Travel Europe

Europe Travel Guide: Before You Travel Europe, Consult 'Travel Europe'!

Traditional Belarusian Cuisine

In its development Belarusian cuisine has been influenced by the Russian, Lithuanian as well as Jewish, Tartars and some other traditions. We are not going to dedicate much time to history and will talk right away about the food.

Belarusians have preserved many traditional recipes.

General features:

  • Geographical location and weather conditions in Belarus resulted in a wide use of such products as forest mushrooms and berries, herbs, apples, pears, river fish and crab, milk products.
  • Belarusian cuisine is known for a big choice of potato dishes.
  • Various flour pancake dishes are popular in Belarusian cuisine.
  • Mushrooms are widely used in cooking but rarely as a separate dish and are mostly used to add taste to the main dish. Usually they are stewed or boiled.
  • Fish is also rarely fried and mostly baked, stewed or very often dried.
  • Belarusian cuisine is known for rich soups, often dressed with sour cream, as well as cold soups refreshing for the hot summer periods.
  • Marinated vegetables are widely used in Belarusian cuisine: marinated tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms etc. It is still traditional for Belarusian families to make marinated mushrooms and vegetables based on home recepies.
  • Meat: Belarusians eat lightly salted lard from pork to accompany boiled potatoes traditionally in winter. Pork is widely used in homemade sausages. Low fat pork and beef are mostly baked not fried. In traditional cuisine goose was widely used however nowadays it is mostly replaced by chicken.
  • Grated and pureed forms of products (meats, fish, potatoes, vegetables) are used in many dishes separately or in combination with each other. Forest berries, pears, apples are usually not mixed with each other: various jellies, kvass, purees, baked puddings are made from one type of berries or fruits but not a mix.
  • Cooking methods characteristic for the old traditional Belarusian cuisine are stewing and boiling. In the old Belarusian cuisine ingredients were subjected to a long heat cooking and would become very soft and often shapeless. This softness can still be observed nowadays in traditional cooking.
  • Finally present day cooking in Belarus is characterized by great creativity of combining the old traditional dishes with features of other world cuisines and mixing varieties of ingredients for example in creative rich salads.

    In this section you can find recipes for
    Belarusian Salads
    Belarusian Soups
    Belarusian Potato Dishes
    Belarusian Blini or Pancakes
    Belarusian Meat Dishes
    Belarusia Deserts

  • Belarusian Salads

    Belarusian salads are different than salads in the west. First, they tend to be quite creative as many unusual ingredients get mixed together. It is not unusal to find salads made of various nuts, fruits and meats. You will almost never be served a bunch of lettuce topped with 2 or 3 pieces of tomatoes.
    Second, the idea of a Belarusian salad is to get the mix of tastes of all the ingredients. That is why salad ingredients are cut into small squares or finely chopped or grated. The ingredients never come in big chunks. You will never use you knife when eating a salad in Belarus.
    Third, Belarusian salads tend to be quite rich. The salad dressing is usually mayonaise based, but it might also contain sour cream. Together with the finely chopped ingredients, the rich sauce blends the flavors together giving the salad a unique taste.

    Salad Fern Flower

  • 250 g ham (fatty) (and in some variants ham with boiled veal);
  • 3-4 pickled cucumbers;
  • 4-5 fresh tomatoes;
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar;
  • mayonnaise.

    Cut onion into rings, and marinate them for 2-3 hours in water with vinegar (mixed 3 to 1). Cut the meat, cucumbers and peeled tomatoes into long thin pieces. As soon as you are ready to serve, mix the ingredients together and season with mayonnaise. Keep all the ingredients separately till the last moment otherwise they will give juice.

    Belarusian Salad

  • 40 g dried white boletus mushrooms;
  • 200 g beef liver;
  • 200 g onions;
  • 2 pickled cucumbers;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 150 g Mayonnaise;
  • 3 tblsps vegetable oil;
  • pepper, dill, salt.

