How many meals are there in a day for Russians? Well, three, just like how the rest of the world commonly have them. First, there’s breakfast around seven or eight in the morning before other activities begin; work, school, chores, and more. Russians usually have kasha – buckwheat porridge, butterbrots – sandwich, eggs, tvorog – a kind of cheese, or cereal for breakfast. As for the drink, they like coffee, tea, or juice to start the day with. The second meal, they call is lunch or dinner, is had around two in the afternoon. This is the main meal for Russians where most of them have a full-course meal with appetizer, main course, and dessert. Restaurants and cafes also offer lunch specials during this hour. They usually start with soup, followed by pasta or potato for main course, and then wrap the lunch with kompot – fruit-infused water, a slice of cake, or a bowl of ice cream. The last meal, could be dinner or supper, is had in the evening around seven or eight.
So Russians do eat three times a day, but how about the food? Every country has its own traditional and signature dishes that they eat on daily basis. These dishes are very much influenced by history, custom, and geographic position. Russian cuisine has its root from the Soviet Union. Now let us see the 6 common dishes Russians have to energize their daily activities.
This is a Russian traditional soup that can be served hot and cold, making it suitable for winter or summer days. Borscht is a rather “heavy” beetroot soup which basic ingredients include meat, potatoes, carrots, and tomato. The recipe varies from region to region across Russia, but the basic remains the same. A bowl of borscht should make you feel full and ready for anything the day has to offer.
The history of kasha is dated back from the Soviet Union era when food was scarce and buckwheat was the easiest source of food people could get. Amazingly, buckwheat is like super food because of its high nutritional value and it has helped Russians went through the hardest moments back in the day. Kasha is basically buckwheat porridge and had for breakfast. There are two ways to have a bowl of kasha; cook the seeds with water until fluffy then served with a dollop of butter, or pour some milk to a bowl of toasted buckwheat seeds the way you would have cereal then add some honey or fruit jam. Kasha is healthy, fulfilling, and delicious.
Although doesn’t seem appetizing, this traditional dish is surprisingly delicious. It is a nice way to learn not to judge a food by the way it looks. Served as appetizer, it takes seven hours to cook and another seven hours to chill for kholodets to get the right jelly texture before it can be eaten. Fresh meat is cut into cubes, boiled, and then chilled. The jelly comes from cow’s feet that are cooked together with the meat as broth. Seasoning is added for taste. You should definitely give this dish a try.
3. Beef Stroganoff
This one dish may sound more familiar to you because it has gained global popularity. Supposedly named after count Alexander Grigorievich Stroganoff, this Russian dish is a plate of sautéed pieces of sliced beef fillet, onions and mushrooms in white wine and served with smetana or sour cream. So good for lunch or dinner, beef stroganoff is usually eaten with rice, pasta, or mashed potato. Delicious!
4. Solyanka Soup
Russians do love soup. It has something to do with the weather that can get really cold during winter that can last up to eight months in a year, making it a perfect comfort food. There are three kinds of solyanka; meat, fish, and mushrooms. The main ingredient is the only thing that makes the difference, as for the taste is pretty much similar; spicy and sour. All of them contain potatoes, smetana, dill, cabbage, and pickled cucumbers with brine or salt solution. Solyanka may taste peculiar for them who are not familiar with it, but giving it a try would definitely enrich one’s palate.
5. Olivier Salad
This popular Russian dish is also named after its inventor; Lucien Olivier. He was a Belgian chef who worked at the Hermitage, the most popular restaurant in Moscow back in 1860s. The original recipe is a blur, but it is always a variation of potato salad. A classic version would include caviar, grouse, smoked duck, veal tongue and secret dressing. While the modern version is lighter with boiled potatoes, carrot, eggs, peas, pickles, and boiled chicken or beef with mayo dressing. This salad surely fits most people’s taste as the ingredients are quite universal.
6. Salted Herring
Known as seledka in Russian, this traditional dish is another one that may taste strange to foreigners. The process of making seledka is almost the same as in making pickles. Cleaned and sliced herrings soaked in liquid of salt, sugar and spices. Served as starter, seledka comes with rye-bread and sliced onion also accompanied by vodka. It can also be mixed in a bowl of salad together with diced boiled potatoes, carrots, eggs, onions and mayonnaise.
Have you ever tried any of the dishes above? If not, which one do you think you would like the most? These common Russian dishes, obviously, can easily be found everywhere across the country as they are consumed daily. But, some of them can be cooked almost everywhere around the world thanks to the all-round ingredients. If you ever have a chance to visit Russia, try its signature and traditional dishes for a complete traveling experience because the heart of a nation lies in the food it serves to the guests.