Russia is a beautiful country, with a very rich and unique history. It’s also the biggest country in the world, with so many historical, cultural, architectural and natural attractions, that it would take months or maybe years for a curious tourist to see and experience all of them. Whether you decide to visit one of its bustling cities, or you’d rather spend your time in the countryside, there is one thing you can count on – you won’t stay hungry or thirsty. Because, if there’s anything as vast as the country itself, it has to be its cuisine. Here are some of the most famous and most delicious Russian foods and drinks.
Although it actually originates from the Ukraine, Borscht is considered a Russian specialty, and rightly so, since it’s a go-to meal in most Russian homes. This is a healthy and nutritious beetroot-based soup, loaded with meat and vegetables such as onions, carrots, cabbage and potatoes. The fact that it can be served either hot or cold makes it very convenient to serve in summer and winter alike. And with some sour cream added on top of it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how tasty this soup really is.
This is a very refreshing beverage and, a very popular one in Russia, even though it’s considered the oldest drink Russians can pride in. It’s actually a type of soda made from bread or rye, with insignificant alcohol levels, which Russians think makes it safe enough even for children to drink nearly unlimitedly. It’s a great summer drink and if you want to enjoy it like the Russians do, all you have to do is buy drinking glasses for the occasion and let the cool sips of your Kvas cool you down on a hot summer afternoon.
Pirozhki, or their bigger version, pirogi, are actually stuffed sourdough pockets or buns, which are then baked or fried. The stuffing is what makes this dish interesting, since it can contain anything from cabbage, minced meat, cheese or mashed potatoes. There are even versions of pirozhki with mashed potatoes added to the dough, making them even more interesting and delicious. What brings even more to their savory taste is a bit of sour cream on top. There are whole restaurants dedicated to these wonderful pastries, so you’ll find them easily in Russia, but also in Ukraine.
Yes, this is a Russian beverage and no, it doesn’t contain any alcohol. In fact, this fermented milk drink is very healthy. It was even distributed to patients in the former USSR hospitals as treatment for various conditions, including digestive disorders and allergies, but also some more serious ones, such as tuberculosis and cancer. Nowadays people drink it to improve their immune function and fight different fungi, bacteria and even tumors. However, the only knowledge you need before trying kefir is that it’s cooling and energizing and that you can add fresh fruit and vegetables, but also some spices to it for taste.
This is another Russian soup, but one that’s so thick and rich in ingredients that it can be served on its own as a complete meal. Not only does it pack different types of meat, the strong and high-calorie ones, like bacon, ham, sausage and beef, but it also contains vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, onions and cabbage. To make it particularly sour, Russians garnish it with finely chopped pickles and a slice or two of lemon. Sometimes Solyanka is even made with fish, so no matter what your preferences are, you’ll find the version of this soup that’s exactly to your liking.
When you hear the word ‘salad’, you probably think of fresh vegetables, but this is definitely not your average salad. In the 19th century it was originally made with ingredients like smoked duck, veal tongue, caviar and a secret-recipe sauce, but today it’s not that complicated or demanding to make. Nowadays it’s made with boiled peas, chopped potatoes, carrots, eggs, pickles and either boiled chicken or beef, copiously covered with mayonnaise. It’s also known as Russian salad to people around the world, but especially in the Slavic countries, where New Year’s Eve isn’t a holiday if you don’t serve this delicious dish.
These wonderful foods and drinks have only scratched the surface of the bountiful Russian cuisine, but they are reason enough to visit this incredible country and revel in everything it has to offer.