Ukrainian Cuisine


Ukrainian cuisine isn’t the lightest type of cuisine, similarly to Polish cuisine. It is mostly rather fat and difficult to digest dishes. The most popular dishes are made from flour, groats and potatoes, often poured with sour cream or fat.


Ukrainian cuisine – the characteristics

The Ukrainian cuisine got its character thanks to the influence of foreign cultures. We can find a bit of taste and influence from Lithuania, Ormiania, the Tatars, Poland, Jews, and many similarities from Romanian and Moldavian cuisine. This is because of a quite complicated history of the country, and also because of the multicultural people living in Ukraine.


It’s also tough to talk about the homogeneous culinary tradition, because in the Ukrainian territory you can clearly see a strong regional separation. On the Crimea peninsula you can find influences from the cultures of the Tatars, Jews and Russian people. Their manifestations are filling up meat dishes from the Tatars’ cuisine, which are mostly made from lamb. The most characteristic dish from Crimea cuisine is plov – rice with meat and vegetables.


The largest influences from Romania can be found in Bukovina. This is the place where you can try Romanian and Moldavian hominy – densely cooked corn groats, which is characteristic for this region. It is usually served on a plate in a form of knolls shaped by the bowl, and it is carved with a thread. It is a perfect addition to the main dish, but it can also be served solo with greaves and spicy sheep cheese


Another region with quite characteristic culinary traditions is Lvov. This is the place where you can find the largest influences of Polish, Jewish and Ormianian cuisine. A popular place in town are cafes, which were the meeting place for international intelligence before the war. In the menu we can find polish sour soup, bogracz, and Lviv chitterlings.


Ukrainian cuisine – traditional dishes

In the Ukrainian cuisine the most worthy aspect is the naturalness of the products, which are in a lower degree enriched with numerous extra ingredients, preservatives, and chemicals compared to western countries. The dishes of Ukrainian cuisine are usually prepared independently, from natural and easily available products, bought at huge vegetable markets, often straight from the breeder or producer.


The manifestation of the naturalness of Ukrainian cuisine might be by-the-street “fast-foods”, which are far from kebab and hamburgers which can be found more and more often in Poland.

On the streets of Ukraine we can buy Cheburieki – a type of dumplings filled with meaty stuffing, mostly with lamb meat. We can also find a Babushka and buy bilashki/pierożki or watrushki – it is a type of yeast bulbs with sweet or spicy stuffing, fried on deep fat.

All these treats are served hot.


From flour dishes you can mention traditional cakes made on yeast leaven, which are called byliny in Russia. Their Ukrainian version – mlynci, is much thinner and more similar to pancakes. They are served with pieces of fish, meat or melted butter or sour cream. You can also try their sweet version with jam or sugar.


Another popular dish is warenyky, which are similar to our dumplings. They are stuffed with cottage cheese, potatoes, cherries, or meat. Both warenyky and mlynci are a traditional dish at the time of Masnyci – the week before the Lent, when meat dishes are forbidden.


When you’re in Ukraine, you should also try the popular spicy pickled tomatoes, which are just as popular as pickled cucumbers or cabbage in Poland.


Ukrainian cuisine – a traditional lunch

In Ukrainian cuisine most of the dishes are all kinds of soups. That’s why the traditional lunch usually contains two dishes


The no.1 soup among all Ukrainian people is of course the Ukrainian borsch. It is a decoction from red beetroot, with an addition of cabbage, carved potatoes and pieces of meat. It is served with a spoonful of sour cream. Sometimes it is served with beans and called the “czernihowski borsch” among the regional types of borsch you can mention


the red borsch – the most popular one in Ukraine

the green borsch – prepared using sorrel

the cold borsch – prepared and served in summer.


Another popular type of soup is meat, fish or mushroom brine. They are often complete with pickled cucumbers and cabbage. People often also serve cabbage soup or jushka – a dense soup prepared from fresh fish or meat and vegetables.


The soups are served with yeast buns, bread or halushki- small dumplings made from grated potatoes, flour and salt.


The second dish is usually based on meat dishes. Ukrainian people usually eat beef, pork, fish and also lamb. Among the popular dishes you can mention:


zarke – a dense beef stew with potatoes and peas, served in a pot wrapped up in bread

czanachy – often called a soup, although it is so dense, that it is more like a stew. It is made from a few types of meat, beans and vegetables.

Kruczenyky – slips rolled up from pork, stuffed with cabbage and bacon, often poured with vegetable sauce.

A Kiev cutlet, which is very similar to de volaille, but just with butter and without cheese and green vegetables.


A good topping for the second dish, just like in Poland, are all kinds of salads, including beetroot, herring and sometimes ozorki salad.


The most common lunch drink is fruit compote. Depending on the occasion most men drink vodka, and women can also try wine.


Since the 16th century the national Ukrainian drink is bread acid, which contains small amounts of alcohol made during fermentation of the bread, although it is considered an alcohol-free drink. It was made in traditional ways in many homes, but in the 19th century there were also factories producing bread acid. This drink perfectly quenches thirst, and that’s why in the summer you can very often buy it on the street straight from the barrel. It has a sweet-sour smell and the taste of freshly baked bread. On the bottom of the bottle you can find the natural precipitate, which quickly disappears after shaking the bottle. The real bread acid is good to drink for about 3-4 days.  

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