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Ukrainian dishes borshch, salo, and Chicken Kyiv are undoubtedly popular and well-recognized, but there is even more to explore! If you wondered what traditional Ukrainian food is all about — here are all the answers! Let’s dive into Lesson 101: Food of Ukraine

Traditional Ukrainian food is very diverse, but our dishes have some distinctive features.

First of all, one of the major places in Ukrainian cuisine takes grain and vegetable-based dishes, which is obviously not a surprise, as Ukraine is a world agricultural leader. We use quality ingredients carefully grown on our fields and farms to make our food especially rich, tasteful, and healthy. 

Secondly, we use diverse techniques practiced throughout our entire history. Cold Ukrainian winters made the nation experiment with the cooking processes and led to the development of drying, curing, pickling, salting, and smoking technologies. 

Pickled cucumbers are popular appetisers in Ukraine
Photo: klopotenko.com

And thirdly, there can be hundreds of different Ukrainian recipes for one dish. The way of cooking differs from region to region, and each family usually has its own formula for a delicious dish. You can often alter the recipe to make it vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian. 

The most famous traditional Ukrainian dishes are borshch, varenyky, holubtsi, Chicken Kyiv, banosh, and syrnyky, and it surely is not an exhaustive list. 

Borshch (sometimes written as borsch, borsht, bortsch, or borshch) is a sour soup with distinctive red colour. Usually, the ingredients are meat, beetroots, cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes. It can be served either hot or cold, and it can also be white or green, depending on the ingredients. It is traditionally done with smetana (sour cream), pampushky (tiny garlic buns), garlic, onion, and salo (pork lard). 

Varenyky are made of dough and different fillings, such as meat, potatoes, mushrooms, vegetables, fruits, cheese, or berries. Their fillings can be salty or sweet, lean or meaty.

Holubtsi are cabbage rolls stuffed with ground meat, rice, and onions, stewed in a tomato sauce, and served with sour cream.

Chicken Kyiv is a chicken filet fried with a piece of butter and herbs inside. It usually is served with mashed potatoes and vegetable salad. 

Banush or banosh is made of cornmeal, topped with sour cream, pork rind, mushrooms, and bryndza (sheep milk cheese).

Syrnyky are fried curd chees pancakes served with sour cream, jam, honey, or condensed milk. It is typical food for breakfast in Ukraine

Uzvar, a traditional Ukrainian drink
Photo: www.klopotenko.com

Special beverages of Ukrainian cuisine are uzvar, compote, kvas, mead, and many others. Uzvar is made of dried fruits, mainly apples, pears, and prunes. Compote is made of dried or fresh fruits or berries boiled in water. Kvas is a sweet-and-sour sparkling beverage brewed from yeast, sugar, and dried rye bread. Mead is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from honey, water, and yeast. 

Kutia, a ceremonial dish usually cooked for Christmas
Photo: www.klopotenko.com

Ukrainian ceremonial food is also very rich and diverse. Kutia, special Ukrainian Christmas food, is a sweet, cereal-based dish with poppy seeds, nuts, and honey. For Easter, Ukrainians usually cook paska cakes and colour Easter eggs called krashanky. Korovai is a traditional ritual bread for weddings, that can differ in shape, size, and decoration.

Vereshchaka, fragrant pork ribs baked in kvas with spices and garlic
Photo: www.klopotenko.com

These days, traditional Ukrainian food is greatly reinterpreted by talented chefs who mix ancient traditions, unusual ingredients, and modern techniques and make Ukrainian food popular. Restaurants and cafes experiment and create unbelievable dishes — there is even a joke about cooking borshch with avocados. Will it be just a joke? With Ukrainians, you never know 🙂 So if you were interested in what Ukrainians eat daily, here is your answer.

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