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Russian cuisine

Russian cuisine

Russia is a huge and multi-national country, so Russian cuisine is a kind of a melting pot for different national cuisines. Russian, Ukrainian, Siberian and Caucasian traditions of cooking contribute a lot to a wonderful mixture generally known as Russian cuisine. Russians like to cook and a rich table consisting of several courses served one after another is a corner stone of any Russian party. 

Russian food is famous for its meat dishes especially for beef a la Stroganoff  and cutlets, kasha (porridge), pirogi (pies), different fish (including delicacy sturgeon and sterlet). Soups have always played an important role in the Russian meal which is reflected in the proverb “Shchi and kasha is our food”. Traditional Russian soups and stews include ukha (soup made from 3 sorts of fish), shchi (cabbage soup), pokhlyobka (thick broth), borsch (broth, beets, and tomatoes with various vegetables) and okroshka (summer-time cold vegetable soup). Shchi has two traditional ways of preparing. They can be either “hearty”, made with several kinds of meat and various vegetable or “light” made with no meat, only with cabbage, onions and potatoes. Especially good are “Round-the-clock shchi” which were held 24 hours in the oven (originally — in the Russian furnace) to get the full and rich taste. Kasha is usually cooked from buckwheat, rice, pearl-barley, and lentil. Smetana (a heavy sour cream) is often added to soups, salads and native types of pancakes like bliny and syrniki. Bliny are unbeatably great with fresh-salted salmon or red caviar. Popular salads include the Russian salad, vinaigrette, “Dressed herring”. Black tea, sometimes with sugar and lemon, is good with pirozhki (pies filled with meet or rice and egg or mushrooms or cabbage or various fruit jams). Kvas (bread-based refreshing non-alcoholic beverage) and mors (berry juice) are traditional Russian beverages. Vodka seems to be inseparable synonym in describing Russian parties and along with Kalashnikov and Sputnik is one of the Russian words known in all over the world.

The most famous Siberian food is pelmeny — very tasty small pieces of meat (traditionally a mix of elk meat, beef and pork)  wrapped in dough and boiled. There are different versions of Siberian pelmeny in Ukrainian, Belorussian, Tatar and China cuisines. Pelmeny are related to Ukrainian vareniki, Chinese jiaozi, Turkish and Kazakh manty, Caucasian khinkaly, Italian raviolli. The main difference between pelmeny and other kinds of dumplings is in their shape, size and thickness of the dough shell. Typical pelmeny are roughly spherical and have about 2–3 cm in diameter, with as thin dough shell as possible. Pelmeny were particularly favored by Siberian hunters, who were looking for light, easy-to-prepare, nourishing food to take with them frozen on long hunting trips in the winter. Pelmeny can be kept frozen for long periods of time with little loss of quality or flavor, and the water they are boiled in is useful for making soup. Packed frozen, pelmeny can be found in Russian food stores and elsewhere in the world where Russian communities exist.

Caucasus essentially contributed to Russian cuisine with shashlyk.  This is another word for Turkish Shish-kebab and means the way of preparing marinated meat on a grill with a help of a skewer. Shashlyk originates from the Caucasian Mountain Tribesmen and became popular all over Russia after the conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century. Preparing of shashlyk is basic cooking activity of Russian outdoor parties and picnics. The original dish consists of marinated cubes of lamb, pork or beef roasted on a skewer with onion, tomato or egg-plant. Modern versions of shashlyk may refer not only to meat but to any piece of fish or even vegetable cooked over an open fire. Traditionally shashlyk is accompanied with a glass of red wine or a shot of vodka, cold sparkling drinks like Coca-cola and others are not desirable.

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