What do you eat in Ukraine: typical dishes, tips and curiosities about Ukrainian cuisine

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Ukraine is one of the countries of Eastern Europe that draws its roots most from the Russian tradition, especially as regards the culinary art. Tasting the most important courses of this country is immediately perceived the great variety of flavors, but also the extreme simplicity of the ingredients, which are in fact very widespread, typical of the whole territory and, with their genuineness, able to make each dish unique and unrepeatable.

Find out then what you eat in Ukraine, typical dishes through our advice and the most interesting curiosities.


  1. 10 Typical dishes of Ukraine
  2. Typical sweets of Ukraine
  3. Drinks and liqueurs: what do you drink in Ukraine
  4. Tips and trivia: where to eat and what to avoid
  5. User questions and comments

10 Typical dishes of Ukraine

1 - Vareniki

Vareniki are nothing but gods pasta ravioli typical of Ukrainian cuisine and can be sweet or savory: the filling can be made of sweet ricotta, black cherries, cherries, blueberries, apples or strawberries for the first courses, for the savory ones you can find potatoes, meat, fish and or mushrooms. Tradition has it that they are served with melted butter, sour cream, oil or fried onions. In ancient times, women of Ukrainian families gathered to prepare vareniki for their children.

Although the vareniki are now recognized as the national dish of Ukraine, not everyone knows that this dish was born in Turkey, where it was known as dyush-vara. The Turks did not appreciate this dish very much, on the contrary the Ukrainians fell in love with it and initially gave it the name vara-niki, later transformed into vareniki (a term that indicates a boiled dish).

  • Recommended to: lunch, dinner, snack
  • Average cost: € 2,50
  • Main ingredients: savory with potatoes, meat, fish and / or mushrooms; desserts with sweet ricotta, sour cherries, cherries, blueberries, apples or strawberries

2 - Borsch

Another must of Ukrainian cuisine is borsch: it is about a beetroot soup which many associate with Russia, but the recipe has purely Ukrainian origins.

The dish looks like a purple-colored soup prepared with beans, cabbage and tomato sauce; many others also add lard and garlic, ingredients that really differentiate it from the borsch prepared in Russia. There is also a vegetarian variant which obviously does not include meat.

The variations are really many, but the constants are beetroot and sour cream, or ingredient with which it is served on the plate. The beneficial effects of this dish are different, in fact it is really rich in iron and other minerals, so it is an excellent antioxidant.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 3,00
  • Main ingredients: beetroot, lard, sour cream, beans, cabbage, tomato sauce

3 - Chicken Kiev

It is a dish that gained popularity among the Ukrainian people after the Second World War and is a particular chicken meat roll rolled around cold butter, spices of various kinds, herbs and breaded with egg, then finally fried.

The recipe for this tasty delicacy was first conceived by a French chef who lived in Russian territory, only later this dish then became very famous and appreciated also in Ukraine.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 10,00
  • Main ingredients: chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, butter, spices, herbs

4 - Golubcy

They are gods cabbage leaf rolls stuffed with meat or seasoned rice, buckwheat and finally flavored with the inevitable spices. It is a popular dish also in Russia, however in the Ukrainian version there are many variations, namely that of the Carpathians, in which the rolls are prepared with barley flour, in the west of the nation you can make small rolls by cutting the leaves of cabbage in pieces, in the Poltava region they are prepared with buckwheat and pork. Finally, in the south and east of Ukraine they are prepared with whole leaves.

Most often they are then served with sour cream or tomato sauce, then in spring the cabbage is replaced by beets.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 7,00
  • Main ingredients: cabbage leaves, buckwheat, pork

5 - Plov

It's not one hundred percent Ukrainian dish but it is very popular in the best restaurants in Kiev. It has very ancient origins and initially many French chefs tried to cook it based on the ancient stories of travelers who went to Arab countries, attempts useless in the end since the original recipe was found only in the nineteenth century and, from that moment, every country (especially in the East ) follows his recipe.

