From Russia with food

Traditional Russian food is rich and stodgy peasant-fare from the village with a dash of French inspired creamy sauces. If you are wondering what that green grass stuff is, it’s dill (ukrop-укроп) and it usually finds its way into everything. Snacks (zakuski -закуски) are very popular and include all manner of pickled things (solyony-соленый ) and small open sandwiches (buterbrod-бутерброд).


Russians are big on soups and there are literally hundreds of different kinds of soups that you can find on a Russian menu. Russians often like to eat there soup with a spoon of sour cream in it.
Borsch – the quintessential Russian soup made from beetroots and beef. Can also be served cold.

Ukha (уха) – fish soup often made with salmon or trout.

Shchi (Щи) – cabbage soup usually containing many other vegetables and meat too.

Solyanka (солянка) – a heavy meaty soup with various chopped up sausages (kolbasa -колбаса) in it topped off with a slice of lemon and an olive.

Okroshka (окрошка) – a favourite summer soup made with boiled root vegetables, eggs, spam ham on a base of kvass (квас) (fermented bread drink) or kefir (кефир - soured milk).
Undoubtedly an acquired taste.

Rassolnik (рассольник) – based on rassol (рассол) (the sour brine taken from pickling vegetables) with barley grains, various vegetables and often pork or kidneys.

Lagman (лагман) – a Central Asian dish with thick noodles (lapsha -лапша), meat, herbs and spices generally served in a broth.

Kuriny bulyon (куриный бульон) – clear chicken broth sometimes served with a boiled egg or piece of boiled chicken floating in it.


Russian salads invariably have mayonnaise in them and are a permanent feature on holiday and celebratory tables.

Olivye (оливье) – the original Russian salad – boiled potatoes, carrots, peas and eggs, pickled Cucumbers with either spam ham (in its Soviet version) or something luxurious like lobster, sturgeon or crayfish (in its original imperial version). 

Stolichny (столичный) – the Olivye salad with chicken in it.

Selyodka pod shuboy (селедка под шубой) - the winner of the award for the strangest name, ‘Herring under a Fur Coat’ consists of layers of pickled herring, boiled potatoes and beetroot.

Venegret (венегрет) - boiled beetroot salad with onions, pickled cucumbers, boiled potatoes, carrots and, for once, an oil dressing.

Krabovy (крабовый) – Soviet era favourite made from crab sticks, hard boiled eggs, rice and sweetcorn.

Bliny (блины)

Pancakes, an indispensable part of Russia’s culinary tradition and come stuffed with sweet or savoury fillings limited only by ones imagination.
Typical savoury favourites; ham (vetchina-ветчина), caviar (ikra-икра), cheese (syr-сыр), mushrooms (griby-грибы), sour cream (Smetana-сметана), pate (pashtet - паштет) or boiled eggs (yaitsa -яйца) and cabbage (kapusta - капуста).
 On the sweeter side you can have it with jam or vareniye - варенье (chunky, sweet fruit preserve), honey (myod -мед), tvorog - творог (sweet Russian version of cottage cheese) or condensed milk (sgushonka - сгущенка).

Main dishes

Pelmeni (пельмени) – Boiled dumpling stuffed with meat and served with sour cream. Varenki (вареники) are the same but stuffed with vegetables or sweet fillings.
Uzbek versions (manty- манты) are slightly bigger and often steamed, while the Georgian version (khinkali - хинкали) are huge and eaten with the hands.

Beef stroganoff (бефстроганов) – an international favourite. Traditionally just beef and cream, now also often comes with added mushrooms. 

Gribnoi Julienne (грибной жюльен) – rich mushroom, butter and cream dish made on skillet.

Pirogi/pirozhki  (пироги/пирожки)– pies (usually made with bready yeast dough) stuffed with meat, cabbage, mushroom, fruits or even potato. Pirozhki  (пирожки) are the small versions that look like little buns.

Shashlik (шашлык) – shish kebabs coming usually in pork (svinoi - свиной), veal or chicken (kuriny - куриный) varieties fired up on long skewers over hot coals (mangal - мангал). 

Kotlety (котлеты) – little meat patties usually made with minced beef (govyadina - говядина) or pork (svinina - свинина). 

Frikadelki (фрикадельки) – Russian meatballs, similar to kotlety but rounder in shape, made with rice and meat and often served with a sauce.

Grechka (гречка) – buckwheat, served sometimes as a garnish or sometimes as a porridge (kasha - каша).

Draniki (драники) – fried potato pancakes (similar to the Swiss rosti), usually served with sour cream and smoked salmon.

Golubtsy (голубцы) – cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat. Also sometimes come in the form of a stuffed bell pepper.

Zharkoe (жаркое) – a stodgy and fatty meat stew.


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