Easy Potato Recipes From Belarus, White Russia

Ulla River

White Russia

Belarus is White Russia in literal translation and Minsk is its capital city. Of all the former Soviet Socialist Republics, the CIA reports that Belarus is most closely associated with Russia today, in economic ties at least. Belarus is located just southwest of the larger country and its history includes participation in a four-nation commonwealth before its time as BSSR. Today's politics have caused some consternation regarding the nation's name, some citizens wishing to distance themselves from Russia.

The name farther back is White Rus (long u sound), referring to Slavs and their portion of Eastern Europe that congealed around the old Kiev Rus state. Ukraine was called White Russia in the 1960s as well, having been part of the commonwealth mentioned. Black Rus also has existed and of course, all of these names gave rise to alcoholic drinks called Black Russian and White Russian. Why they contain the Mexican liquor Kahlua is unknown to me.

Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine were once joined into a single political entity known as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth before Ukraine and Belarus became part of the USSR. These four nations shared food dishes, cultures, and additional aspects of life intramurally with other nations. Russian and Belarussian are the official languages of Belarus today, with Russian the more widely spoken.

Flag of Belarus

Belarus

CIA map of Belarus (Public domain images this page.)
CIA map of Belarus (Public domain images this page.)

The country has survived periods of poverty, but the landscape is remarkable in its beauty and variety. As seen in the included photographs of local waterways, the colors of lake and sky are such as to appear unreal in their beauty.

The vertical band to the left of the National Flag represents the traditional embroidery of National Ornamentation, it's cultural arts portrayed in fabrics and clothing especially:

  • The horizontal red band recalls the struggles and conflicts against past oppression (likely blood shed), while
  • The final green band represents hope for the future and the myriad national forests among the countryside.

A video presentation below illustrates the scenic qualities of the landscapes and the flavor of the people of Belarus, set against a background of native music.

Minsk Is the Capital Of Belarus

A markerMinsk -
Minsk, Belarus
[get directions]

Note the wealth of forests in the nation.

Belrus and song "There, Over the Hill" by Stary Olsa.

Stary Olsa

In 2015, this musical group celebrated its 16thanniversary together. Its name Old Olsa comes from a brook in the West Mahiloũ Region of Belarus. The band performs traditional folk ballads, military inspired songs, Belarusan Renaissance pieces, canticles of the 16th - 17th centuries, and other period pieces.

Potato Krazy

Source

Please rate this beautiful, golden brown,delicious recipe.

5 stars from 1 rating of Potato Zrazy

Potato Zrazy

My mother made potato cakes with left over homemade mashed potatoes and these potato zrazy and deruny remind me a little of those.

In Belarus and surrounding areas of Central Eastern Europe, the original zrazy is a meat dish made from rolls of sliced beef, stuffed with any of several items. These are rolled or twisted up and tied with thin string, fried in oil, and placed into a casserole to be simmered in broth, celery, and spices. These steps give the dish a variety of layered flavors. This meat zrazy is similar to the German roulade and Germany lies just to the southwest of the four former commonwealth nations.

“Ukrainian” Easter Eggs are also found in all of these nations in their own recognizable designs, as well as others surrounding the former commonwealth, like Romania and Hungary.

Some ideas migrate with people and others emerge simultaneously in different areas; it is hard to judge which in the case of decrated eggs, although some disciplines of science opt for migration as the answer.

Potato Zrazy

Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Pounds of white potatoes
  • ¾ Pound ground beef or ground chuck (If you like, you can also use rump roast or top steak and grind it after boiling.)
  • 1 Medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and chopped.
  • Olive or vegetable oil for sautéing
  • 4 oz. hot pork fat, bacon grease, butter, or substitute
  • Salt, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS
Potatoes for Cakes

  • Grate a full pound of potatoes fine, into a bowl.
  • Boil remaining potatoes unpeeled for 25 minutes, drain and cool.
  • Peel the second batch of potatoes, grate, and add them to the first batch in the bowl.
  • Mix all the potatoes together, taste, and salt as needed. Set aside.

Meat Filling

  • Boil the meat until no pink remains, drain, and cool somewhat.
  • Place chopped onion into a skillet with a little olive oil and sauté. Drain and place in a large bowl.
  • Add meat into the fried onions. Mix well with clean hands.
  • Make elongated potato cakes and wrap around portions of meat filling by patting potatoes into a thick patty of dough, placing meat in the center and folding over potatoes, smoothing to seal. If potatoes are too dry, add a little milk. Take care not to stuff too much filling into each potato cake.
  • Fry the stuffed potatoes in fat until golden brown, drain, and serve hot, with garlic sauce. Alternatively, bake in a 350 º F oven until golden brown.
  • In some homes, these zrazy are served with hot pork fast poured over them.

Krivo Lake, Belarus

Belarussian Garlic Sauce

This is a Garlic Mayonnaise without eggs

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup or more of Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Boiling water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a blender, place garlic and add salt and boiling water to release flavors.
  • Begin to blend on a low setting; pouring oil slowly into the garlic until a mayonnaise consistence occurs.
  • This sauce is often used in conjunction with a thick sour cream called smetana.

