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14 In Food Envy/ Guest Posts/ Travel

Ukrainian Food You Should Definitely Try During Your Visit

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.

#1 Borscht

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.

#3 Shashlik

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.

#4 Vareniki

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.

#5 Salo

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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14 Comments

  • Reply
    agnesstramp
    November 20, 2017 at 1:30 am

    My mouth was melting when I was writing this post and now when I’m reading it once again 😀 🙂 YUMMY!!!!!! Thanks for having us here, Paige and hope you can make it to Ukraine soon to dig into Salo and Vareniki 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 20, 2017 at 8:21 am

      Thanks for taking the time to compose such an amazing post for me! My husband and I were both totally drooling. I’m really hoping to go to Ukraine next year and now I luckily have this amazing foodie guide to help me make my way through local foods!

  • Reply
    Peter Korchnak
    November 20, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    The Ukraine is a neighboring country to mine (Slovakia), and I have very distant relatives who live there. I remember eating the best borscht of my life there, long ago, so I was pleased to see it on this list. So so good.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 21, 2017 at 4:11 am

      That’s so cool! I’m hoping to make it to your home country, and Ukraine, next year! I’m glad to hear that the borscht has your stamp of approval!

  • Reply
    TravelTheGlobe4Less
    November 25, 2017 at 9:00 am

    These options look much better than I may have expected although I have yet to make it to Ukraine. I particularly like the look of the soup and had something similiar in South Korea earlier this year.

  • Reply
    Thomas Mathys
    November 26, 2017 at 12:01 am

    To be honest, I’ve never had any ukrainian food so far, but you really made me crave it with this article! Borscht is a dish I heard about before, but from my Polish friend. I know somehow already that I’d love the Chicken Kiev and Shashlik <3 The Salo sounds very interesting and I would really like to try it!

  • Reply
    Amelie
    November 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Not very vegan-friendly for me but that borscht in the bread bowl looks amazing OMG!!! I really wonder what it would be like to visit Ukraine as a vegan. Would love to go there!

  • Reply
    Brianna
    November 26, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    My favorite part of traveling is trying all the yummy foods in each destination. I’m a huge fan of dumplings and would be all over the vareniki, the mushroom ones sound delish!

  • Reply
    Kiyoko
    November 26, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks for all the great food recommendations! Would definitely love to try the Vareniki to see how they compare to pot stickers/perogis/gyoza, etc

  • Reply
    lucywilliamsglobal
    November 26, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    You have brought all my food memories back from when I was in Odessa! I love Borscht and Chicken Kiev! I have not tried Vareniki, but they look delicious!

  • Reply
    gastrotravelogue
    November 27, 2017 at 7:16 am

    I love borscht and chicken Kiev, but I had no idea that they were from the Ukraine. The vareniki are a lot like dumplings throughout Eastern Europe. They are delicious and a great snack to have with drink. Interesting read.

  • Reply
    Valerie Wheatley
    November 27, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    It was a pretty terrible idea for me to read your post while hungry – I’m quite literally salivating! I’ve always wanted to check out the Ukraine and since I absolutely love potatoes, beets, cabbages and mushrooms, I have a feeling the food scene won’t disappoint! I’ve never tried chicken kiev and even though I’ve seen it on more than a few menus, I had no idea what it actually was – of all of your recommendations it’s the one I have to try first. I’m going to have to grab a snack now!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    November 28, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    The presentation of the borscht is lovely, looks like the perfect hearty meal after a day of exploring. The chicken Kiev also looks delish!

  • Reply
    Christopher
    November 28, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    This is one part of the world that we’ve head a lot of a couple of years ago with regards to Russia and its high on go to list. That Chicken Kiev looks absolutely delicious but the you mentioned Shashlik and my favorite meat is lamb…The only thing your missing is beer? lol. What are the local beers?

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