Skip to Content

National Food of Russia: Top 18 Dishes

Welcome to a culinary tour through Russia’s lively and diverse food culture. Are you curious about what dishes define Russian cuisine? Wondering what traditional foods you must try when visiting Russia? Or perhaps you’re looking to recreate some authentic Russian recipes at home? This article is here to answer all your questions, providing a delicious exploration of the national food of Russia.

In this article, we will explore the top 18 dishes that are the heart and soul of Russian cuisine. From the hearty warmth of Pelmeni and the robust flavors of Solyanka to the delicate sweetness of Syrniki and the comforting familiarity of Borscht, you’ll discover a rich pattern of flavors and traditions.

We’ll also touch on the unique spices that give Russian dishes their distinctive taste, the communal nature of Russian family dining, and the flourishing farm-to-table movement that’s redefining contemporary Russian gastronomy. So, join us as we uncover the culinary delights of Russia, and don’t forget to explore our other articles to further enrich your gastronomic knowledge and adventures.

Top 6 National Foods of Switzerland

1. Pelmeni

photo by Gourmandise

Pelmeni is a cherished Russian dish that symbolizes comfort food, featuring small dumplings filled with mushrooms, onions, and other veggies. These delightful parcels offer a mix of flavors and textures, perfect whether served in broth or pan-fried and garnished with fresh herbs. Found on menus across Russia, Pelmeni satisfies every palate.

2. Solyanka

photo by Hugh Llewelyn

Solyanka is a traditional Russian soup known for its robust and mouth-watering flavors. This soup combines sour and delicious notes with ingredients like meat, sausage, ham, pickles, capers, and olives in a tomato-based broth. A dollop of sour cream, mustard, and lemon juice adds a tangy twist, making Solyanka a symphony of flavors that charm the taste buds.

3. Shashlik

photo by Allan Grey

Shashlik, reflective of kebabs, is a beloved Russian dish that symbolizes gatherings and celebrations. This skewered and grilled marinated meat dish includes ingredients like spices, onions, vinegar, and garlic. Paired with vegetables, flatbreads, and pickles, Shashlik offers a perfect blend of juicy meat and tangy marinade, making it a must-try for meat lovers at almost every restaurant.

4. Borscht

photo by liz west

Borscht is a classic Russian soup that serves as the perfect starter for those wanting to try authentic Russian cuisine. This lively red soup is made from a variety of beets, cabbage, and other vegetables. Whether served hot or cold, Borscht is typically topped with a dollop of fresh sour cream, enhancing its rich and earthy flavors.

5. Kholodets

photo by Alpha

Kholodets typically served cold as a starter, is a collagen-rich dish made by boiling pork or beef until the meat is delicate. The meat and other ingredients like onions, carrots, and bay leaves are stewed for hours, and then chilled to gelatinize the broth, resulting in a unique and flavorful meat jelly.

6. Syrniki

photo by Off-shell

Syrniki is a delightful breakfast or dessert treat in Russia. Made from a mixture of creamy cottage cheese, eggs, and flour, these small pancakes are fried until golden brown. They have a slightly crispy exterior and a soft, creamy interior, often served with sour cream or jam for a sweet and tangy finish.

7 Traditional Dishes to Eat

7. Guriev Kasha

Guriev kasha is a creamy and satisfying breakfast dish, perfect for starting the day. This classic Russian porridge can be paired with a variety of delicious toppings such as honey, fruits, nuts, or butter, making it a comforting and versatile meal.

8. Rassolnik

photo by Edinburgh Blog

Rassolnik is a winter soup featuring pickled cucumbers as its star ingredient, often enhanced with a splash of brine. Originating in the 15th century, this tasty soup includes root vegetables, grains, herbs, and spices in a meat or vegetable broth, showing Russia’s tradition of pickling.

9. Salo

photo by kalkinDe

Salo, thin slices of salt-cured pork fat, is a popular Russian snack. Known for providing a quick burst of energy, salo is made from the healthy fat stored by animals before winter and cured for up to 36 hours. It is a staple for its rich, delicious taste and simplicity.

10. Kurnik

photo by edwin

Kurnik, a Russian chicken pot pie, is a highlight at festive gatherings and weddings. This delicate pie features a flaky pastry crust filled with layers of delicious chicken, mushrooms, rice, and hard-boiled eggs, making it a hearty and beloved dish.

11. Pashka

Pashka is a traditional dessert essential for Russian Easter celebrations. Made with cream cheese, butter, dried fruits, and nuts, this sweet custard is shaped into a pyramid, symbolizing celebration and tradition in Russia and other Eastern Orthodox countries.