Belorussian National Potato Meal - Draniki and Tea

Source

Deruny or Draniki

This is another sort of potato cake, one that my Ukrainian uncles-in-law and Russian teachers enjoyed when I was a child.

The first time I attempted to make these, they fell apart, because I forgot the flour. My mother learned to make these in southern Ohio during the Great Depression, but without the egg. Basic dishes in distant countries are often similar.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Large potatoes
  • 1 Large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt and a dash of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Peel and grate the potatoes and pour off excess potato water.
  • In a large bowl, place all ingredients and mix well with your clean hands. (It’s easier for me to mix the dry ingredients to distribute the seasoning and then add the dry to the moist ingredients and mix.)
  • Heat a skillet over moderate heat and add the vegetable oil. When hot, drop the potato batter by spoonfuls into the skillet.
  • Fry over moderate heat about 3-4 minutes per side, or until deep golden brown.
  • Serve hot with applesauce, yogurt, cottage cheese, or sour cream.

 

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Additions and Tastes 13 comments

zzron profile image

zzron 6 years ago from Houston, TX.

Sounds wonderful :)


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thay are very good tasting and I hope you can try them and enjoy! Thanks for posting.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for a great informative hub and wonderful recipes. The pictures are beautiful.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Hello, hello! - The colors look unreal to me; just gorgeous. I want to sit beside those waters. Thanks for visitng!


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

I love the geography lesson, and the recipe sounds great, a little fatty for my current regime. I would love to see some photos of Zrazy and a lesson in how to pronounce it. And I have never boiled ground beef before, how do you do that? It sounds like a mess. Also, is the potato mixture a combination of grated raw potato and grated cooked potato? That sounds completely different from any cooking I have done. I'm excited to see if I can make this work, but I am scratching my head. Also, what is hot pork fast? I know, I'm a dummy, but my wife's favorite food is potatoes. Wouldn't be nice to make a completely new potato dish for her birthday?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Hi Steve -

Cincinnati style chili begins with boiled ground beef. Break it up and boil it in a pot of salted water and drain it. I do the same with this recipe - less fat that way.

Raw potato and cooked potato makes an interesting texture together. Some cooks add a beaten egg or a little milk. Soemtimes the potato water moisture is enough to hold it together.

These zrazy look a bit like corn dogs when they are done, shorter and with no stick.

I have heard "zrazy" pronounced in several ways:

zrah-zee, zrahdz-jee, zrah-shee, zrahd-shee, zrahdz-shee

There may be other pronunications as well. I use the first one.

Pork fat - A local butcher can provide it, you can cut it off some fresh side meat and heat it, or you can use lard. I don't use it at all.

Cheers!


rprcarz50 profile image

rprcarz50 6 years ago

Hi again Patty,

Very good read . Nice timing for this information since the leader of Russia was in the U.S.A. yesterday.And he and President Obama are at the G-20 that is being held in Canada today.

I especially liked the description of their national flag.

Thank you !

Ron

As always also a2z50


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Your recipe hubs keep pleasantly surprising me. So unusual


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

I collect recipes that are different and refreshing - it's so easy to get tired and in a rut of less-good food.

Thanks for all the comments!

ethel - let me know if ou try them :) Ron - hope you are well.


Loren's Gem profile image

Loren's Gem 6 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

Wonderful places with wonderful food! Should probably try your Potato Zrazy. Thanks for sharing Patty! :-)


shambalash profile image

shambalash 6 years ago

Patty, thank you for representing my home country in such a marvelous way! However, I can't agree in some of the places, in particular - "Ukraine was called White Russia in the 1960s as well" - because it is absolutely wrong. Ukraine has little to do with this name, especially regarding 1960's.

"Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine were once joined into a single political entity known as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth before Ukraine and Belarus became part of the USSR. " -- well, this is also overgeneralizing as there was a long period of time and history between "being joined into a single state" and "becoming part of the USSR."

I liked the recipes as well although as a native Belarusian I have never met your variant of zrazy - we usually use only non-boiled potatoes and minced meat which is stuffed inside grated potato cakes. They are fried and then stewed.

Your hub made me think of writing a "true story" about Belarus, thank you!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thanks, s. - USA education- my classmates and I were taught Ukraine and White Russia/Belarus information in history classes taught by Americans and in Russian language classes taught by a Ukrainian that had emigrated to USA recently. This was even printed on maps in geography books. Further, my uncle-in-law had emigrated from Ukraine in the early 1900s and told me the same things in the late 1960s. I was told by teachers, books, and 2 native Ukrainians and heard it on TV news many times, so White Russia and Ukraine and Belarus were 100% used here interchangeably; whether right or wrong use of the names, all through the 1960s. I saw no change in old college text books to new editions on this matter until the late 1970s. In 1960s America, the 3 were the same, at least in my region.

All the recipes were taught to me by Ukrainians and Polish friends as well, so probably vary from Belarus style a little. I find many variations of a single recipe usually across nations of Eastern Europe and on into the former USSR nations, so it's very interesting. My second major and degree in undergrad school was Russian Language/culture so I always want to know more.

I'll link your Hub on Belarus to this one for additional background when you have it completed. Thanks!


Granny's House profile image

Granny's House 5 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

Patty, i am polish and grew up on potato cakes. Love them. Also stuffed cabbage

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