Traditional Food In Ukraine To Try

traditional food in ukraine
| 5 min read

When getting familiar with a new culture, there are fundamental things to begin with: history, languages, strange facts about the country, and their traditional foods. Countries around the world identify and pride with their national cuisine, mainly when they are known and enjoyed beyond its borders. Ukraine is no exception. Over the centuries, the peculiarities of traditional food in Ukraine have evolved. Climate conditions have influenced the complicacy of the cuisines, neighboring countries, and diligent farmers. Flavors are often added to the menu to make a perfect blend despite the different taste of some seasonings. We will discuss the top 10 traditional food in Ukraine.

1. Borsch (vegetable soup)

To begin with the classics, Borsch is a traditional Ukrainian vegetable soup known around the globe. The main ingredients of Borsch are dill, potato, tomatoes, cabbage, beetroot, onion, and carrots. Fish or meat is sometimes added to the non-vegetarian version. The Borsch is an ancient Ukrainian national dish, dating back to the 14th century which accounts for its numerous recipes (more than 30 in number). Mainly, the cuisine has a ruling red color due to the main ingredient (beetroot). In some version of the soup, the beetroot is replaced with sorrel leaves giving it an attractive green color. Typically, the dish has an aroma of mixed vegetables. However, the non-vegetarian version has a taste of meat or fish which adds to its flavor. The meal is served and enjoyed with little garlic buns and sour cream also known as pampushki.

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2. Vareniki (Ukrainian dumpling)

Source: Photo by Flickr user Rebecca T. Caro used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Another mouth-watering cuisine in Ukraine is vareniki, also known as pyrohy. The dish is a dumpling with different combinations of fillings. Although there are a wide variety of sauces, the method of preparation remains the same: enveloping the leavenless dough around the filling. The tastiest and most popular mixture worth mentioning is ground cabbage, mushrooms, cherries, and potatoes as well as fish, liver or meat. The most common filling is ground potatoes often sprinkled with dill, but there are a variety of choices to enjoy. The taste of vareniki depends on the filling. However, when stuffed with fruits such as cherry, it is best enjoyed with sugar or rancid butter and cream.

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3. Holubtsy (cabbage rolls)

Another favorite traditional Ukrainian dish is the Holubtsy which means ‘little pigeons.’ This dish is mostly prepared during the Christmas season. Although Holubtsy is popular throughout Ukraine, the method of preparing it is quite unusual and challenging. It is made by filling a combination of forcemeat, rice, carrot, onion, and wrapped in cooked cabbage leaves. Although cabbage leaves are mostly used, grape leaves, spinach, lettuce, and beet leaves are used as well. After the stuffing is done, the wrap is simmered into a tomato sauce for about an hour before served. Just like the vareniki, the filling may differ widely, from grains, vegetables, meat, rice or their mixture. The dish is usually enjoyed with sour butter or cream and served in gravy. The holubtsy is very delicious and spicy food.

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4. Salo (traditional snack)

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Salo is a delicious traditional Ukrainian snack that is very healthy as it contains vitamins A and D which are responsible for detoxification, digestion and brain activity. This delicacy is made with raw fat extracted from the back of a pig. It is smoked or salted with a tiny piece of garlic and a piece of dark bread. Despite its primary source, Salo has become a special traditional snack and is often served as an appetizer and is a symbol of wealth and hospitality among the Ukrainians. Salo is also famous in other countries such as Russia and Belarus with a slightly different method of preparation.

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5. Deruny (potato pancakes)

Deruny Potato Pancakes
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Brücke-Osteuropa used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Known with different names among different countries, Deruny or potato pancakes are a special Ukrainian delicacy probably invented in Belarus. Deruny is a tasty but straightforward dish made by mixing flour and egg to well-shredded raw potatoes. When thoroughly dried, they appear golden-brown and are as delicious as they look. To maximize the taste, certain ingredients such as mushrooms, chopped onions, meat, and flavors are added during preparation. This treat is known all around the world and is often taken with tea. And for many centuries, potato pancakes have been a traditional Ukrainian dish because of its irresistible taste and preference by all age groups.

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6. Nalysnyky (Ukrainian crepe)

Nalysnyky 053
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kagor used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Nalysnyky is a healthy sumptuous food that is wrapped with randomly chosen recipes. Any desired filling will do, but the traditional Ukrainian stuffing involves raisins and cottage cheese. Other favorite sauces are mushrooms and meat for lunch, and berries for breakfast. To be made to perfection, the food is slowly cooked. This treat looks like pancakes; the difference is that the Ukrainian Nalysnyky is thin, which means it has a taste dominated by the filling used. You can enjoy Nalysnyky with sour cream, sugar or jam.

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7. Kovbasa (sausage)

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kagor used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Kovbasa is basically any sausage in Ukraine with a proper casing filled with grounded spices, fats, and beef or pork meat. Kovbasa means a traditional Ukrainian home-made cuisine. This dish is, of course, more healthy, delicious and aromatic than the regular store sausage. The method of preparing this treat is straightforward. Thin casings are filled with spices, fats, and meat and then fried or baked. This dish is also popular in Poland and is now finding its way to the heart of Americans. When you visit Ukraine or Poland, you will see this cuisine served at dinner, launch or breakfast.

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8. Kholodet (fish or meat recipe)

Another favorite traditional Ukrainian food is the Kholodet which is a yummy cuisine made primarily with fish or meat. This delicacy has a taste of fish or chicken and garlic and gives a unique dining experience. To make this dish, fish or meat broth, sometimes mixed with bay leaves, carrots, and onions are slowly cooked for quite a long time. To know if Kholodets is thoroughly done, a finger is dipped. If the fingers feel sticky to the touch, Kholodets is ready to be served and enjoyed. It can also be refrigerated and enjoyed with horseradish and mustard.

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9. Kapusniak (soup)

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mariuszjbie used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Kapusniak is a food that is very popular among the historical Zaporizhia Cossacks which is present-day central Ukraine. The name of this soup is gotten from its main ingredient which is sauerkraut also called “kapusta” in the local Ukrainian dialect. After Borscht, it is the second in popularity due to its taste, nutritional value and density. To prepare, the sauerkraut is grounded with fatty bacon, and sometimes flour is also added. To improve taste, pickled cereals, cabbage is added to the soup as well. This treat is enjoyed all year round and is popular in households and restaurants throughout Ukraine.

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10. Paska (Ukrainian bread)

Paska is a Ukrainian bread and a symbol of love and celebration as it is mostly enjoyed during the Easter or Christmas holidays. This food is also popular in Poland and is known as Babka. Traditionally, the bread is baked in the early morning of the Good Friday. Paska is baked with alcohol, flavoring agents and eggs and then decorated with all forms of religious symbols. It is a popular giveaway during friends and family visits during the Easter celebrations. However, it would be vain to travel to Ukraine and not get to taste this delightful treat.

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Get ready for a foodie experience

The traditional Ukrainian cuisines vary from host to host and from region to region. Sometimes, even times and seasons. Your visit to Ukraine won’t be fulfilled without trying two or more of the above-listed cuisines as all of them possess irresistible taste and qualities.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Ibrahim is a passionate writer with a keen interest in traveling. He not only travels to discover the world but also himself. And when it comes to writing, Ibrahim loves to keep it simple with a...Read more

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