Russian food matters with Rima Kallingal and Aashiq Abu

Rima Kallingal and Aashiq Abu are in Russia. And her insta feeds are reeling with food, architecture, and scenic places in the country. “You got to love a country that takes their food seriously. The inside joke is that chicken is vegetarian for Russians. And then you realise it’s not really a joke,” she captioned one of her pictures that had Aashiq staring at a half plate of pizza. Under her pictures, typically there are interesting comments from her fans. In many countries like Europe, In Russia, France, Georgia, Armenia, and Germany, chicken stock is used to balance the flavor of vegetarian dishes. Pure vegetarian dishes can only be expected at Vegan restaurants.

Next time you are in Russia, we have a list of 11 of their traditional fare you should try.
Russia may not be the first to come to mind when you think of a food destination, but the country has plenty of delicious traditional dishes to try. Visitors in Russia are often surprised at the variety and flavors of Russian cuisine, which is influenced by Russia's connection to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The most classic Russian recipes are made of veggies and wheat, such as soups, porridges, and stuffed dough. Russian cuisine was also significantly enriched with recipes borrowed from neighbouring countries. For example, nomadic Tatars brought shish kebab, lamb dishes and bone broth to Russia. From Asia came various teas, halva from sunflower seeds, and dumplings. French sauces and desserts gradually entered the kitchen for the nobility.

Blini: Blini is a wheat pancake made with yeasted dough, giving them a light, fluffy texture and a distinctive tang and are rolled with a variety of fillings: jam, cheese, sour cream, caviar, onions, or even chocolate syrup. It is Russia's equivalent to a crepe. At any restaurant where you aren’t sure of any of the other dishes, blini are always a safe bet. Blinis are such an important part of Russian cuisine, a festival called Maslenitsa celebrates the beginning of spring with them.

Pelmeni: Considered the national dish of the country, it is impossible to imagine modern Russian cuisine without such a traditional dish as pelmeni, or dumplings. Many people debate about the origins of this dish as different countries around the world have their own adaptations of it. These are Uzbek manti, and Georgian khinkali, and Jewish kreplah, or Chinese xiaolongbao. Many believe that the recipe came into Russia from China via Siberia and Ural, back in the 15th century. In many families, it’s still a family tradition to sculpt dumplings together. These piping hot parcels of bite-sized goodness are made from unleavened dough, folded around a stuffing of ground meat (usually pork lamb, chicken, or beef), and flavoured with onion, garlic, pepper, and spices. They are then served in a large bowl with sour crème.

Beef Stroganoff (Beef with Sour Cream Sauce): This famous Russian food is one of the best-known contributions to family dinner tables across the western world – a classic comfort dish of sliced beef fillet, onion, and mushrooms, sautéed in white wine and sour cream sauce. There are countless variations on the recipe, some calling for the addition of tomato paste, mustard or paprika. This famous Russian dish has a fascinating story. Under the Tsars, the Russian upper class was super-wealthy. They were particularly fond of Paris, often kept apartments there, and communicated in French at home and social gatherings. Back in 1891, a French chef who worked for a wealthy St. Petersburg family created the dish for a cooking contest. He prepared sautéed pieces of beef served in a delicious sauce with smetana (sour cream). Beef Stroganoff, luxurious yet easy to prepare, became a signature dish with countless hostesses, and a headline entrée in upscale restaurants.

Syrniki: This is another take on pancakes, but are made from quark (cottage cheese), eggs, and flour. The simplicity and delicious taste of this recipe will make syrniki one of your favourite breakfast recipes. Crispy and golden on the outside and warm and creamy on the inside, syrniki are perfect to serve with sour cream, jam, honey, or fresh berries.

Medovik: Russian food isn’t all just meat! Desserts have a special place in Russian food culture as well. One particularly decadent pastry found all over Russia is Medovik (honey cake). This soft, sticky, crumbly and creamy cake looks impressive and tastes divine, made up of multiple layers (supposedly 15 is the ideal number) of ginger and cinnamon-spiced honeyed pastry, with sweetened sour cream and condensed milk sandwiched in between. .

Borscht: Borscht is a beetroot soup that actually originated in Ukraine and was quickly adopted as a Russian specialty as well. This soup has dozens of ingredients and can take up to 3 hours to prepare. It is full of meat and sautéed vegetables, including cabbage, carrots, onions, and potatoes. It can be served hot or cold and is best served with a dollop of fresh sour cream on top and special garlic bread called pampushka. For the full-Russian experience it’s accompanied with a black Russian sourdough bread Borodiksy, shaved frozen fat Salo, a clove of fresh garlic and a shot of ice-cold vodka.

Shashlik: Shashlik is a Russian take on a kebab, and like any kebab, it consists of cubed meat and veggies grilled on skewers. This dish comes from the Caucasian Mountain tribesmen and became popular after the conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century. Nowadays nearly every family has its own secret recipe for shashlik that is guarded closely. The key to success, however, lies in the marinade.

Kvass: First fermented more than a thousand years ago, kvass is hailed as one of the most refreshing soft drinks in Russia. Prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917, locals could not live a day without drinking kvass. Even Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, a famous Russian poet, said of Russians: “They needed kvass, the way they needed air”. The main ingredient of kvass is rye, which makes the leaven of the drink. If you ever get invited to a Russian lunch or dinner, the children will most likely be offered kvass, and you will be asked to taste okroshka, which is made with kvass. Visit a supermarket in Russia, and you’ll see so many flavors of kvass. Apple, white, and dark are just some of the many variations of this beloved Russian drink. However, if you want to taste the traditional drink, go for the dark kvass. Although it has a very slight alcohol content, it is not considered an alcoholic beverage. It is made from black or regular rye bread or dough.

Varenie: Russia’s landscape is full of rich forests, rivers, and mountain ranges. This geography makes parts of the country perfect for fruits and berries. Respectively, Russians have been taught for centuries to harvest efficiently. This allowed them to stockpile enough food during the bitter winters. When Russians go fruit and berry-picking (usually late May-early June), they always return with huge bags of juicy fruits and berries. With so much fruit, Russians came up with a very convenient solution to eat it – Varenie! Varenie is essentially a Russian jam. It’s been eaten for centuries and takes advantage of the diverse range of fruits and berries. Large pots are filled with berries and tons of sugar, which are then cooked and canvassed. Strawberries, cranberries, currants, apples… you name it! Varenie is made from all these ingredients. It’s perfect all year round, and it complements many Russian breads and other Russian staple foods.

Okroshka: Soups are the most popular lunch meals across the country and this is another Russian favourite. Okroshka is a cold soup that originated in the Volga region. It’s a mix of raw vegetables, boiled potatoes, eggs, and a cooked meat such as beef, veal, sausages, or ham with kvass, which is a non-alcoholic beverage made from fermented black or rye bread.

Kasha: Russians believe if you want your day to be a successful one, you should start it with a bowl of kasha for breakfast. Kasha is rich in fiber, potassium, and protein. Do try the buckwheat porridge. It is normally boiled in water or milk and can be an independent dish (often served with butter, sugar, or condensed milk), and can also be used as a side dish to eat in the afternoon. Buckwheat porridge is very healthy and is also one of the main dishes during the Orthodox fast. Kasha comes in many variations. Oats, millet, rye, wheat, barley, and buckwheat are all commonly used cereals, and some locals like to experiment with bulgur too. In Russia, children are encouraged to eat kasha from a young age, so that they grow tall and strong.

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