Family at the Table painted by Ivan Semenovich Kulikov (1938)

Russian food | Русская кухня

I have a Russian neighbor who spoils my wife and I with delicious homemade Russian food! There is nothing quite like home cooked meals.

I think food is such a great way to learn about different cultures. Even before we made it to Mauritius one of the first things we looked up was some of the popular local foods, and on one of our first grocery tips we visited a foot court to find one of them.

We have been fortunate to be introduced to so many delicious Russian foods.

Before meeting our neighbor, I had not had any Russian cuisine and had only known that Borsh was a traditional soup. But since moving here I have had everything from homemade Salo (сало) – cured pork fat – to multilayered honey cake (медови́к).

In this post, I share some of the Russian foods my wife and I have had over the last year and half, often on multiple occasions!

I never thought I would enjoy Russian food. I grew up in a European household and ate spicy foods with lots of flavors.  I associated any food from somewhere like Russia (which I knew as this mysterious place with freezing winters) with bland flavours, but on the contrary Russian food has been really enjoyable.

The thing that surprised my wife and I the most was how I even enjoyed foods that had some homemade mayonnaise in them.

I have never been able to eat mayonnaise. From childhood to the present, if I ate out somewhere I would have to ask for no mayo and if the restaurant got it wrong as was often the case, I wouldn’t be able to eat it even if I scraped the mayo off the bun and removed the salad. The taste and smell would still put me off.

But my neighbor makes almost everything homemade even her mayo. I had a salad thinking it was just a sauce and was savoring every spoonful my wife told me it was mayo and at first I didn’t believe it.

I still can’t stand the taste of normal mayo off the shelves but for some reason the homemade mayo is the only one I have ever been able to have, and this was really strange for me. I still only have it in small amounts though.

Our neighbor guided us on how to make our own kefir and shared some kefir grains with us. Now I have kefir every day from homemade batches.

She is quite talented – both with cooking and baking – and said that her only training is what she learned in Soviet school.

The list:

  • Blini (блины)  – ‘pancakes’, although not quite the same as pancakes in the West but similar
  • Pelmeni (Пельмени) – dumplings
  • Syrniki (сырники) – a type of fried ‘pancakes’
  • Borsch (Борщ) – beetroot soup
  • Pirozhki (Пирожки) – little pies with meat or pork filling
  • Shashlik (шашлык) – skewered and grilled cubes of meat
  • Salo (сало) – cured pork fat
  • Herring under a fur coat (сельдь под шубой) – a salad with herring, beetroot, potato, and mayo
  • Caviar (Икра) I’ve only had red, I am yet to try black caviar
  • Oladyi (оладьи) – small but thick ‘pancakes’ or ‘fritters’
  • Medovik (медови́к) – a popular Russian layered honey cake consisting of honey-infused, almost biscuit-like sponges that are coated with thin layers of cream
  •  Vinegret – Russian beet salad
  • Kefir (Кефир) – fermented milk-based drink
  • Baked Apples (Печёные яблоки) – baked apples with a filling such as nuts
  • Vodka (Водка)
  • Kulich (Кулич) – Russian easter cake
  • Ponchiki (Пончики) – ‘Russian donuts’

So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.

– Franz Kafka

Monument to the Murom kalach

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