In Ukraine the tradition foresees a spiced and then seasoned rice dish with different ingredients namely onions, carrots, mutton and dried grapes.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 10,00
  • Main ingredients: rice, spices, onions, carrots, mutton and dried grapes

6 - Shuba

It is a dish that was born in Russia but which is widespread in almost all Eastern European countries (especially the former Soviet Union). It is about a salad of herring and boiled vegetables. Shuba means fur and in fact the salad can be defined as "herring in fur".

In other words, it's a kind of Russian salad with the addition of boiled beets and smoked fish such as herring, or sometimes mackerel or trout are also used. In all the tables of Ukraine it comes served as an appetizer, however the dish is indeed very rich and certainly not easy to digest.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 10,00
  • Main ingredients: potatoes, beets, carrots, mayonnaise, egg, fish

7 - Tovtchenyky

The Tovtchenyky, on the other hand, is a gastronomic delicacy fish: the latter is in fact cooked in a restricted broth and subsequently consumed with a very tasty and delicious side dish of fried onions.

Many are those who order it in the best restaurants, very often choosing it as a second course.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 8,00
  • Main ingredients: fish, onions, broth

8 - Potato pancakes (deruny)

Exquisite potato pancakes are also widespread in Ukraine, one of the pillars of the culinary tradition of Ukraine, also called deruny.

They are normally cooked in their round pancake shape and served as an accompaniment to meat or vegetables, others serve them together with exquisite sauces. Still others prepare it also by replacing wheat flour with rice flour, still others serve it with the inevitable sour cream.

  • Recommended to: lunch, dinner, snack
  • Average cost: € 4,00
  • Main ingredients: eggs, onion, potatoes, flour, salt, black pepper

9 - Kholodets

One of the most "bizarre" dishes of Ukrainian cuisine is certainly Kholodets, una jelly made from chicken meat, an extremely popular ingredient especially in Kiev.

This dish has its roots in traditional Soviet cuisine and was prepared purely during the spring and summer.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 4,00
  • Main ingredients: meat (chicken or pork), water, onion, black pepper

10 - Kasha

Finally, among the most prepared and popular dishes there is Kasha, which would be the equivalent of British "porridge". This dish also has Russian origins. There are different types, however it is always prepared with water, milk and meat broth. Among the best known are semolina, buckwheat kasha, hulled millet, rice and hulled oats.

In ancient times it was a dish of fundamental importance for familiesIn fact, the proverb is not accidental: "Tshchi da kasha - pischa nasha" that is: "Soup and gruel are our food".

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 6,00
  • Main ingredients: buckwheat seeds, meat, carrots and onions with butter or lard

Typical sweets of Ukraine

The confectionery and pastry tradition of Ukraine is also heavily influenced by Russian, Polish and general influences Eastern Europe.

Excellent typical delicacies are widespread, for example of the cuisine of Georgia with its churchkheli, delicious sweets based on hazelnuts and dried fruit and with a particular elongated shape, but also tasty cakes created in distant times. One of these is the Napoleon Cake whose recipe was probably put into practice in the period of the Napoleonic conquests towards the Russian front.
Or even delicacies that involve the skilful use of ingredients such as lemon zest or ricotta that enrich what are known as sochniki.

1 - Churchkheli

On the list of desserts not to be missed in Ukraine there are certainly churchkheli, delicious sweets in based on hazelnuts and dried fruit and with a particular elongated shape (candle or sausage), which find their roots in the state of Georgia. The Ukrainian version differ in their bright colors.

They often come consumed with a pomegranate or wine-based jelly, depending on your preference. They are mostly common in small kiosks or food markets in the largest centers of Ukraine.

  • Average cost: € 2,00
  • Main ingredients: dried fruit, pomegranate juice, wine

2 - Napoleon cake

You can't go to Ukraine and not taste this great layer cake, made of delicious cream and layers of puff pastry, then stuffed with an excellent butter cream.