    Wash the mushrooms a couple times and put them into cold water to soak for 2-3 hours. Wash them again to make sure they have no sand. Boil the mushrooms. Fry the liver in a part of the oil, cool down and chop finely. Cut the boiled mushrooms. Chop finely pickled cucumbers, and 2 hard boiled eggs. Cut the onions and saute in vegetable oil, let it cool down.

    Join all the ingredients add salt and pepper to your taste and add mayonnaise.

    Minsk Salad

  • 4 potatoes;
  • 150 champignons;
  • 1 onion;
  • 150 g sour kraut;
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil;
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar;
  • sugar, salt.

    Boil potatoes and cut into small squares. Wash and boil mushrooms, let cool down and cut them. Chop the onion. Add together potatoes, mushrooms, sour kraut, onion and mix. Season with vinegar, oil a little bit of sugar and salt.

    Light Salad with apples and raisins

  • 200 g fresh cabbage;
  • 1 carrot;
  • 0.5 onion;
  • 2-3 apples;
  • 50 g raisins;
  • 1 tblsp vegetable oil (or light mayonnaise);
  • 1.5 tsp sugar;
  • salt.

    Shred the fresh cabbage and mix thoroughly with salt and sugar, let it take in the salt and sugar. Grate the carrot and apples (without cores). Finely chop the onion. Wash the raisins and dry with a towel. Mix the ingredients, add the salt and season with vegetable oil.

  • Belarusian Soups

    Holodnik (Cold Soup)

  • 80 g washed sorrel;
  • 1 boiled beetroot;
  • 100-150 g fresh cucumber chopped;
  • 50-100 g onion;
  • a small bundle of green spring onion (scallion);
  • 2 eggs;
  • 0.5 teaspoon of apple vinegar;
  • salt, sugar and sour cream to taste;
  • finely chopped dill.

    Cut sorrel into strips 0.5 cm wide cover with water and boil for 1 minute. Grate beetroot, cover it with 1 l of cold (previously boiled and cooled) water add chopped cucumbers, cut onion and sorrel together with the stock where it was boiled. Chop scallion and mix it with a bit of salt and add to the beetroot/sorrel mix. Add salt, sugar, sour cream, and vinegar. Mix well. You can either cut the egg and put it into holodnik or when serving put into each plate a half hardboiled egg, pour Holodnik. Add a tablespoon of sourcream and a sprinkle of finely chopped dill.

    Oatmeal Soup with Mushrooms

  • 400 g potatoes;
  • 100 g oatmeal;
  • 80 g dried mushrooms;
  • 80 g Carrots;
  • 100 g onion;
  • 40 g oil;
  • laurel leaf;
  • salt.

    Put dried mushrooms into water for 3-4 hours and then boil them using the same water. Add oatmeal and boil about 30 minutes then add chopped (in cubes 1cm x 1cm) potatoes. Add separately fried in oil chopped onion and grated carrot and add to the soup. Add laurel leaf. Boil till potatoes and oatmeal are soft.

    Serve with sour cream.

    Jur

    Jur is a very special unusual Belarusian soup. Its recipe goes back to the old traditional Belarusian cuisine. The basis of the soup is “oatmeal stock” that gives this soup a specific jelly consistency/texture and a specific souerish taste. There are several variants of this soup: Lenten, milk, meat jur. To cook jur you need first to prepare the basis.

    “Tseja” Jur Basis

    Take 150-200 g oatmeal flour (you can make it by grinding oatmeal flakes) and add it into 1 lt of warm previously boiled water. Store it in a non-metallic container such as earthware in a warm place for 8-12 hours. It should get a sourish taste and pleasant smell. Strain it to get rid of any lumps or oatmeal flakes. Now you have the Jur basis (tseja)

    Milk Jur

  • 0.75 lt Tseja (Jur basis);
  • 0.5 boiled (warm) milk;
  • 200 ml cream;
  • 250 ml water;
  • 100 ml sour cream;
  • 1 teaspoonful caraway;
  • 1 tablespoonful chopped dill;
  • 1.5 teaspoonful salt.

