Guest Post from Agness + Cez from Etramping
If you ever plan a road trip through Eastern Europe, then you will probably pass through Ukraine. Surrounded by Russia, Poland, Belarus, Moldova and Romania, it makes it a great destination to visit when driving a car or hitchhiking.
Ukraine is an enormous country when it comes to its population where its different parts have minor differences in culture and tradition. When looking for holiday advice online, you’ll be recommended to visit not only Kiev, Odessa or Lviv, but also such unknown gems as Chernivtsi and Carpathian mountains. What does it mean for a travel foodie? A diverse cuisine full of flavors and different influences!
Fellow travel bloggers, you’ve already met Agness and Cez, recently travelled across Ukraine by car and digged into some of the most delicious dishes Ukraine has to offer. Today they will be sharing with you their culinary journey so get ready for a real case of food envy!
Basics of Ukrainian Cuisine
Ukraine consists of many different cultures and traditions where the neighboring countries influence its cuisine. Depending on the region, there is a great variety of traditional dishes consumed daily and occasionally by locals. Also, the climate is delightful and when you combine it with an extremely fertile soil, then you get a country that has an enormous potential in growing their own food.
Ukraine currently focuses on producing and planting fresh vegetables such as potatoes, beets, cabbages and mushrooms so its cuisine is mainly based around them – from salads to soups with additions of meat or some seafood.
Knowing the basics of Ukraine food, let’s start with the most famous traditional dishes everyone should try.
If you’re a lover of soups, then you’ll love Ukraine’s traditional Borscht.
We know that many Eastern Europe countries have Borscht listed as their traditional dish, but the Ukrainian Borscht is very unique. Its main ingredient are sugar beets that color the soup and give a recognizable red color to it.
Also, this soup includes beets, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots which combined with local herbs make it extremely rich in flavours. Locals usually add some meat to it, mostly pork, to enrich the dish and get some protein in. In Ukraine, Borscht is often served with a spoon of sour cream on top for better texture and some richer taste.
#2 Chicken Kiev
Chicken Kiev is one of the most interesting traditional dishes you will ever try in Ukraine. These tasty chicken wings are rolled and wrapped in breadcrumbs and served with butter, seasonings and herbs on top.
In some places, you will get them served with different sauces based on sour cream. Note: be careful when cutting the wrap. It’s filled with hot butter you don’t want to spill all over yourself like Agness usually does.
If you’re a meat lover, then you will probably fall in love with this dish instantly. The original Shashlik is made of a lamb meat, but you can easily find some made of pork, beef, chicken or even vegetables. The preparation process is slow as it’s cooked on the barbecue, so you can expect a rich meat taste. This dish is usually topped with vegetables – mainly onions, cabbage, tomato – and served in a fresh bread and spicy sauces.
Shashlik is a perfect dish for anyone who loves meat. It will provide you with a high amount of proteins and amino acids. Just make sure you go to places where only fresh meat is served to avoid a food poisoning.
Vareniki are delicious Ukrainian dumplings filled with sweet or savory filling. If you’re already familiar with pierogi, traditional Polish dumplings, then you will know this dish very well. Vareniki are usually filled with meat, cabbage, nuts and fruits but you can also find the vegetarian ones filled with carrots, sauerkraut and mushrooms.
The portions are very small and Vareniki could be cooked or boiled, both will give you an exciting mix of tastes. It usually comes served with herbs and some fresh vegetables on the side that you can top with sour cream. We highly recommend you to try Vareniki filled with cherry or mashed potatoes, our favourite ones that you can’t go wrong with.
Salo is quite bizarre, but very popular among locals. Foreigners could find it very strange, but if you’re seeking for new experiences, then you should give this dish a try.
It’s a food consisting of cured slabs of fatback (rare pork belly), with or without skin and it’s served on a piece of homemade bread with some chopped vegetables – onions, cucumber and tomatoes. It goes exceptionally well with fresh garlic and it’s often served as an appetizer in local restaurants. Well, it doesn’t sound very appetizing but trust us, it’s a very tasty snack you have to try in Ukraine.
What’s your favorite Ukrainian food and which food would you recommend travelers to try during their visit?
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