This must probably has Russian origins, although not entirely certain, and in particular it was prepared for the first time probably in period of the Napoleonic campaign for the conquest of the empire. To get an idea, it looks a lot like our millefeuille cake.

  • Average cost: € 3,00
  • Main ingredients: flour, butter, water, vinegar, eggs, sugar, milk, cognac

3 - Sochniki

They were born right in Ukraine and are nothing but tasty and little sweets a half-moon shape of puff pastry based on flour and butter, the filling also includes a ricotta cream and lemon zest; at the end they are then baked in the oven.

They were delicacies prepared especially for the most important holidays such as Christmas or Easter, but today it is really easy to find them in all Ukrainian pastry shops.

  • Average cost: € 3,00
  • Main ingredients: puff pastry, butter, flour, ricotta cream, lemon zest

4 - Syrniki

Then we have the serniki, a kind of pancakes prepared with eggs, flour and ricotta.

There are different types, some are fried, others cooked in the oven, but in essence they are always accompanied with honey, fresh cream or with tasty seasonal jam. Excellent both for breakfast to start the day and as a snack.

  • Average cost: € 5,00
  • Main ingredients: eggs, flour, ricotta, oil

Drinks and liqueurs: what do you drink in Ukraine

In Ukraine wines, beer and vodka are very popular. The traditional drink par excellence is definitely there horilka, very similar to vodka, wine, produced in Crimea thanks to the temperate climate that favors the cultivation of vineyards and fruit trees, must certainly also be included. These areas are in fact famous throughout the world for their great expertise in the wine sector. Finally, beer also occupies an important place among the typical Ukrainian drinks, the most Kvass is certainly famous, very light and with low alcohol content.

But the drink that emblematically represents this nation is theOzvar, known for being made essentially based on an infusion of dried fruit.

1 - Ozvar

La more traditional drink of Ukraine, and which truly represents its "soul", is certainly Ozvar: it is prepared from an infusion of dried fruit and following a particular and very ancient procedure.

It is really difficult to find this drink on the market as the recipe is known to very few. Ozvar is characterized by a very light taste, the flavor is not perfectly defined and the typical color is slightly pink.

  • Average cost: € 7,00
  • Main ingredients: dried fruit infusion

2 - Kvass

It is one of the most particular and good beers which you will never find in Ukraine, is low in alcohol and is prepared with fermented sugar and rye bread.

If you go to Ukraine during the summer you can easily come across "cans with wheels", drag them into the city and the kvass is just poured from them into your glass.

  • Average cost: € 5,00
  • Main ingredients: sugar, rye bread, water

3 - Horilka

Among the typical drinks, horilka must certainly be included, which is a close relative of vodka: it is a very spicy drink with a higher alcohol content than the Russian one, and in particular it could be defined as a distillate of wheat and rye (and sometimes even potatoes).

  • Average cost: € 7,00
  • Main ingredients: alcohol, spices, wheat, rye

Tips and trivia: where to eat and what to avoid

If you eat in Ukraine you should know that the most popular dishes even among locals are not exactly low-calorie, indeed they are not at all! It is a cuisine rich in carbohydrates, very spicy and rich in aromatic herbs, and none of the latter is used inappropriately.
The most used ingredients are for example vegetables, beets, mushrooms, fruit and herbs, without forgetting the great value of bread: Ukraine, in fact, is defined as the "basket of Europe" for its enormous production of wheat.

Ukrainian national cuisine has some rather recent origins, in fact, it developed its main peculiarities starting from the nineteenth century, to improve only in the first half of the twentieth century; it is particular because it is very heterogeneous, it combines the Polish, Russian, Turkish, Germanic, Hungarian and Tatar traditions, and every single region has its own variant for each dish!

The recommendation is therefore to choose to consume these dishes in restaurants that are not too cheap and always choose most popular and central areas, especially if you are in larger cities like Kiev.

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