    Add caraway into boiling water and then slowly pour Jur Basis (tseja). Boil for 5 minutes then add dill and salt. Turn the heat off. Whip sour cream with milk and add to jur, mix well. Serve with boiled potatoes topped with melted butter.

    Meat Jur

  • 0.5 lt Tseja (Jur basis);
  • 1 lt water;
  • 200 g vyandlina – meat mix (50 g ham + 50 pork sausage + 50 smoked brisket + 50 g of smoked pork loin or lard);
  • 1 onion;
  • 2 turnips or rutabagas;
  • 2 carrots;
  • 0.5 parsley root;
  • 4 garlic cloves;
  • 1 tablespoonful of dill.

    Finely chop the meat. Cut turnips and carrots into big chunks. Boil the meat together with chopped onion, turnips and carrots. When the vegetables are ready, strain the stock (take out the vegetables and meat) and add the Jur Basis. Boil them together, add salt, garlic grated with salt and finely chopped dill. Add the meat mix to the stock again. Serve the boiled vegetables separately with potatoes topped with melted butter or lard.

  • Belarusian Potato Dishes

    Potatoes play a very important role in the national cuisine and are called “the second bread” in Belarus. This can be explained by history – potatoes were brought to Belarus about 75-90 years earlier than into Russia. Besides climate conditions in Belarus are very good for growing the types of potatoes that contain high level of starch, are tender and really delicious. Dishes from potatoes are used as the main dish or garnish.

    The most well known potato dish is draniki – pancakes from grated potatoes. Draniki come in many variants with various fillings such as mushrooms, meat, sour kraut, fish or with various toppings – creamy machanka (meat or mushrooms machanka), sour cream, cheese etc.

    Belarusian Draniki

  • 10-12 potatoes; 
  • 2-3 eggs; 
  • 3-4 tbl spoon of flour;
  • 1 onion;
  • 2-3 tablespoon sour cream;
  • oil;
  • salt to your taste.

    Grate potatoes and onion together, drain out excess potato juice. Whip eggs and mix everything with flour and sour cream. Put some oil on a pan and let it get hot. Put a small portion of the draniki puree on the pan and let it get golden fried from one side. Turn it over and fry it from the other side. Serve with sourcream or machanka.

    Belarusian Draniki with Pork

  • 250 gr of grated potatoes;
  • 3 table spoons of flour;
  • 1-2 eggs;
  • 100 gr ground pork;
  • 2 onions;
  • oil.

    Grate potatoes together with onions (so that potato mass does not get dark). Drain out excess juice. Whip eggs and add together with the flower to the potato mass. Warm some oil on the pan fryer and put a small portion of potato puree with a spoon. As soon as it starts to become a bit firm put in the center some ground meat and cover with another portion of potatoes. Fry it till it gets the fried golden colour and carefully turn it over to fry from the other side. You can also put ready pancakes into a clay pot, put sour cream on top and put into the warm oven for 10-20 minutes. This way they get shapelessness characteristic for traditional Belarusian cuisine.

    Kolduni

  • 800 g potatoes;
  • 1 egg for potato puree and 1 egg for the filling;
  • 100 g flour;
  • 50 g butter;
  • 400 g ground beef;
  • 100 g onion;
  • 200 g Sour cream;
  • pepper;
  • salt.

    Grate raw potatoes (to prevent from darkening you can add kefir), drain excess juice, add flour, 1 egg and mix.

    Ground the meet together with onion and add egg, salt and pepper.

    Make little pancakes from potato mass and put inside each ground meet. Put into the oven with butter and brush with sour cream. Bake till golden brown crust.

    Babka: Similar to Kolduni (see above) is Babka recipe. The difference is that you do not form pancakes but make one big layered-pie-type pancake.

    Ingredients are the same. Prepare potato dough as described above. Put 1 layer potato dough into a greased round form (skillet), cover it with a layer of minced meat and then add another potato layer, brush with sour cream. Bake in the oven till golden brown.

