26 Nov Russian Food to Keep You Warm This Winter
In the country where the climate is harsh, and winter is long and cold, food is practically designed to keep your body warm. Russian food is full of thick soups and hearty meals, which quickly fill up your stomach. See our selection of the most typical and the tastiest Russian dishes (and drinks) you should try this winter!
Rassolnik is an old traditional Russian soup, which history dates back to the 15th century. It has sour-salty taste and is made from pickled cucumbers and barley. Most often it comes with pieces of meat and potatoes but, as almost all Russian soups, fish and vegetarian variants are possible. One portion of this soup will instantly warm up your body. Rassolnik has one more advantage – it’s just a perfect hangover treatment!
Although borscht has Ukrainian origins, it is very popular soup in Russia. It’s is made from beetroot, and usually comes with cabbage, potatoes and meat (however, a vegetarian version is also common). The truth is – there are as many different kinds of borshch as there are cooks. Borscht is a signature dish in many restaurants and is sometimes served in a bowl made of specially baked and formed bread.
The name “Solyanka” derives from the Russian “соль” or “salt”, because of its salty taste (the base of this soup is made from pickled cucumbers and brine). There are three main types of Solyanka, depending on its main ingredient, which can be meat, fish or mushrooms (vegetable version also exists but it’s not very common). But the real secret of this soup lies in broth, which takes a long time to prepare and only skilled cooks know how to do it properly. It’s always very thiсk, fills you up quickly and is a perfect choice for winter evenings.
Russian Main Dishes
Almost every country has its own kind of dumplings. Pelmeni is the Russian version of this worldwide known dish, most often filled with meat, wrapped in thin dough. But there are 100+ ways of preparing and serving Pelmeni, depending on the part of Russia you’re in and personal preferences. You can find them also with fish or mushrooms, boiled, fried or served in a soup. The most solid and interesting traditions of cooking and eating dumplings are in Siberia because for locals living in the harsh cold climate, dumplings are actually the perfect dish – they are easy to prepare and can be stored frozen.
Beef Stroganoff (Бефстроганов)
Beef Stroganoff is made of thinly sliced cuts of beef, sautéed together with onions and mushrooms, served with rice or pasta, and sour cream. Although pretty simple and cheap, Beef Stroganoff is probably the most prominent Russian dish. It won a few important culinary competitions back in the 19th and 20th centuries and conquered the palates of many Americans and Europeans, nowadays being served all around the world. Filling and rather heavy, not recommended for tiny and sensitive stomachs.
The word “golubtsy” comes from “golub” – pigeon. But don’t worry, we don’t eat pigeons! Golubtsy is a Russian name for cabbage rolls – cabbage leaves stuffed with meat and rice, often accompanied with a sauce. It was a very popular dish during Soviet times, and reminds us of winter family dinners. No wonder that every Russian claims that the best golubtsy are made by his grandma! Good news for vegetarians – golubsty are equally tasty if you replace meat with mushrooms.
Tea (Chaj/ Чай)
Tea drinking is an indispensable element of Russian culture. Tea, both black and green, is by far the most popular drink in the country, consumed by most of Russians on a daily basis. Small tea celebrations happen in Russian homes every day, enjoyed together with family and friends. Tea often comes along with small sweets, or if served with honey or varenye (home-made jam), acts as a dessert itself. Long talks over a cup of tea will not only warm up your body but also your heart.
Medovukha is a honey-based alcoholic beverage, which usually doesn’t contain more than 16% of alcohol. It’s quite easy to prepare, so many Russians make it at home for their own use. And the home-made Medovukha is the best you can get! If you stay with a local family, ask them to treat you with a shot, or two. They will be very pleased to hear that you like it!
Last but not least… the famous Russian vodka! During winter we especially recommend vodkas, which contain spices, like honey and red pepper. The tricky thing about alcohol is that although even one drink will make feel warm, alcohol actually cools your body down, so the warming effect won’t last long. So enjoy your vodka shots but try to stay inside and save making a snowman for another time.
Do you feel like trying some Russian food? During the Trans-Siberian Railway trip you will have an opportunity to taste local food of various regions. Check our Essential guide for Trans-Siberian Railway trip.
Or just Book ExploRussia’s Home Cooking Experience and enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal and amazing time spend with your local hosts!
Photo credit: (1) Vladislav Estrajkh http://bit.ly/15vGzGp (2) Andrei Zmievski http://bit.ly/11uiOfC (3) Vladislav Estrajkh http://bit.ly/1vMPpKM (4) Mika Meskanen http://bit.ly/1vMPuOL (5) Naotake Murayama http://bit.ly/1riaJXF (6) Kake http://bit.ly/1riaPP8 (8) Kateryna Kondrashova http://bit.ly/1Fq6ThU (9) Vladimir Varfolomeev http://bit.ly/1xEGuH9