Ukraine is nestled in the eastern part of Europe, bordering with Russia to the east, Belarus to the north, Poland, and Slovakia to the west and Hungary, Romania and Moldavia to the south. This country occupies the northwestern part of the Eastern European plan and a small part of the Carpathians and the Crimean Mountains. In the south, it is surrounded by the Black and the Azov Sea.
Ukraine has a rich history whose notable events and periods are initially marked during the 10th and 11th centuries when it was the center of the Eastern Slavic Republic, Kievan Russia – the most powerful European state at the time.
From the 14th to 17th century Ukraine was under the rule of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia and then was a part of the USSR. In 1986 Ukraine was hit by the Chernobyl nuclear environmental disaster and then became an independent country in 1991.
Today, more than 20 years after the nuclear disaster, the food produced for consumption is safe and the only products that are recommended to be avoided are mushrooms, berries, and game meat.
Ukrainian cuisine is delicious as well as highly caloric and with a high percentage of fat in most dishes. Apart from the traditional features, German, Russian, Polish, as well as Turkish impact, can be noticed in a great number of food preparations and recipes, including in the Ukrainian desserts.
Here is a list of 15 Ukrainian foods recommended by locals that may inspire you to visit this beautiful country and enjoy its gastronomy:
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Banosh is a traditional Ukrainian corn porridge that is made of corn flour cooked in sour cream and the popular Slovak Bryndza cheese.
Originally, Banosh is from the mountain region of the Carpathians but today it is served in restaurants around the entire country.
Banosh is usually served warm and topped with chopped bacon, crumbled cheese, vegetable sauce, or fried, crunchy breadcrumbs.
2. Chicken Kiev
Chicken Kiev is one of the best-rated and most popular dishes of traditional Ukrainian food. This dish is a flattened chicken breast that is covered with a cold layer of herb butter, coated in breadcrumbs, then fried.
This dish was highly popular by the 1980s but today it once again regains popularity in Ukrainian restaurants due to its simple preparation and mouthwatering taste.
Chicken Kiev is usually served hot with boiled potatoes and green salad on the side.
Pampushki are small Ukrainian buns made of flour, milk, yeast, butter, oil, eggs, sugar, and salt. The dough may be prepared in a sweet or savory version according to preference.
The Sweet Pampushki are filled with chunks of fresh fruit, berries, fruit jams, cottage cheese, sugar, lemon zest or raisins. The savory variant is plain but served with the traditional Ukrainian garlic sauce and alongside a bowl of the famous borscht.
Borscht is undoubtedly one of the most popular foods in Ukraine. It is a simple yet tasty, comforting broth made of bone or meat stock, vegetables, and fermented chunks of beetroot or/ and beetroot juice.
Borscht is also a part of the Russian cuisine and many other East Slavic nations with slight variations. No one is entirely certain about its exact origin despite the many debates on this topic. However, the beetroot and the beetroot juice are mandatory, though the rest of the ingredients may vary.
The broth may be prepared in a vegetarian version with vegetables according to the specific region but it can also include fish or meat.
Borscht is served with sour cream on the side and a piece of homemade bread and it can be consumed as an appetizer or light main dish.
This light, yet highly nutritious, comfort food is a sweet pudding made of wheat grains. Kutia is a popular Ukrainian food served at the Christmas Eve dinner as a treat that symbolizes health and agricultural prosperity.
Walnuts or almonds as well as honey and poppy seeds are added to this pudding and some versions also include fresh fruit.
These heavenly potato pancakes are Ukrainian food that is traditional yet the kind that never goes out of style neither in restaurants nor at street food vendors.
Deruny are made of grated potatoes, onions, eggs, sour cream and flour. These ingredients are combined into a batter that is pan- fried in the shape of small pancakes which become golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside when ready.
Deruny are served with sour cream and can be consumed as an appetizer or a light lunch.
Varenyky are one of the most favored Ukrainian dishes that may be prepared in numerous variants.
These dumplings come in a sweet or savory version although the dough is prepared with basic ingredients such as flour, eggs, salt, sugar, water and a bit of milk.
The dumplings are shaped into a crescent or square form after being filled with cheese, sauerkraut, eggs, meat, or fruit.
Next, they are boiled or steamed before being finally topped with melted butter or sour cream in their savory version or sugar and sour cream if they’re made sweet.
Salo is not only one of the most recognizable Ukrainian dishes but it is also an authentic pork fat product that can be consumed in various ways.
This dish is made of a non- rendered pork fatback that is cured or prepared with boiling, brining or dry- salting. The final product is pork rind with a yellowish color and almost no meat leftovers.
The cured fatback may be seasoned and flavored with herbs such as thyme or rosemary or spices like black pepper, red smoked paprika powder, and garlic.
Salo is considered a traditional or national Ukrainian food that was once regarded solely as peasant food. It is usually served in thin slices alongside bread and onion or garlic slices and a glass of spirit.
Paska is an Easter bread from Ukraine that goes by the same recipe yet different name (“kulich”) in Russia.
The Paska is made of a generous amount of eggs and butter, enhanced with citrus zest and juice, grated ginger, saffron, vanilla, and rum. Its shape is cylindrical and it has a specific sweet fragrance.
The recipe for this bread may be found in other variants that include raisins, candied fruit, or some festive decorations on the top made of sugar glaze, sprinkles, or poppy seeds.
Before eaten at the Easter family feast, the Paska is first taken to church on the Easter morning where it is blessed for good health, love prosperity and harmony,
Related post: The Best Traditional Slovakian Food
Bublik is a bun quite similar to a bagel, made of flour, water, salt and yeast. In the past years of czarist Russia, Bublik was sold as street food but nowadays it can be found on every corner in Ukraine, including the bread and pastry section in supermarkets.
After the dough is shaped in the traditional round for, then the Bublik is poached in water and sprinkled with seeds for a savory variant or sugar if it is made sweet. After this process, it is baked until the crust becomes finely brown.
Bublik is commonly consumed as a breakfast food in the morning or as a nutritious snack alongside a warm cup of coffee or tea.
Perepichka is a caloric yet super-tasty Ukrainian street food dish that is made of a soft sausage inside a yeasted dough that is deep-fried.
The origin of Perepichka dates back to 1981 when it was first made in one of Kyiv’s kiosks. From its first days to now, this dish has been a constantly popular food choice.
Perepichka is served hot, on the go, and with no condiments.
Holubtsi are traditional cabbage rolls from Ukraine but also quite a dominant dish and recipe in Russia, Slovakia, Moldova, Poland and Belarus.
These cabbage rolls are stuffed with a combination of rice, fried diced onions, and minced meat. Vegetables such as carrots, celery, parsley and mushrooms are added according to preference.
The name of “Holubtsi” stems from the word “golubki” which means pigeons, referring to the shape of the rolls but also to an old legend of their origin.
Namely, the aristocracy in the past ate pigeons as a specialty while the poor villagers couldn’t afford this so they invented a dish that would have the same form as the royals.
Holuntsi can also be made in a vegetarian version by excluding the mat and adding rice with vegetables or buckwheat. Some modern vegetarian versions also include chopped walnuts as an additional source of protein.
The cabbage leaves are boiled until they become soft and then they are filled with the meat-veggies-rice mixture. Next, the holubtsi are stewed slowly in a closed container and the main rule for this preparation is- the slower, the better.
They are best when served warm alongside a piece of rustic bread and a glass of red wine.