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Ukrainian Traditional Recipes

Updated on November 2, 2012

Ukrainian Cuisine

Ukrainian traditional cuisine is rich in various delicious and truly unique dishes. But if you ask me which of the national Ukrainian dishes I would recommend you to try to understand the specifics of of my country's cuisine, it won't take me long to answer. I would advise you to try a few most popular dishes, the recipes of which I will share with you below.

But before I proceed to the recipes, I want to notice that almost every Ukrainian national dish has several variations of cooking: it depends mostly on the region and the ingenuity of a woman who cooks this dish. So, let's do it this way: I will give you a classic (basic) recipe for each of the chosen dishes and then I will share with you my own secrets. So... shall we start?

Ukrainian Golubtsy (Staffed Cabbage Rolls)

Image Credit: hslim.ru


It is believed that this dish was borrowed by Ukrainians from Turkey or somewhere else and there are argues about its real origin. But I assure you: today golubtsy is definitely one of the favorite dishes in Ukrainian cuisine, as well as in my house. Therefore, I dare to make this dish come first in my list of traditional recipes.

Ingredients:

- 1 head of cabbage;

- 1 pound ground beef (or pork);

- 3/4 cup rise;

- 2 medium onions;

- 1 medium carrot;

- 1 large egg;

- 3 tbsp sour cream;

- 2 tbsp tomato paste;

- vegetable oil;

- salt (to taste);

- black pepper (to taste).

Directions:

1. First of all prepare your cabbage leaves: they should be boiled for 2-4 minutes to become soft enough so you can wrap the stuffing. Since it is hard to separate cabbage leaves without damaging them, it is better to put the whole cabbage in a large saucepan with boiling water and periodically remove the upper leaves when they become semitransparent (but not too soft, otherwise they will tear at a touch). Keep ¾ cup of cabbage broth for the sauce.

2. Let the leaves cool down and then carefully cut off the hard parts at the base of each leaf (they can be too "sturdy" to let leaves roll up).

3. Cook the rise for about 10 minutes (it must be undercooked). You can do it either in a saucepan or a rise cooker, setting up the "undercooked" mode (I use GGG Reiskocher).

4. Chop the onions finely.

5. Grate the carrot.

6. Mix ground beef, half of the chopped onions, boiled rice and an egg in a bowl. Add salt and ground pepper to taste. Mix it well. The stuffing is ready.

7. Put some stuffing on one side of the cabbage leaf and tightly "swaddle" it so there are no open sides and the stuffing is securely wrapped.

8. Place the rolls into a saucepan and add a cup of water.

9. Take a skillet, add some vegetable oil and another half of chopped onions. Fry the onions, constantly stirring, until it gets golden color. Add the grated carrots and stir for 3 minutes.

10. Add the tomato paste to onions and carrots and keep, stirring, at low heat for another minute.

11. Mix sour cream with cabbage broth in a separate bowl. Stir well to avoid lumps. Add the mixture to the vegetables and stir. Add a bay leaf and salt to taste. If the sauce seems to be too thick, dilute it with some water.

12. Pour the sauce on cabbage rolls, cover them with a lead and simmer for 30 minutes at a low temperature.

13. Serve golubtsy with the vegetable sauce and/or sour cream.

My hints:

- If you are a vegetarian, you can use cooked and ground mushrooms instead of meat.

- As a variation - add some shredded cheese into the stuffing of your golubtsy.

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Ukrainian Vareniki (Stuffed Dumplings)

Image Credit: .horlytsia.com


Vareniki is one of the most popular Ukrainian dishes.

Ukrainian women have been cooking vareniki for a long time, using various fillings. The most common fillings are made of cottage cheese, cabbage, boiled mashed potatoes. But there is a variety of other great fillings like cherries, blueberries, strawberries, poppy seeds, apples, cranberries, liver, boiled and crushed dried fruits and what not! After diving you the classic recipe of the daugh for Ukrainian vareniki, I'm going to tell you how to make a few most popular variants of the filling.

