As one of the largest countries in Europe, Ukraine is home to gorgeous cathedrals, rugged coastlines, and a rich agricultural tradition that has earned it the nickname “the bread basket of Europe.” But this Slavic country, which became independent after the collapse of czarist Russia in 1991, is not without its political challenges. It has vacillated between seeking closer integration with Western Europe and remaining drawn into the orbit of Russia, which sees its interests threatened by a West-leaning Ukraine.
As a result, Ukrainian cuisine has been shaped by ancient peasant dishes that emphasize wheat and other grains as well as the plentiful vegetables that have made this land the “breadbasket of Europe.” It also incorporates other European techniques picked up over centuries of foreign jurisdiction and influence. The resulting mix is a wonderful culinary blend of Eastern and Western influences that is well represented in the food served in restaurants throughout this diverse nation.
Whether you’re looking for a hearty bowl of borscht or a tasty pastry filled with sweet walnuts, the Ukraine has something to satisfy every taste. These classic dishes are often simple to make and made up of ingredients that are readily available across the country. That makes them perfect for a cozy dinner at home or when you’re craving some traditional Ukrainian fare.
One of the most famous Ukrainian foods is holbtsi, which are savory stuffed cabbage rolls. They’re a must-try for anyone visiting Ukraine or if you’ve got a great Ukrainian restaurant nearby. The meat and rice rolled inside the leafy greens are so flavorful that this meal is truly delectable.
Another popular dish is solyanka soup, a traditional Slavic soup typically made with tomato, onion, olives, and a variety of other vegetables. If meat is added, it’s usually beef or pork. This delicious soup is a great comfort food during colder weather.
Bublik is a ring-shaped yeast-raised dough that can be savory or sweet. It’s typically tossed with powdered sugar, but it can be stuffed with many different things like fruits, berries, or poppy seed filling. It’s a common side dish for meals like borscht and salo.
The list of Ukrainian desserts is extensive, but some of the most popular are kutynia (cottage cheese pie) and varennya, which is whole fruit preserve made by cooking berries and other fruit in sugar syrup. Another popular dessert is ptashyne moloko, which consists of two soft cakes and a layer of nut-chocolate jelly.
In addition to its delicious food, the Ukraine has a rich folk music culture. Its instruments range from the tsymbol and lirnyk folk songs of the Carpathians to the broad polyphonic singing of the steppes. This culture is a strong force in Ukrainian identity, which is why the famous winter ritual song “Carol of the Bells” is so beloved by many around the world.