A particularly well known Russian dish is Beef Stroganoff, whose origins can be traced back to the 19th century. The first known recipe appeared in a Russian cookbook in 1861 and calls for sautéed beef served with a mustard sauce and topped with soured cream. Since that time the recipe has developed to the point where it now often includes onions, mushrooms, tomato puree and sometimes paprika. It even became a popular dish in China before the Second World War.
Russian Kulich (Easter Bread)
The majority of European nation have their own variants on Easter bread and the Kulich is Russia’s. This sweet yeast-risen bread is cylindrical in shape (although it’s sometimes shaped like a cross) and flavoured with almonds, raisins, candied orange peel and spices.
Caviar – one of the world’s most luxurious and expensive foods – originated in Russia. This pricey delicacy is simply the salted eggs of fish belonging to the Acipenseridae family, although connoisseurs would argue that the term ‘caviar’ should only be applied if the eggs come from wild sturgeon. The roe of sturgeon caught in the Black and Caspian seas are branded as the particularly sought after (and expensive) Beluga, Sevruga and Ossetra caviars. Often caviar is served on top of one of Russia’s other well known foods, the blini.
Blini are basically Russian pancakes although they’re smaller than the pancakes eaten in other cultures and sometimes baked in the oven rather than fried in a pan. Usually Russian blini batter is yeasted and left to rise before being diluted with either milk or cold/boiling water. Over the years blini have become a widely popular canapé and are often served topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon or caviar.
In Russia no alcohol is as popular as vodka and there are literally thousands of types available, including the world renowned Russian Standard vodka. There’s even a vodka museum in Moscow where you can learn all about the history of vodka, see how the distillation process works and become acquainted with Russian vodka traditions. Pride in the national beverage means that throughout Russian vodka history there have been strict laws regarding who can produce and sell it. Vodka is also the base of the popular White Russian cocktail.
Pelmeni are a favourite dish in Russia. A flour and water dough is used to encase a filling of minced meat, mushrooms or fish. A variety of spices and flavourings are mixed into the fillings and the once cooked the dumplings are commonly put in soups or eaten dipped into sour cream.
In Russia sour cream is known as Smetana and is a hugely popular condiment. It is served with a vast variety of dishes as both a side and a core ingredient. Russians commonly use Smetana as a dip for dumplings, a topping for blini and an additional flavour in borscht. A sweetened version of Smetana is also widely available in Russia.
Russia isn’t a nation known for its sweet tooth but belochka are one particularly popular chocolate. Belochka are simply hazelnut pralines coated in a chocolate ‘glaze’. Belochka translates as ‘squirrel’ and its packaging is famed for being adorned with illustrations of those furry little critters.