    Another variant of Babka is to mix grated potatoes and minced meat without layering. However in this variant pork for the filling (or sometimes bacon) is cut into small pieces and before mixing with potatoes fried with onion till onion becomes translucent. Then mix potatoes and pork, put into oiled skillet, brush with sour cream and bake in the oven.

    Kartoflyaniki

  • 8-10 potatoes;
  • 2 tablespoons of four;
  • 1 egg;
  • 1 tablespoon butter;
  • 1 onion;
  • 100 g sour cream;
  • salt, pepper to taste;
  • frying oil or fat.

    Boil potatoes in skin, peel, grate, add flour, butter, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well and form balls each about 20 g. Bake in oven till they turn golden brown. Chop the onion and fry it. Put sour cream and onion over kartoflyaniki and simmer for 5 minutes. Can be served with fried mushrooms or finely chopped onion.

    Machanka: Machanka is used as a Belarusian traditional sauce for draniki or blini. There are several variants of machanka.

    1. Quick Machanka Recipe (as a sauce):

  • 150 g sliced pork (or finely chopped cured ribs);
  • 50-100 g sliced smoked sausage;
  • lard for frying;
  • 50g sour cream;
  • onion.

    Fry ribs or sliced pork and chopped sausage using the lard, then stew till you have some juice. Chop an onion and sauté it separately. Add together meat and the onion and put everything (including the juice) into a clay pot. If there is not enough juice add a little bit water. Add sour cream and stew in the oven about 20-30 minutes.

    2. More Complicated Machanka:

  • 250-300 g pork meat;
  • 200 g country sausage;
  • 2 onions, 100 g fat;
  • 2 tblsps flour;
  • salt.

    Cut the pork (with ribs) and country sausage into chunks and fry till brown. Saute the flour, blend it with meat stock or water, mix in boiling water, stirring constantly until it gives a thin flour gravy. Add salt. Cut and brown onions, add them to the sauce as well as pieces of pork fat. Mix with meat and place in oven for about 30-40 minutes. Serve with draniki, pancakes or boiled potatoes.

    Almost all of the above mentioned traditional Belarusian potato dishes you can try at one of Minsk restautants. For example at Pechki Lavochki

  • Blini or Pancakes

    Belarusians didn’t use yeast in Traditional Old Belarusian cuisine thus they didn’t cook pirogi (pies) or blini in those times. However Belarusians had their own type of blini called “raschinnie” and made from oatmeal flour. To cook such blini Belarusians would mix oatmeal flour with water and let it get sour.

    You can try out the following recipe variations of that dish.

    Oatmeal Blini

  • 180 g Oatmeal flakes;
  • 250 ml milk;
  • 20 g Butter;
  • 3 Eggs;
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar;
  • salt.

    Blend oatmeal in the blender to make flour. Add milk, eggs, melted butter, sugar and salt and mix well. Cook thin pancakes and serve with sour cream or jam.

    Baked oatmeal flakes pancakes

  • 100 g oatmeal flakes;
  • 50 g regular (wheat) flour;
  • 3-4 tablespoons of cheese;
  • 1 yoke;
  • 200 ml Milk;
  • 50 g butter.

    Mix oatmeal flakes with flour and cheese, melted butter, milk and salt. Mix well. Make round pancakes. Brush with yoke. Place them into the oven and bake till ready.

    Though Blini is considered a Russian specialty it is one of the favorite dishes in Belarus as well! So here is a traditional easy blini recipe.

    Easy recipe for Blini

  • 500 g. white flour;
  • 4-5 eggs;
  • 200 g butter;
  • 3-4 glasses milk (600-800 ml);
  • 100 g sugar.

    The batter for blini should be made thin. Mix yokes with sugar and add milk, mix in salt and warmed up butter, add flour and mix till smooth and well blended. Whisk egg whites separately into a foam and mix in to batter. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Lightly oil the pan. Pour enough batter into the pan, to cover the bottom in a thin layer, tilt it to spread evenly. When the edges appear crispy and the surface get covered with tiny bubbles, flip the blin over with a spatula to fry from the other side.

