Traditional Cuisine of Poland

Polish food often contains a lot of cabbage and potatoes and is definitely the kind of food that sticks to your ribs.
Polish food often contains a lot of cabbage and potatoes and is definitely the kind of food that sticks to your ribs.

If there is any cuisine that is known for being hearty, it's Polish food. Many Polish dishes contain eggs, cream, and meats making them very filling.

Chicken and pork are also commonly used in Polish cuisine, but aren't always the main part of the meal. Cabbage, mushrooms, and potatoes are considered staples in Polish kitchens as these ingredients are contained in a large number of Polish meals.

The food of Poland has a lot of outside influences from bordering countries such as Lithuania, Hungary, Belarus, Ukraine, and Germany. Elements of cuisine from Russia, Turkey, and even Italy can be found in Polish food because of historical connections Poland had with these countries.

Polish food is rich and delicious and full of reminders of how life was lived in Poland over the centuries. There is something about a Polish meal that even makes a non Pole's mouth water! Read on to learn more about what Polish cuisine has to offer and, as the Polish would say, Jedzcie, pijcie i popuszczajcie pasa! (Eat, drink, and loosen your belt!)

Chodnik is a cold coup made from beets. This dish closely resembles the Russian soup known as borscht.
Chodnik is a cold coup made from beets. This dish closely resembles the Russian soup known as borscht.

Starting Off: Polish Soups

Most meals in Poland start off with a soup of some sort. Perhaps the most commonly discussed soup of Poland is czernina, which is made from duck blood. This sweet soup was featured in an episode of "Bizarre Foods" but is actually a quite common and delicious soup that can even be found in many Polish restaurants in America.

Chłodnik is another popular soup in Poland which is made from beets, cucumbers, and dill. This cold soup is similar to borshch as it has a red or pink color (depending how much milk is added to the soup.)

As the usage of mushrooms in Polish cuisine is commonplace, there are also soups that are made from a variety of mushrooms. Zupa grzybowa is one such soup that can be made from a variety of mushrooms depending on what the cook desires or what is available during a particular season. Another popular soup in Poland is żurek which is made from soured rye flour and meat.

Pierogi can be either boiled or fried. The best pierogi doesn't come out of a box.
Pierogi can be either boiled or fried. The best pierogi doesn't come out of a box.
Cabbage rolls are a "must try" part of Polish cuisine.
Cabbage rolls are a "must try" part of Polish cuisine.

Polish Main Dishes

The main course is the most important part of the meal. Food in Poland is highly regional, but there are many dishes that are used as a main course all over Poland. Some of these dishes are even popular outside of Poland as many former Poles have introduced these dishes to the new regions in which they live.

Pierogis
are perhaps one of the most widely known and loved of Polish dishes. These stuffed dumplings can contain a variety of different things and are really quite a versatile dish in that it can be made sweet and stuff with fruits or even chocolate or, more commonly, contain something more suitable for dinner such as meat, sauerkraut, mushrooms, or potatoes.

Bigos
is another popular dish, made up of sauerkraut and meat. If you've tried choucroute before (a really popular French dish which you have to try,) this is very similar, but it is not quite as acidic.

My favorite Polish dish is Gołąbki which is cabbage rolls (my dad makes the best.) It is basically just seasoned meat and rice wrapped in boiled cabbage leaves and then baked with a really light tomato-ey sauce. Many recipes also contain mushrooms and other types of stuffing. Cabbage rolls are a traditional Polish recipe, but many people in neighboring countries make a variation of this wonderful dish.

Placki ziemniaczane are potato pancakes which absolutely delicious, but probably very bad for you. These are made from grated potatoes or sometimes mashed potatoes (which is how I prefer it) and are fried in a frying pan with butter. Some people eat these with applesauce on the side which is a nice way to sweeten up the dish, but I enjoy this with sour cream.

This is what Polish sausage looks like (uncooked.) Yummy!
This is what Polish sausage looks like (uncooked.) Yummy!

Kielbasa and Polish Sausage

Sausage is a very important part of Polish fare and no hub on Polish food would be complete without the mention of Polish sausages. Kiszka (from a popular polka "Who Stole the Kishka") is a very popular sausage in Poland and can also be found in areas of the US where there is a large number of Polish immigrants. This sausage is made from a variety of different meats but also contains either grains or, more commonly potatoes.

Being from an area of the US that is heavily populated with Polish people (South Bend, Indiana,) we can buy a sausage in supermarkets that is just called "Polish sausage." It contains yummy ingredients like garlic and marjoram and is very popular at picnics where it is served instead of, or alongside bratwurst.

This sausage can be hard to obtain if you do not live in this area. Some people just call it kielbasa, but the word kielbasa doesn't mean a specific type of sausage, it just means "sausage" in general.

