and set temperature dial to high heat. Heat the vegetable oil and use thongs to place the rolls carefully and fry them (turning each side every 3-4 minutes). Do this for about 15 – 20 minutes until the chicken rolls becomes golden brown in color. Prepare a flat dish and place kitchen tissue paper on top of it, then transfer each chicken roll to the plate to let cool and allow the paper to absorb excess oil. Serve with rice or potato.
Makes 8 servings.
Ukrainian Nachynka (Cornbread Stuffing)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Set skillet atop stove and turn temperature dial to medium-heat, then heat butter. Cook the onion over melted butter and check to see if they’re tender (do not cook onion until it becomes brown).
- Get a clean mixing bowl and pour in the cornmeal, sugar, pepper and salt. Add them to the cooked onion in the skillet and stir thoroughly.
- This time gradually pour in the hot milk, stirring the mix thoroughly until it becomes smooth and lumps are nowhere to be found.
- Lastly add the eggs and stir thoroughly once more.
- Pour the cooked ingredients into a greased casserole dish and bake it without the lid cover for just over an hour, or until the nachynka becomes golden brown.
Makes 6 – 8 servings.
Final Thoughts by Krystyna
To all Ukrainian girls who have a foreigner boyfriend or husband, then I highly recommend that you try cooking these recipes for your partners as they are as good as the recipes say they are!
To all aspiring gentlemen who want to have a Ukrainian girlfriend or wife, then you can expect that your partner will know at least one or two recipes from this list, but it is said that most Ukrainian women are excellent cook.
So you can be sure that you will not only appreciate their tender loving care, but their cooking as well. Find your soul mate and get to know them better.
About the author: Krystyna is an International dating blogger and coach. Here you find more than 500 articles on dating foreign ladies. In her regularly updated blog posts, Krys has shown a keen eye for online dating issues, dating scam and cross-cultural relationships.
Questions? Feel free to ask Krystyna, your Ukrainian dating expert(s. here: Contact Krystyna)
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