12. Okroshka

photo by Nikkolo

Okroshka is a refreshing cold soup made with kvass, meat, veggies, and eggs, ideal for warm summer months. This soup offers a delightful mix of flavors and textures, with variations using kefir or mineral water for a milder taste.

13. Mushroom Julien

Mushroom julien is a creamy casserole dish combining mushrooms, meat, sour cream, and cheese, baked to a golden finish. This dish, introduced by French chefs, features julienned mushrooms in a rich, creamy sauce, making it a delicious and indulgent treat.

See Also Music in Russia

Spices: The Heart of Russian Cooking

photo by shankar s.

Russian cuisine, known for its rich and diverse flavors, extensively utilizes a variety of spices and herbs to enhance its dishes. Among these, dill reigns supreme, used in almost every type of dish except desserts. Fresh dill, as opposed to dried, is preferred for its dynamic flavor. Bay leaves, garlic, and onion follow closely behind, imparting their distinctive tastes to soups, stews, and meat dishes.

Essential spices like black pepper and mustard are also staples, with black pepper adding heat and mustard contributing a tangy zest to salads, sauces, and marinades.

Additionally, Russian cooking features other spices and herbs that contribute to its unique taste profile. Paprika is commonly used to add color and depth to soups, stews, and meat dishes, while horseradish provides a spicy kick to sauces and pickled items. Caraway seeds lend a warm, earthy flavor to bread and pickles, and parsley is a versatile garnish for soups, salads, and meats.

Together, these ingredients create a palette of flavors that make Russian cuisine both hearty and complex, enjoyed globally for its distinctive and comforting tastes.

Russian Family Dining

photo by Petyo Ivanov

Russian family dining revolves around communal and hearty meals, often prepared tableside in a style reflective of cart French service. Servers place various foods on platters and pass them around, allowing guests to help themselves and assemble their own plates, with service typically from the left.

The daily meal schedule generally includes a light breakfast of bread, butter, sausage, or cheese, accompanied by tea. Dinner is the main meal, featuring soup; often variations of shchi or borscht; followed by roasted potatoes with a meat cutlet. Supper, the evening meal, usually consists of macaroni and roasted meat.

Meat dishes hold a central place in Russian dinners, reflecting the cuisine’s emphasis on hearty and substantial fare. These can range from pork and beef to poultry and lamb, with roasts and juicy dumplings being particularly popular.

Besides meat, Russians also enjoy pickles and preserves, home-grown vegetables, and fresh or dried fish, showing their fondness for foraging and self-sufficiency. Additionally, Russians have a notable sweet tooth, engaging in cakes, sweets, and ice cream.

Street Food

14. Ponchiki

photo by cottonbro studio

Ponchiki, also known as pyshki in St. Petersburg, is a beloved Russian street food treat. These fried dough balls, made primarily from farmer’s cheese instead of flour, are dusted with powdered sugar and served in a paper cone. Each bite offers a melt-in-your-mouth experience with delightful pockets of cheese curds, making ponchiki the perfect snack for any game day or a casual outing.

15. Blini

photo by Nadin Sh

Blini are a staple at both buffet tables and street stalls in Russia, cherished for their versatility and classic appeal. Unlike typical pancakes, blini owe their delicate texture to yeast and their nutty flavor to buckwheat flour. They can be filled with a variety of ingredients, from smoked salmon and sour cream to jam and honey, making them a crowd-pleaser that’s easy to prepare in large quantities.

16. Kukuruza

photo by Didriks

Kukuruza, or boiled corn on the cob, is a favorite street food in Russia, perfect for enjoying on the go. Vendors often serve whole ears of sweet corn generously smeared with salt and butter, sometimes on a stick for convenience. This simple yet delicious snack is ideal for exploring local markets or taking a leisurely walk through the city.

17. Chebureki

photo by Nadin Sh

Chebureki is a popular Russian street food, known for its deep-fried, golden-brown goodness. These half-moon-shaped turnovers are filled with a tasty mixture of ground meat and minced onions. Made from a simple dough of flour, water, salt, and olive oil, chebureki are cooked to perfection in bubbling peanut or avocado oil, making them a deliciously crispy snack.

18. Pirozhki

photo by Polina Tankilevitch

Pirozhki is a versatile and satisfying street food in Russia, enjoyed as a quick snack or meal. These boat-shaped buns come with a variety of fillings, such as ground meat, potatoes, cabbage, or mushrooms. They can also be sweet, with fruit jam or sweet cottage cheese as stuffing. The yeasted dough is either baked or fried to golden brown perfection, making pirozhki a beloved treat for all occasions.

Farm-to-Table Movement

The farm-to-table movement in Russia is exemplified by the innovative approaches of the twin brothers behind the renowned Twins Garden restaurant and farm. Dissatisfied with the quality of ingredients available, they established their own eco-farm, ensuring that 70% of the restaurant’s produce comes from their own land, with the remaining 30% sourced from trusted local fishermen.

