Delightful Russian Cuisine

The vast multicultural expanse of Russia makes Russian cuisine just as varied and rich. Peasant food that was found amongst the rural populations became the foundation to traditional Russian cuisine. Due to the harsh environment that many peasants found themselves in, they would live off the earth, which included a diet of berries, fish, honey, mushrooms and the game that was hunted.

Many Russians would grow crops of barley, wheat, rye and millet, from which they could produce breads, cereals, beer and vodka. Soups and stews that were made from the poultry and meats that were hunted, were richly flavored, and popular meals throughout the cold winter months. The invasions by the Mongols and the Tartars in the thirteen century brought new techniques to the peasants, such as making sour milk, grilling meat, and the use of spices. Clotted sour milk became a staple diet to most Russians, and lasted well into the 20th century. Eastern cooking methods were added to the making of Russian cuisine, due to Russia’s close proximity to Persia and the Ottoman Empire.

Smoked meat, pastry cooking, green vegetables, salads, wines and chocolate are a few culinary items that were introduced in the 16th to the 18th century. Although most of these refined foods were only available to the rich and aristocratic circles in Russia, it added to the Russian cuisine and meals that would become traditional Russian dishes.

Soup has always been vital to the Russian cuisine during the ages, and can be divided into seven different groups of soup. Traditional soups ranged from borsch, ukha, teur and Shchi. Cold soups are based on kvass. Light soups and stews feature water and vegetables, while noodle soups are incorporated with meat, milk and mushrooms. Soups that are based on cabbage are called Shchi, with thick soups such as rassolnick and solynaka being based on meat broth. Grain and vegetable based soups, as well as fish soups complete the traditional soups list.

Three very basic variations makes up the traditional meat dishes in Russian cuisine. Studen, or Kholodets, is a meat dish that is made from jellied pork meat or veal. Spices and vegetables are added, and it is usually served with mustard or ground garlic, together with horse radish and smetana. In the past, most meat dishes were accompanied by cereals and porridges. Pelmeni is made from a minced meat filling which is wrapped in a thin layer of dough. Any meat is used and they can be filled with beef, lamb, or pork. It is also the national dish of Russian Siberia, as the dish can be frozen and stored in large quantities. Lastly, there is Shashlyk, that is a skewer with marinated meat that is grilled.

Other traditional dishes also include blini, a form of pancake, and Syrniki, which is made from fried curd fritters. Most traditional drinks are no longer on the Russian cuisine list, such as kvass, medok, sbiten and mors.


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