    You can serve blini with various fillings such as ham and cheese, fried mushrooms, smoked salmon or sweet fillings such as fresh berries, jam, cream, yoghurt etc.

  • Meat Dishes

    Belarusian Bitki (bitochki)
  • 1 kg ground beef;
  • 200 g onions;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 100 g melted butter;
  • salt.

    Finely chop onion and add together with eggs to the beef, add salt and mix well. Form bitochki (some form them as meat balls and others as cutlets) and fry in the melted butter. Serve with boiled potatoes and mushrooms.

    Fried goose stuffed with apples

  • 1 goose;
  • 1 kg sour apples;
  • 1 garlic;
  • salt.

    This is a holiday dish. Prepare the bird (goose, duck or chicken), singe over a fire (if needed) and clean. Rub the inside with salt and chopped garlic. Cut the apples into quarters, cut out cores and skin. Stuff the goose full with the apples. Sew up the vent with a trussing needle and kitchen string. Place the goose in a shallow roasting pan.  Pour a small amount of water in the pan so that as the fat releases it won't burn. Roast in the oven till ready – about 2-3 hours depending on the size of the goose. When roasting from time to time pour the released fat and juice over the goose. Carve the ready bird into pieces after removing the threads and serve together with stuffing.

  • Belarusian Deserts

    Most of Belarusain traditional deserts are made from forest berries or garden fruits such as apples and plums etc. Using the berries Belarusains make kisel (thick sweet drink), kulaga, puddings. However nowadays when you vesit Belarus you can enjoy a big variety of delicious very creative cakes, pies, cookies, pastries, puddings and other deserts.

    We recomend to try one of the most delicious deserts - Belarusian sirniki with raisins.

    Baked Apples filled with honey

  • Apples
  • Honey
  • powdered sugar
  • You can also add nuts, forest berries and cinnamon

    Wash the apples and carefully cut out the cores. Fill in the apple with honey. You can also add your favorite type of nuts or berries. Bake the apples in the oven. Before serving sprinkle them with some powdered sugar.

    Apple Pancakes

  • 200 gr. apple pure
  • 100 g sugar
  • 50 g butter
  • 10 g yeast
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt

    To get apple pure bake the apples, take out the kerns and pure them. Add wheat flour, salt, east, butter and sugar. Mix into thick dough.

    Warm up butter or oil on the frying pan. Place small portions of dough to fry small pancakes (8-10 cm in diameter)

    You can serve the pancakes with sour cream or jam.

    Belarusian Kulaga:

  • 1 kg berries
  • 1 lt boiling water
  • 3-4 tablespoons of rye flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons of honey
  • 200 g sugar

    You can use any forest berries (wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries etc.) for kulaga as well as plums and cherries without pits. Fill a clay pot half with berries and half with water (1:1). Boil on the stove or in the oven.

    When the berries become soft add the flour and mix well, keep stirring frequently. In 10 minutes add sugar and honey, keep stirring and cook till kulaga has thick consistency.

    Ready kulaga should have the consistency of porridge cooked for a very long time. Let it cool down and serve. Sirniki with raisins:

  • 400 g quark (11% fat)
  • 100 g raisins
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g flour
  • 1 egg
  • vegetable oil Ingredients for the sauce
  • 50 g poppy seeds
  • 600 g sour cream
  • 50 g butter
  • 100 g sugar

    Wash the raisins and soak them in water for 5 minutes. Drain, pat dry. Prepare sirniki dough: mix the quark, raisins, 50 g sugar, egg and 50 g flour. Form into small balls with 2-3 cm diameter, dip in flour. Put on a plate and place into the freezer for a couple hours. Prepare the sauce. Soak poppy seeds in hot boiled water for 15 minutes, drain. Melt the butter, add sour cream poppy seeds and sugar. Put on low heat but do not let it boil. Deep fry sirniki in oil till brown crust. Put sirniki into a clay (stoneware) pot, pour the sauce over them and let boil in the oven at 180 C. As soon as boil take out and serve.