10 Best Foods to Taste in Russia


The great cultural diversity of genuine Russia is, indeed, reflected in the national cuisine. Despite the fact that Russian dishes may seem unfamiliar and strange at first glance, you'll definitely find something to your taste and probably even want to get this or that recipe to cook some Russian specialty at home! In this piece, we've put together the most typical examples of the national food for degustation during your Russia travel.


What to Eat & Drink in Russia

1. Pelmeni: Russian Dumplings

In case you ask the locals to name some distinctive national dish, it is likely that famous "pelmeni" will be mentioned among the first ones. Tasty Russian dumplings have been loved by many generations of Russians, serving as a mighty reason to gather with the family to mold and eat them. Being a pretty simple yet hearty specialty, dumplings consist of a meat filling covered with thin dough. Pelmeni are usually served with sour cream and topped by dill or parsley to make the dish even more saturated and aromatic.

2. Blini: Russian Pancakes
Russian Pancakes

Though pancakes are cooked worldwide, Russian "blini" definitely stand out among other alternatives. Unlike famous American pancakes, "blini" are thinner and greasier. Historically, Russians perceived warm and round pancakes as a symbol of the sun which became a basis for the famous Maslenitsa, a week-long festival at the end of February during which Russians cook a lot of pancakes and celebrate the end of winter. "Blini" can be served with different toppings like sour cream, jam, butter, and even caviar (which is a real delicacy).

3. Pirogi: Russian Pies
Russian Pies

Delicious Russian pies or "pirogi" originate from the 17th century, and have been deservedly loved ever since. Offering a tasty bread dough with fillings, pirogi can either be classified under the desserts or snacks category as the diversity of the fillings Russian pies can come with is quite impressive: meat, potatoes, eggs with onion, cabbage, jam, apples, berries, even sorrel leaves - the only limit is your fantasy. Luckily, you can buy pirogi in almost every bakery or market so don't miss this opportunity to treat yourself with tasty Russian "pirozhki".

4. Borsch: Russian Soup

This hearty Russian soup needs particularly no introduction as tasty "borsch" is a kind of the "celebrity" of Russian cuisine. The basis of "borsch" is julienned beetroot (giving the soup its distinctive saturated purple color), cabbage, potatoes, and meat. The recipe of this trademark Russian hot soup may vary, but it is, indeed, a frequent dish on the table of local families. "Borsch" is often served with a spoon of sour cream to add a more delicate flavor. Anyway, you won't deny yourself the pleasure of tasting this delicacy, will you?

5. Olivier: Russian Salad
Russian Salad

Just as the American Thanksgiving table won't do without roasted turkey, the New Year table in Russia won't do without the traditional Olivier (or Russian) salad. This specialty is extremely popular in many post-Soviet countries, and Russians cook it in such an amount for the New Year holidays that it would shock any foreigner and even some Russians themselves. Originally invented by Lucien Olivier, the salad includes boiled potatoes, carrots, eggs, peas, boiled sausage, and pickled cucumbers, all dressed with mayonnaise.

6. Vinegret: Russian Vegetable Salad

One more typically Russian salad you should definitely try is delicious "vinegret". This vegetable salad is perfect all year round, consisting of boiled beetroot, potatoes, and carrots, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, a little bit of onion, and sometimes peas, all dressed with sunflower or olive oil. Just as the popular Olivier salad, "vinegret" is served as an appetizer on celebration tables in Russia and post-Soviet countries. Be sure, the sweetish taste of this colorful salad will linger on in your memory!

7. Buckwheat: Russian Side Dishes

Speaking of more dishes inevitable on a daily table of a Russian family, you'll find porridge in every home! Locals cook a wide variety of cereals and use the word "kasha" almost for any kind of porridge. Being one of the most popular Russian "kasha" types, buckwheat is used as a garniture for many dishes, including meat and chicken, or can be a separate dish. Some Russians even mix buckwheat with milk and sugar and eat it for breakfast. This combination is especially loved by children due to its sweet taste.

8. Pickled Vegetables
Pickled Vegetables

From ancient times Russians grow huge gardens of their own fruit and vegetables and lay in extensive stores of food for the cold frosty winters. Though nowadays everything can be easily bought in the markets and shops, Russian people still keep the tradition of making pickles themselves. Thus, almost every Russian family has a garage or a sub-basement with dozens of glass cans of pickled cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and other vegetables. In fact, pickles are an ideal supplement to any celebration or everyday table!

9. Kvass: Russian Soft Drinks

When it comes to typical Russian drinks, you should take advantage of your trip to Russia and catch the chance to taste "kvass". This fermented beverage is made from ordinary rye bread. Refreshing "kvass" is widely drunk during the summertime. In case you explore Russia during the hot months, you are likely to come across old-fashioned trucks selling "kvass" on the streets. Moreover, this drink is used as a basis for the Russian cold soup "okroshka", originated in the Volga region. How about refreshing yourself with a glass of authentic "kvass"?

10. Russian Vodka

And, of course, our Russian food rating won't be complete without mentioning the most famous local drink known worldwide, Russian vodka. According to the legend, vodka first appeared on the territory of Russia in the 14th century thanks to monk Isidore from the monastery inside the Moscow Kremlin. Nowadays, vodka stands among the most consumed alcoholic drinks not only in its motherland but around the globe, being actively used in many cocktails and coming in different variations like blueberry vodka, red pepper vodka, honey vodka, etc.