If you would like to try ordering this sausage online or would like to check your local supermarket for, it's important to know that it doesn't look remotely like the stuff Eckrich makes. It looks more like bratwurst, but is paler. Even though it can be difficult to find, it is worth it as it is 10 times yummier than bratwurst and a billion times better than Eckrich!

Mazurek (or Mazurka) is a beautiful, delicious, flat cake made from ingredients similar to that of kolaczki.
Mazurek (or Mazurka) is a beautiful, delicious, flat cake made from ingredients similar to that of kolaczki.
Kolaczki are wonderful butter cookies made with a fruit or cheese filling.
Kolaczki are wonderful butter cookies made with a fruit or cheese filling.

Polish Desserts

Polish food is absolutely wonderful with the delicious soups and filling main dishes but is not complete without the amazing desserts that are what makes Polish cuisine so famous among non-Poles. Polish cuisine is full of cookies and cakes that are to die for. There are many different recipes for different tastes when it comes to dessert so anyone will enjoy a Polish sweet treat.

Kolaczki are perhaps one of the most popular desserts from Poland. These are folded cookies that contain a fruit filling (usually apricot) or a sweet cheese filling and then are lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

Traditionally, these delicious cookies were served at Christmastime, but are now a year round treat. Kolaczki are best fresh, so it is best if they are homemade or if you are in a Polish area you can buy them in local supermarkets.

Mazurka/mazurek is not only a Polish folk dance, a sparrow, or someone from Mazur, but it is also the name of a wonderful flat cake. This cake is made from similar ingredients as kolaczki, but is rolled flat. Like kolaczki, Mazurka also contains jam, but usually contains more than one type of jams in one cake. These jams are used to add a delicious fruity flavor to the cake and serve as the décor.

Babka is a delicious yeast cake that is shaped like an angel food cake. Babka is known for being an Easter dish. Babka is often made with raisins mixed in the dough and contain a fruit topping, but more and more cheese or chocolate babkas are being made (because everyone loves a chocolate babka!)

As you've probably noticed, Polish meals are full of calories, but what is gained in calories is made up for in the wonderful flavors that are a part of Polish food.

There are many ways to get a hold of good recipes for Polish food. If you live in a predominantly Polish area such as Chicago or Detroit it should be no problem finding a good Polish recipe. Polish food is very popular and thus there are some really good cookbooks that contain some amazing Polish recipes.

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Comments 17 comments

Monis Mas profile image

Monis Mas 4 years ago

You just made me so hungry. I love polish food, it's so different from other cuisines. Pretty simple, but flavorful! Golabki, placki ziemniaczne i nalesniki (creps) are one of ma favorites!


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

Poland is one country I've been curious about for a while. It has an amazing history - thanks for sharing some information on its cuisine! Voted up and interesting.


dablufox profile image

dablufox 5 years ago from Australia

Some really yummy polish dishes. I miss my Nanna's Pierogi. She made about five types altogether, sauerkraut and speck bacon, quark cheese and my all time favorite, veal. Also I love the Ponchki' and poppy seed cake.

Loved your hubpage, brings back memories!


Monisajda profile image

Monisajda 5 years ago from my heart

Thanks again for hub on Polish food. I became quite hungry while reading it. Off to cook some bigos.


melbel profile image

melbel 5 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan Author

Thank you all for the lovely comments! I didn't realize that so many people are interested in Polish food!


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

A lovely hub- I have been to Poland a few times and their cuisine is superb although I think I was dining at the top of end of the market as there was less reliance on filling foods and more on presentation and taste. We were in one hotel and my son was offerred chocolate desert for breakfast- he ate it of course, much to my amazement


Loren's Gem profile image

Loren's Gem 6 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

Awesome! I've just learned what Polish foods really are and they just seem very appealing to my taste! Great hub and congrats on the win! :-)


wearing well profile image

wearing well 6 years ago from Lancashire U.K.

Well done and Congratulations. Wow what a vibrant colored soup!I love beetroot too:)


Purple Perl profile image

Purple Perl 6 years ago from Bangalore,India

Wow! Mouthwatering pics! I loved this hub! Thank you for sharing! And congrats!


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Congrats, on the win! And I agree with Misha, we need a "yummy" button to push. :) Not sure about the purple looking soup, however everything else looks great. :)


M.s Fowler profile image

M.s Fowler 6 years ago from United states

very nice


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

When I think polish, I think sausage! Congrats on a great hub and win! :)


melbel profile image

melbel 6 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan Author

Wow! Thank you everyone! I totally had no idea I won, I thought someone else won it! Pleased as punch right now!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Congratulations Melbel on your win. Great hub


PhoenixV profile image

PhoenixV 6 years ago from USA

congratulations!


Misha profile image

Misha 6 years ago from DC Area

They don't have a "yummy" button in the hub rating. I would have used it. But as it is, I just had to use "awesome" :)


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for such wonderful trip through Polish kitchens. I know Polish food legendary but it was never explained so clear to me.

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