7 goal-kicking eats from Russia

As World Cup fever grips the country, Food Spark takes a look at some of Russia’s most delicious dishes.

29 June 2018
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image credit: 5PH/iStock/thinkstock.co.uk

1. Borscht

A vibrant beetroot soup that is to Russian culture what burgers and fries are to Americans.

With a trademark deep reddish-purple colour, this sour soup is typically made by combining meat or bone stock with vegetables like cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. It is often served with a dollop of sour cream.

It can also be accompanied with a piece of rye or garlic bread topped with melted cheese.

In London, you can eat it at Borshtech N Tears, which is one of the oldest Russian restaurants in the UK.

2. Pelmeni

Like most countries, Russians have their own style of dumplings, which are either boiled or served in a broth.

The point of different is they often pack herbs in alongside lamb, pork or beef filings and are made with a thin dough.

Also common are fish dumplings, typically made up of salmon. There’s a sweet style of dumplings too, called vareniki, which traditionally come with a cottage cheese filling, accompanied by sour cream and raspberry sauce.

One of the most famous Russian restaurants in London – because of its ‘press for champagne’ button – Bob Bob Ricard offers pelmeni on the starter menu stuffed with fancy ingredients like truffled potato and mushroom or lobster, crab and shrimp.

But a range of other restaurants also serve them up in a more accessible format like Mari Vanna in Knightsbridge and Zima in Soho.

3. Olivye salad

This is the Russian version of a potato salad and is usually made up of peas, carrots, onions, meat, pickles and

eggs, which is mixed together with mayo. The meat used is either bologna sausage, chicken or ham.

It is popular around traditional holidays like New Year’s, Christmas and Easter, but restaurants generally have it on their menus all year round.

The original version of the salad from the 1800s contained grouse, veal tongue, caviar, crayfish tails, capers and smoked duck, so the dish has definitely been made more mainstream. In London, you can try it at Mari Vanna.

4. Pirozhki

Puff pastry goodness right here that is often sold as fast food over there.

These are stuffed buns that are baked (after being glazed with egg to produce a golden colour) or fried and usually contain beef or a vegetable filling consisting of mashed potatoes, onions and eggs or cabbage. (We are seeing an ingredient theme here…)

These buns can also be turned sweet as well with stewed or fresh fruit like apples, cherries and apricots, as well as jam or cottage cheese.

The restaurant Zima sells them from £2 with a variety of fillings.

5. Golubtsy

Cabbage again makes an appearance but this time as the star.

This comfort food involves cooked cabbage stuffed with ground meat, rice and herbs, stewed in a savoury broth and then served with sour cream – of course.

A traditional recipe requires boiling the whole head of cabbage before separating the leaves, which are often covered in a fragrant tomato sauce. Even Tesco has a recipe online for this dish.

In London, you can dine on golubtsy at the Erebuni Restaurant in Islington.

6. Medovik

This classic Russian cake is said to date back 200 years and is a popular sweet with thin layers of honey sponge cake with sweetened sour cream. It’s often topped with nuts.

Legend has it that it was created in the 18th century by a young chef who sought to impress the empress wife of Russia’s Czar Alexander I.

The intricate cake takes time to make, with modern recipes using sweet condensed milk that is cooked for hours, resulting in a thick caramel-flavoured spread that gives it a unique flavour.

7. Blini

Not the Russian version of a famous Italian cocktail. These are bite-sized pancake traditionally made from wheat,

which can be served as canapes with sour cream and smoked salmon.

The difference from other pancakes is the use of yeast as a raising agent, rather than baking power or bicarbonate soda.

They are often dished up to mark the beginning of Lent in their eastern European homeland.

Camden’s Stolle Bakery & Restaurant has them on the menu with a choice of toppings, including sour cream or honey; seasonal fruits and vanilla ice cream; or sweet condensed milk and seasonal berries.

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