Dough Recipe for Ukrainian Vareniki

Ingredients:

1 cup curdled milk (can be substituted by whey or yogurt)

½ tsp salt

½ tsp soda

1 egg

wheat flour

Directions:

1. Beat up an egg with salt in a bowl. Add curdled milk (yogurt or whey) and mix.

2. Mix soda with a cup of flour, add it to the curdled milk mixture and stir well with a spoon.

3. Continue adding flour (half a cup at a time) and stirring. When it is hard to use a spoon, start kneading the dough with your hands and continue adding flour until the dough is smooth and stops sticking to your hands. But make sure the dough is soft and elastic, too much flour can make it hard.

4. Form a ball of the dough, cover it with a tea towel or plastic wrap and put aside. Let the dough "rest" for 10 minutes.

Forming Vareniki:

1. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 parts (it is easier to work with smaller pieces).

2. Take one piece of the dough (keep the rest covered) and form a long "sausage" about 1,5 inches thick.

3. Cut the dough "sausage" into small pieces (not thinner than an inch) and powder them with flour, so they don't stick together.

4. Flatten each piece of the dough and roll it up with a rolling pin (try to attain round shape). Don't make them too thin (at least 1/4 inch thick).

5. Put some filling in the middle of each piece of the dough and form a varenik by folding it in half and sticking the ends together. You can go either from two sides toward the center or from one side to another one. The video below may help you to understand this process better.

6. Drop the vareniki into slightly salted boiling water in a large saucepan and stir periodically not to let your vareniki stick together. After they come to the surface, cook them for a few more minutes.

7. Take your vareniki out of water with a skimmer and put them in a bowl with some melted butter. Stir them carefully to cover each one with melted butter in order to avoid sticking together.

My hints:

You've made real Ukrainian vareniki if:

- You didn't use water instead of curdled milk or yogurt to make the dough (if you did, you have Russian-style vareniki or Polish pierogi).

- You didn't knead the dough for too long (the dough for vareniki doesn't like long processing - if you knead it for too long, it will become too hard).

- You didn't roll the dough too thinly (otherwise vareniki are not soft and puffy after being cooked, as real Ukrainian vareniki should be).

- Your vareniki grew in size during cooking.


Mashed Potato Filling Recipe

Ingredients:

- 5 or 6 medium potatoes

- 2 tbsp butter

- 2 large onions

- 2 tbsp vegetable oil

- salt and black pepper to taste

- dill (optional)


Directions:

1. Peel the potatoes and cook them in salted water until soft.

2. Drain the potatoes and mash them, adding some ground black pepper and butter.

3. Chop the onions and cook them on a hot skillet with vegetable oil until golden-brown.

4. Add half of the onions to mashed potatoes and mix. The filling is ready!

5. When your vareniki are ready - sprinkle them with the rest of the fried onions and chopped dill (if desired).


Cottage Cheese Filling Recipe

Ingredients:

- 1 lb cottage cheese

- 1 large egg

- 3 tbsp sugar

- vanilla

- sour cream for serving




Directions:

1. Mix cottage cheese with an egg, sugar and a little bit of vanilla. That's so simple!

2. If your cottage cheese is too crumbly, you can add some melted butter to the filling.

3.Serve these vareniki with cold sour cream.


Cherries Filling Recipe

Ingredients:

- 1 lb cherries

- 1 tbsp corn starch

- sugar

- sour cream for serving





Directions:

1. You can choose to stone the cherries or use them with stones.

2. Powder the cherries with starch.

3. Put 4 or 5 cherries in the middle of the rolled dough piece and add about 1/3 tsp sugar and form vareniki.

4. This vareniki can be sugared (if you like) and served with sour cream.

How to Make Vareniki - Have a look at this short video tutorial

I chose this video so you could see the way how to form vareniki with nice "curly" edges (such edges will prevent your vareniki from opening in the water). BUT! I don't recommend rolling the dough so thinly as on the video if you want real Ukrainian vareniki . This is not the Ukrainian way.

