Have you always wanted to cook Ukrainian food? In our article we present you the top 10 of our favorite dishes of the Ukrainian cuisine. The Ukrainian cuisine is down-to-earth and hearty, but can also be quite sophisticated. Come with us on a culinary journey to Ukraine and discover the most delicious Ukrainian dishes. You will notice that many dishes in Ukrainian cuisine are also available in other countries, for example in Poland or Russia. But this does not matter for our list, because we want to know first of all what is put on the plate in Ukraine. Smatshnoho – Bon appétit!
Borscht is perhaps the best known Ukrainian dish. It is known in Poland as barszcz and in Russia also as borscht, but the dish originated in Ukraine. A classic borscht consists of onions, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and a little beef (many make it vegetarian as well). The most important ingredient, however, is beetroot, which also provides the characteristic red color. Regionally, there are quite different borscht variants and each Ukrainian family has its own recipe. There is also green borscht with sorrel and – especially delicious on hot days – a cold borscht. However, this is prepared in a completely different way than the classic borscht and is especially popular in Lithuania and Poland.
Wrapping food in dough and then cooking it is something that exists in many countries. The Poles have their pierogi, the Italians their ravioli and the Ukrainians their Varenyky. The production of these delicious dumplings is handmade and especially the “closing” of the Varenyky is often not so easy. But once you get the hang of it, the result is a delicious dish that is also very versatile. Depending on taste, the Varenyky can be served with precooked meat, mashed potatoes, cabbage or mushrooms. There are actually no limits to the imagination. There are also sweet Varenyky, in which case cottage cheese or fruits (especially cherries) are used. In any case, Smetana belongs to it, a thick blob of sour cream.
Holubtsi are cabbage rolls, which are prepared in a similar form also in some western countries. They are also known in a similar form in Russia. In classic Holubtsi, a head of cabbage is boiled for a long time, then the leaves are carefully separated from the head and put aside. Then the leaves are stuffed with rice, bay leaves, onions, carrots, minced meat and pepper and stewed in the oven. It goes great with a sauce of water, tomato paste and spices. As a side dish we recommend mashed potatoes. A delicious dish and a Ukrainian food that is not so complicated once you know how to remove the cabbage leaves from the head.
Chicken Kyiv is often served in restaurants and even in Western Europe you can find the Ukrainian dish. From the outside, Chicken Kyiv appears rather unspectacular, looking a bit like a corn dog or a rolled-up Vienna style schnitzel. It’s only when you cut it open that you realize how refined Ukrainian cuisine can be here: Namely, the cutlet is filled with butter or herb butter, which then gently floats out of the cutlet. Especially with herb butter Chicken Kyiv tastes very delicious. It goes well with side dishes such as Hrechka (we’ll tell you what that is below) or simply potatoes and a salad.
Halushky are a classic of Eastern European cuisine and are also known in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania and Lithuania. It is one of the easiest dishes to cook on our list of top 10 Ukrainian cuisine. Small, unfilled dough dumplings in round or square shape are cooked – ready. Traditionally, Halushky were served for dinner and thus became a symbol of Ukrainian cuisine. In Western Ukraine, Halushky are also popularly prepared with potatoes and cottage cheese. Throughout the country, Halushky are often served with stewed onions, melted butter or sour cream.
Kholodets is a classic in Ukrainian, but also in Russian cuisine and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. Its name comes from the Ukrainian word for cold and Kholodets is eaten with pleasure especially in winter. Kholodets is aspic and its production is not so easy. Above all, the quality of the meat (usually beef or chicken) is crucial.
Also in the production of the glibbery mass must be considered a few things. It is not made from artificial gelatine, but from a strong broth obtained from parts of long-cooked bones. The Kholodets is then given the right seasoning by the addition of bay leaves, spices and garlic in the last step. Now everything has to be cooled and the popular appetizer is ready, which also goes perfectly with Horylka, the Ukrainian vodka.
If you don’t want to spend as long in the kitchen as you do for Kholodets, Deruny are just what you need. Ukrainian potato pancakes are the perfect dish for beginners and are also known in other countries. For this, grated potatoes, onions, flour and eggs are mixed and formed into round pieces. These are then fried until they are golden brown. Smetana, Ukrainian sour cream, must not be missing here either. Chives or other leeks are suitable as garnish. You can also eat Deruny sweet, for example with jam or fresh fruits.
Salo is the classic of Ukrainian cuisine and symbolically represents the whole country. There are countless jokes about Salo and you can order it in many Ukrainian restaurants. Salo is back fat matured in salt and spices. It is additionally seasoned with garlic, but often also with paprika, and then stored for months. This is how it acquires its characteristic white color. It is then cut into very thin pieces. When eaten, good Salo literally melts in your mouth. It is usually eaten with Horylka, and its high fat content makes it the ideal base for a party night. But salo is also eaten with bread and freshly ground pepper.
At Christmas in Ukraine are traditionally served 12 Lenten dishes. The most important dish is called Kutya. It is prepared from boiled wheat grains, poppy seeds, honey and, depending on the family, other ingredients such as raisins and nuts. Each member of the family must eat at least one spoonful of the Kutya. In mythology, it is said that the head of the family can guess how the coming year will be by the thickness of the Kutya. If you want to know more about Ukrainian Christmas traditions, click here.
Ukrainian side dishes
We have presented you some Ukrainian dishes above. Many of them do not need any side dish, for example Deruny, but others are served with side dishes. We would like to introduce you to two of them here.
Pickling vegetables used to be the only way to preserve them for longer. In the West, this has somewhat gone out of fashion, but not in Ukraine. “How can you recognize a Ukrainian house?” someone asked on an Internet forum the other day. The appropriate answer came immediately: “By the many jars of pcikled food on the windowsill.” There are countless variations and each family has its own method of pickling cucumbers, beetroot or carrots. Thus, even in the cold Ukrainian winter, one always has a perfect side dish to accompany the hearty dishes. Pickled cucumbers, which are much more sour than cornichons, are especially popular and, along with salo and dried fish, are the most popular side dish for Horylka.
In Italy there is pasta, in China rice, and in Ukraine? Here the main side dish is Hrechka, buckwheat groats. Buckwheat is boiled and often served with melted butter. Some also roast it lightly. Hrechka can be enjoyed both sweet (see Kutlya above) and salty, as it has a relatively neutral taste. According to one statistic, the per capita consumption of Hrechka in Ukraine was 12 kg per year!
Did you like the article? What are your favorite dishes of Ukrainian cuisine? Let us know and write us in the comments which Ukrainian food you like the most.