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Belarusian Cuisine: Top 9 National Dishes of Belarus

Belarusian Cuisine: Top 9 National Dishes of Belarus

Belarus is a country located in the very center of Europe, bordering on five states. In the west, Belarusian regions are on the border with Poland, in the northwest with Lithuania, in the north with Latvia and Russia, in the south with Ukraine, and in the east also with Russia.

Most Popular Belarusian Dishes

Belarusian cuisine is greatly influenced by climatic conditions throughout the country and, to a certain extent, by the geographical location of the country. Located on the border of large geopolitical regions and experienced a certain influence from various cultures: the Orthodox East, the Catholic West, the northern Baltic culture, the Muslim peoples of the south, Jewish tavern cuisine.

Hearty, soulful, homely – all these epithets describe the national cuisine of Belarus. Authentic dishes of Belarusian cuisine are traditionally prepared from the simplest ingredients: potatoes, onions, bacon, eggs etc.

So without further ado, here are the absolute must-try traditional dishes of Belarus along with recipes for you to try for yourself.

Pelmeni

pelmeni

Pelmeni is a dish made of unleavened dough, similar in appearance to dumplings. But in fact these are potato balls boiled in salted water, the preparation of which takes a lot of time and effort.

Onions and potatoes are grated and then the mixture is carefully squeezed out, and after that a little wheat flour, salt and an egg are added. As a rule, dumplings are served with sour cream and sprinkled with fresh herbs. But you can also often find dumplings in the composition of soup or chicken broth.

Draniki

draniki

Draniki, also known as potato pancakes, is a dish that is usually made from the country’s favorite food, the potato. Even if you have never been to Belarus, potato pancakes made from grated potatoes with salt, fried in lard, you definitely tried at least once in your life. Easy to prepare, delicious, filling and truly homemade. Draniki are served with sour cream or butter. And one of the secrets of cooking: they are not only fried in a pan, but then baked in clay pots.

The traditional recipe does not contain eggs. Belarusian varieties of potatoes are so starchy that no additional fastening elements are required for the preparation of potato pancakes. But in modern recipes, you can often find additives to potato pancakes in the form of onions, bacon or ham and greens. 

Verashchaka

Verashchaka is a hot, rich sauce-soup made with pork ribs and homemade peasant sausage. The meat is stewed in a pan with salt, pepper and juniper seeds added. Utilising the meat broth, a sauce is prepared with the addition of flour and herbs.

Verashchaka is often served with pancakes or potato pancakes. Traditionally, the dish was considered festive and was prepared for weddings, christenings, Christmas and Shrovetide.

Nalistniki

Nalistniki are pancakes with a sweet or savory filling, made with unleavened egg dough. They are cooked very thin and, due to the unusual dough, they are quite elastic in texture. Fillings such as cottage cheese, berries, potatoes, mushrooms or meat are then added. This national dish owes its name to the way these pancakes are folded, as if wrapping the filling with a leaf.

Kholodnik

Kholodnik

Kholodnik is a cold soup made from beets, nettles and sorrel. It is often enjoyed by Belarusians during spells of hot weather as it is light and provides lots of energy. Many mistakenly believe that beetroot soup is just cold borscht, but in fact, Kholodnik is a cross between borscht and okroshka.

Krambambulya

Krambambulya is a strong traditional alcoholic drink composing of red wine and other spirits such as rum, vodka or gin. Depending on the region of the country, the recipe for preparing Krambambulya differs greatly.

Zhurek

Zhurek is a hot soup made with sour flour. It is one of the oldest recipes in the history of Belarusian cuisine. Although to some extent zhurek or zhur, as it is sometimes called, can also be considered a sauce. 

The recipe uses use flour diluted with water to the state of gruel. It is then left for two days to bask in a warm place and then it is boiled until thick, seasoned with onions and lard and served with baked potatoes.

Drachena

Drachena is an omelet made with potatoes cooked in the oven. Eggs are beaten and then milk and a little flour are added to the mixture which is placed into a frying pan with melted lard and then placed into the oven. There are a lot of recipes for Drachena, but often it is also stuffed with minced meat. Traditionally, drachena was served with milk and cut into pieces like a pie.

Kulaga

Kulaga
Photo credit: Maria Romanovskaya

Kulaga is a mixture of fresh berries boiled to the consistency of jelly, which is served with white bread and pancakes. It is baked in the oven, but served cold on the table. Kulaga is the main dessert of Belarusian cuisine.

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