Additionally, they engage in dairy farming, poultry breeding, and fish farming, making the farm largely self-sufficient and allowing the chefs to offer fresh, high-quality ingredients directly from their farm to the restaurant table.

Twins Garden is not just about traditional Russian cuisine; it’s about reinterpreting it with modern techniques and innovative presentations. The restaurant’s sleek, stylish setting and its location with a view of Moscow enhance the dining experience, which includes a unique tasting menu themed around the concept of “twins”—pairing dishes that visually resemble each other but offer distinct and complementary flavors.

The twins’ dedication to the farm-to-table ethos demonstrates how contemporary Russian chefs are pushing culinary boundaries, creating dishes that are both rooted in local traditions and inspired by global techniques.

See Also Traditional Russian Clothing

Dining Etiquette

photo by Sean Biehle

Dos

1. Use Continental Table Manners: They hold the fork in their left hand and the knife in their right hand while eating.

2. Wait for the Host: They do not begin eating until the host invites them to start.

3. Keep Hands Visible: Their hands should always be in sight, resting their wrists on the edge of the table.

4. Respect Seating Arrangements: They allow senior members to enter rooms first and do not seat themselves; the seating is usually predetermined.

5. Make Eye Contact During Toasts: They maintain eye contact from the moment they lift their glass until they place it down.

6. Eat Bread Correctly: Bread is usually served without butter and without a bread plate; it is considered bad luck to waste bread.

7. Toast Appropriately: They are prepared to make a toast if they are toasted personally or are the guest of honor.

8. Participate in Drinking: They take some bread after each drink and have a good excuse ready if they cannot drink more.

Don’ts

1. Force Conversation in Informal Settings: If sharing a table in an informal restaurant, they do not force conversation with strangers.

2. Ignore Bread Etiquette: They avoid leaving any bread they have taken uneaten, as it is considered wasteful and culturally inappropriate.

3. Forget to Remove Shoes: In a Russian home, they may need to remove their shoes before entering; they follow the host’s lead.

4. Disregard Tipping Practices: They remember that tipping is typically incorporated into the price, but offering around 9 to 10 percent is standard.

5. Disrespect the Order of Service: They always allow the oldest or most honored guest to be served first.

Global Influence and Popularity

photo by European Space Agency

Russian cuisine is a unique blend of tradition and innovation, heavily influenced by its diverse cultural heritage and local ingredients. Traditional dishes often incorporate unique elements such as buckwheat, sour milk, and caviar, which are not typically found in other Western cuisines.

Additionally, foods like turnips have become national staples, showing the distinctive agricultural practices in Russia. Contemporary Russian cuisine is celebrated for its reliance on naturally grown ingredients, making it both delicious and healthy. Rich in vegetable oil, sour cream, and mayonnaise, these dishes are hearty and filling, reflecting the historical need for sustaining energy in Russia’s cold climate.

Despite its rich traditions, modern Russian cuisine is also evident in global influences and the adaptability of Russian chefs and home cooks. Many dishes that are commonly associated with Russian cuisine, such as borscht, pelmeni, and shashlik, actually originate from neighboring cultures, including Ukrainian and Mongolian.

Key Takings About National Food of Russia

1. Top National Food of Switzerland: From the beloved Pelmeni to the comforting Syrniki, each dish presents a delightful blend of flavors and textures, offering a glimpse into Russia’s culinary soul.

2. Traditional Dishes to Eat: Guriev Kasha to Mushroom Julien, these dishes reflect Russia’s rich culinary heritage, showing the country’s diverse flavors and regional specialties.

3. Spices: The Heart of Russian Cooking: Dill, bay leaves, and garlic infuse Russian dishes with their distinctive flavors, adding depth and complexity to every bite.

4. Russian Family Dining: Communal meals and hearty fare define Russian family dining, displaying the spirit of togetherness and tradition that represents Russian culture.

5. Street Food: From Ponchiki to Pirozhki, Russian street food delights with its variety and flavor, offering a taste of Russia’s culinary creativity on the go.

6. Farm-to-Table Movement: The Twins Garden restaurant and farm exemplify Russia’s commitment to quality and sustainability, showing the innovative spirit driving the country’s culinary scene forward.

7. Dining Etiquette: From respecting seating arrangements to toasting appropriately, Russian dining etiquette reflects the country’s rich cultural traditions and hospitality.

8. Global Influence and Popularity: Russian cuisine’s unique blend of tradition and innovation has fascinated palates around the world, making dishes like borscht and pelmeni beloved staples of global gastronomy.