Ukrainian Borsch (Beet Soup)

Image used under Wikimedia Commons from Brücke-Osteuropa


It is hard to imagine Ukrainian cuisine without borscht, just as well as Italian cuisine without pasta. This is perhaps the most traditional Ukrainian dish of all that I have presented here. If you could visit ten Ukrainian homes and try borsch in each of them - you would realize that you experienced ten different flavors. Even if all Ukrainian women cooked borscht according to the similar recipe, each borsch would still have some specific taste. What an unusual dish! Well, let me show you the way I cook it for my family.

Ingredients:

- 1,5 lb meat (preferably pork ribs)

- 2 or 3 medium potatoes

- 1 large beet (or 2 smaller ones)

- 2 medium onions

- 2 medium carrots

- 2 tbsp tomato sauce

- 2 tbsp sour cream (+ extra for serving)

- 1/2 of a medium cabbage head

- salt and black pepper to taste

- 1 bay leaf

- parsley for serving


Directions:

1. Put the meat into a large saucepan, add cold water and cook it at medium heat for about 40 min. Don't forget to remove the scum with a skimmer. If the water boils away, add some more boiled water (there should be no less than 3 quarts of bouillon).

2. Wash the beets, put them in a separate saucepan (do not peel), add some water (just enough to cover the beets) and cook them for 30 min. Take the beets out of water and leave to cool down.

3. Shred the cabbage. Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes.

4. Put potatoes and cabbage in the meat bouillon and continue cooking at low heat for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes and cabbage are soft.

5. Meanwhile heat vegetable oil in a stewing pan, add the finely chopped onions and fry stirring until they get golden color.

6. Shred the carrots and the boiled beets and add them to the onions. Mix and add tomato paste and sour cream. Stew the vegetables for 10 min at low heat.

7. Add the mixture from your stewing pan to the saucepan with potatoes and cabbage, add the bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste and cook for 5 more minutes.

8. Turn off the heat and let your borsch "rest" for at least half an hour.

9. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley right before serving. Serve with sour cream and garlic bread.

My hints:

- Do not cook your borsch longer than 5 minutes after adding the beet mixture, otherwise it will lose its rich color.

- Borsch will taste better if you cook meat in one piece. It is better to cut it into smaller pieces right before serving.

- If you like your borsch to taste more sour, you can add a tomato (cut into cubes) a few minutes before the end of cooking.

- Ukrainian borsch tastes MUCH better on the next day after cooking. It is true. Ask any Ukrainian and you'll see ))

Bon Appetit, or as the Ukrainians say: Smachnogo!

Have you ever tried Ukrainian traditional food?

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    • Ksushella profile image
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      Ksushella 5 years ago

      @delia-delia: Thank you for stopping by, d-artist. I'm happy to know that my recipes may be useful for you! Thanks for liking my lens and hope you will like your Borsch. Cabbage rolls are very popular in Russia and many other countries too (there are so many variants of cooking them), I want to try using mushrooms in my golubtsy filling next time - they say mushroom golubtsy are good.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

      Great recipes! My mom used to make Borscht soup, I miss it and now will make it for sure, this recipe is great. Also love making Cabbage rolls, I always thought Golubtsy was a Russian dish...Thanks for sharing!

    • Ksushella profile image
      Author

      Ksushella 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Do try if you have a chance, I'm sure you will like them. Thanks for stopping by and squidliking my lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've never tried Ukrainian food but would love to try the Stuffed Dumplings.

    • Ksushella profile image
      Author

      Ksushella 5 years ago

      @ClaireDavids: Zelenyj borshch is one of my favorites!

    • profile image

      ClaireDavids 5 years ago

      Yea, I've had a few including Borscht and Zelenyj borscht. I enjoyed them.

    • Ksushella profile image
      Author

      Ksushella 5 years ago

      @IYenForZen: Thank you, IYenForZen! Yes, Ukrainian Easter is a table full of food ))), and Golubtsy is often one of the favourite dishes on this table.

    • IYenForZen profile image

      IYenForZen 5 years ago

      Yes I have! My maiden name is Hnatusko and my mother used to make Golubtsy for my dad! I have also had an entire Ukrainian Easter breakfast with my grandparents. Great lens!!