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Russian Cuisine

Russian cuisine is very, very unique. Because it’s really cold for almost half a year, we eat a lot of meat, rich thick soups, and of course, a lot of potatoes. The most common dishes include borsht (beetroot soup), pirogi (stuffed pies with meat, cabbage, eggs and green onions, mushrooms or various fruits), pelmeni (meat dumplings), varenniki (cabbage and potato dumplings), zapekanka (layered casseroleusually mashed potatoes with ground beef), and many other delicious plates. Here I’ll provide the recipes of my favorite foods that remind me of my home and family most.

Borsht

Ingredients:
1 pound bone-in beef
5 beets, peeled (3 grated and 2 left intact)
1 small cabbage, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 yellow onions, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon white vinegar
fresh parsley and fennel
salt and pepper to taste

Cooking:
Start your borsht by placing your beef in a big pot filled with cold water and bring it to a boil, stirring and taking out the meat foam constantly. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat and simmer it for about 2 hours. Take your two peeled beets and place the vegetables in the pot with meat—they will give the soup that bright red color. While the beef is cooking, sauté your chopped onions and cabbage, and grated carrots and beets in olive oil until the veggies become golden and tender. Add salt, pepper and minced garlic in the end, and then set aside. After two hours of cooking the beef, take out the beets and the meat. You can toss the beats, but I normally make a delicious salad out of them (grated beets, shredded cheese, minced garlic and mayo). Separate the meat from the bone, cut it into cubes and put back into the pot. Add the veggies mixture, vinegar (again, for a more saturated red color), cubed potatoes and the tomato paste. Simmer the soup for another hour over a low heat. Don’t forget to salt and pepper it to your taste. In the end, add some fresh herbs. Serve it with sour cream and toasted garlic bread. Enjoy!

Pelmeni

Ingredients:
2 eggs
3-4 cups flour
1 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 slice white bread, soaked in milk
2 finely chopped onions
salt and pepper to taste

Cooking:
First, make the dough by mixing 1 egg, butter, milk, water and flour, and then add a dash of salt. Refrigerate the dough while you’re making your meat stuffing. To make the filling, mix two kinds of meat, 1 egg, soaked bread and very finely chopped onions
(I’d recommend using a blender, because I don’t like to find chunks of onions in my pelmeni). Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the meat filling is ready, take out your dough and roll it out into several sheets. It has to be relatively thin, but not too thin so that it won’t tear while making the pelmeni. Take a glass cup and cut 2.5-inch round shapes from the dough using the edges of the cup. Place the meat in the middle of the dough round and pinch the edges together making it look like a little pie. Then fold the two edges together giving it a “hat” shape. When you pelmeni is ready, I prefer to freeze them for several hours or a day. But if you can’t wait to eat this savory dish, place them into the salted boiling water and cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly. Strain the water with a colander, add some butter and top them with cracked fresh black pepper. And as you’ve probably already guessed, serve pelmeni with sour cream! Bon Appétit!

P.S.  You can also fry the cooked pelmeni in butter. Though it will probably be like 2,000 calories per portion, I promise the taste will be fascinating.

Shangi

Ingredients:
1 egg, beaten
2 cups warm milk
3-4 cups flour
1 cup sour cream
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons dry yeast, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of warm water
10-12 large potatoes (mashed potatoes sort)
2 cups cream, warm
1 egg, beaten
1 brick butter
salt and pepper to taste

Cooking:
Make the dough by mixing 1 egg, milk, flour, sour cream, 3 tablespoons of butter, yeast and a dash of salt, and wrap the bowl in a blanket to keep the dough warm while you’re making your potatoes. Cook the potatoes unpeeled in a large pot for about 45 minutes until they become soft. When ready, peel and mash the potatoes, gradually adding warm cream, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of butter and salt. Get back to your dough and make 1-inch thick round patties out of it (5 inches in diameter). Place the mashed potatoes on top of each patty, top it with a thin layer of sour cream (for the crust) and bake them in a preheated oven until golden brown (375-400F). When shangi is ready, let them rest for 10 minutes. Then melt a brick of butter and dip every piece in it. Serve hot with a glass of chilled milk. My granny’s shangi is my favorite dish ever. Good luck!

2 Comments
  1. Hello Anya,My name is Peter Mills, and i came upon your comment, from the article written by Matthew Chance, “My view of Moscow”. I followed the link you posted and i am fascinated by you and your experiences.I must hasten to add that for a number of reasons, going back to my childhood, i have been, intrigued,fascinated and even terrified of the Russian nation.I gather that you are an extremely busy lady, so i dont expect you to answer my e-mail, I needed to tell you that you are inspirational, in your obvious love of life. I am a,South African born and bred,caucasion.I love my part of the world, but to me the entire world, is a beautifull planet. I wish you all the very best, in this life,and may you receive, all you wish for yourself.Kind, warm regards.Peter Mills skype. peter.millsprop Parkhurst,Johannesburg,South Africa

  2. Thank you, Peter, for your kind words! It’s really nice to hear my blog brings inspiration to people. I’ve been to South Africa–Cape Town and Durban–four years ago, and I was absolutely fascinated by your country. Cape Town is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. I hope to keep impressing you with my traveling adventures around the globe. And thanks so much for subscribing to my blog. Take care!

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