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Our Guide to the Best Traditional Russian Food to Try!

With the arrival of the World Cup, thousands of people will be descending on the world’s biggest country to scream their lungs out in support of their home teams. Being a full-time supporter is a full-time job. And, that requires heaps of energy. If you’re running on empty and your belly’s growling how are you going to lead the chants? Or, get a Mexican wave going around the stadium? You won’t be able to. You’ll be weak at the knees, pallid, a shadow of your full footballing fan self and that simply won’t do. But, it doesn't have to be that way, there is so much traditional Russian food you could be enjoying and using as fuel to fire you up. So, read on, salivate and kiss goodbye to low blood sugar. Here’s a list of some of the best popular Russian food you could enjoy out with friends or at home watching a football match.


Borscht, eaten and beloved throughout all of Eastern Europe, is a staple soup dish of Russian food culture that exists in many deliciously beautiful forms. Ukrainians make the strongest claim to its invention, tracing it as far back as the 14th century. At a stretch, you could describe the soup as a quasi-gazpacho. Except, instead of the central ingredient being tomatoes, it’s beets. Borscht comes both hot and cold. In the winter is a hearty meal, packed with meat and cabbage and served alongside thick-cut slabs of black bread. And, In the summer months, served cold, it is a refreshing, light meal that’s deep in flavor. Get your spoons at the ready.


Where would a list about traditional Russian food be without a mention of Stroganoff? Stroganoff exists on the global stage now. You’re Mum, Dad, lifelong partner, or whoever takes charge of the stove at home probably knows how to make this. It is a popular Russian food. If you’ve never heard of it, you need to get more. But, in short, stroganoff is a saucy beef dish. Named after the 19th century, celebrity count, Count Stroganoff, this dish was hugely popular in the 1970s. It’s made using cheap cuts of beef that are then sauteed and covered in a creamy sauce that generally consists of sour cream. Although not always done, now, people serve it over over pasta or with white rice. It’s delicious, hearty a staple of Russian meals you must try.

Russian Salad / Olivier Salad

Russian Salad is another typical Russian food that’s made it big across the world. You can find it in Spain as tapas under the name “ensaladilla Rusa.” This most delicious of little Russian dishes can be both meal or snack. Think potato salad, only with carrots, peas, pickets, capers and either tuna, chicken or beef. The original recipe comes from a Belgian chef who ran a fancy restaurant in Moscow called “Hermitage.” His name was Lucien Olivier, so naturally, he named after himself. While what you get served to you today doesn’t quite resemble the original recipe, which called for the inclusion of gourmet ingredients such as caviar, Russian salad is delicious.


For those of you with a sweet tooth, what about some Russian desserts? Blini are a traditional Russian food very similar to France’s crepes. However, these thin pancakes are, unlike crepes, made with yeasted dough. This makes them much lighter. Blinis began life over a thousand years ago. The old pagan tradition of Maslenitsa, the sun festival, celebrated the arrival of spring and the end of another brutal, Russian winter. The belief was that a delicious batch of blinis cooked up for the celebration would welcome in a good harvest. You can slather your blinis with sweet or savory toppings. Lemon, and sugar, cream cheese, smoked salmon, red caviar, and jam to name just a few.


If you’re heading to Ekaterinburg for the FIFA World Cup 2018, then be sure to sample some of these savory delights when your there. Pelmeni are an ancient and very traditional Russian food. Although widely agreed that Pelmeni originate from Siberia, they are a huge part of Russian food culture and enjoyed, in various forms, throughout the country and wider Eastern Europe. Essentially, Pelmeni are dumplings, originally prepared for hunters embarking on long hunting expeditions into the Siberian wilderness. Fillings consist of minced meat (pork, beef, lamb) and various spices including garlic, black pepper, and onions. They are soft, doughy and melt in your mouth delicious.


For the carnivores out there, let me introduce you to shashlik, or barbecued meat served on skewers. This popular Russian food will be familiar to everyone. What are they? Deliciously fatty chunks of lamb, pork or beef meat. And, mouthwatering thick cuts of pepper, sweet onion, and tomatoes all grilled over an open fire on metal skewers. This is a feature on many a Russian menu. And, a perfect option for a quick, delicious meal made all the better served up with some ice cold Baltika beers. Shashlik generally comes with flatbreads and various sauces. The pomegranate sauce, when slathered on the various meats, is astonishingly good.


Enjoyed in the summer, Okroshka is a typical Russian food. And if you’re traveling to the country for the FIFA world cup 2018, make an effort to try some. Okroshka will, to many, seem a strange dish. Take the ingredients of a Russian salad (boiled potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, spring onions) add in either beef, sausage, ham or veal and then pour kvas over the top. Kvas, for those who do not know, is a popular drink made from fermented black bread. The result is a perplexingly wonderful delight. Okroshka retains the refreshing quality of kvas and the lightness of a salad which is why it is the ideal summer dish. Not only is it a traditional Russian food, but it is also one unique to the country. So, grab a bowl on a hot afternoon before you head to the football.

Herring Under a Fur Coat

Purportedly the invention of Russian pub owner, Anastas Bogomilov, Herring Under a Fur Coat is not a meal for the faint-hearted. Bogomilov’s pub, often destroyed by the vodka-fueled fisty-cuffs of drunken patrons, tasked his chef with designing a dish that would soak up the booze-swilling around in his customer's bellies. Herring Under a Fur Coat was born and is essentially a salad that consists of herring, potatoes, beets, and mayonnaise. It’s hearty and filling and a favorite during Russian new year.


Last, but certainly not least, the practical, on the go, always great Pirozhki. Imagine a mini pie, a deliciously filled bun, and you’ve pretty got the gist of what this is. The pirozhki exists not just across Eastern Europe, but the world in various forms. They make a great snack or a meal unto themselves. Delicious dough encases tasty fillings that range from spiced meats and fishes to fruits and other sweets. You can’t go wrong with that.

Which is the Best Russian Food?

Well, we will leave that for you to decide. However, food is one of the areas where imagination simply won't do. So, don't just imagine what do Russians eat, taste it for yourself! Since Russian food culture is diverse and rich in flavor, you can be sure to come across a dish that will disarm your taste buds. 

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