Like many Eastern European countries, Russia is full of old-world flavor and traditional dishes that came from recipes passed down for generations. Similar to recipes from Silesia or the traditional dishes that Poland is known for, Russia is also home to a unique and classic cuisine that many are surprised by when visiting a place such as Moscow. While there are dishes that many people know of, there are others that seldom make their way outside of the country and can only truly be appreciated when eaten at the place of their origin.


In order to appreciate both the culture and history of Russia, one must first appreciate its food and all of the factors throughout history that have influenced it.


Many people are quick to associate dishes such as beef stroganoff and borscht with Russia and while both are accurate, shchi is a staple in Russian cuisine and has been since the 9th century. This soup is known to come in several versions, one of which is a sour shchi, consisting of sauerkraut, vegetable or beef stock, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and other hearty herbs one might find in a winter stew. It can also be made with sorrel (not unlike sorrel soup, another popular dish in Russia), or simply with fresh cabbage.


Borscht originated in Ukraine but has made its way to Russia where it's wholly popular now and is considered to be one of the most popular soups in the region. Everyone knows this soup due to its deep purple-pink hue, as it's made with beetroot and tomatoes. While it can be served cold, the difference between this dish anywhere else versus in Russia is that in Russia, the dish is always served hot. It's extremely healthy and is a nice precursor to a meal or a light lunch.


Alternatively, okróshka is a soup that's always served cold and is popular during the summer months in Russia. This soup is made with vegetables which are left raw, eggs, potatoes, and boiled meat. It's a hearty meal for a summer's day and one that's full of protein. It's often topped with sour cream and served alongside a fermented drink made with black rye called kvas.

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Blinis are often associated with caviar as they're the small pancakes that accompany the delicacy in most countries. In Russia, blinis are eaten with many things, not just caviar, and are essentially just small pancakes that have a neutral flavor but serve as a vehicle for other, bolder flavors. They can be filled with cottage cheese, ground meat, mushrooms, and even cabbage as a snack or light lunch.


Kasha has gained a reputation thanks to the cereal that shares the same name. In Russia, kasha is eaten hot and treated like oatmeal, prepared in very much the same way. However, it also contains many other whole grains such as buckwheat, millet, barley, oats, and rice, which means it's packed with fiber and protein, making it a great way to start the day. Depending on the type of kasha used, it can be prepared in many different ways, making it one of the most versatile dishes in Russia.

Pelmeni And Vareniki

Dumplings are popular in many European countries and in Russia, pelmeni and vareniki are two of the most popular. Pelmeni originated in Siberia and usually has meat or specifically fish as a filling. They're kept frozen and are simple to prepare with a pot of boiling water. Vareniki is a vegetarian version of dumping and are usually filled with cheese, cabbage, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, or fruit. These dumplings can be found with meat but provide a nice veggie option for those who don't eat meat.

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Chicken Kiev

Another dish that's well-known for being delicious but not so well-known for originating in Russia is chicken kiev. This buttery chicken dish is so good because, well, it's stuffed with butter! Grated cheese, herbs, mushrooms, and egg yolk are often part of this dish as well, and to finish, it's breaded and baked in oil for the perfect golden-brown outside. It's filling and satisfying and full of flavor, with the perfect crispy texture to balance out its decadence.

Herring Under The Fur Coat

This dish comes with quite an unusual name and it's also unlikely that it would be found anywhere outside of Russia. However, those who have had the pleasure of seeing this dish and eating it know not to be thrown off by its unusual name. This Russian salad is made with layers of salted herring that's covered with chopped potatoes, carrots, onions, and beets, and the whole thing is dressed simply with mayonnaise.

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