A distinctive feature of Belarusian cuisine is the widespread use of potatoes. However, its culinary traditions are not only in this. Dishes of Belarusian cuisine have original features.
Characteristics of Belarusian cuisine
The cuisine of Belarus is simple and high-calorie. It uses legumes, vegetables, sausages, lard, mushrooms and berries. Meat dishes are most often prepared from pork. Sometimes beef, veal and even meat of wild animals are used: wild boar, moose, hare.
Belarusian cuisine is distinguished by a small number of dairy dishes and sweets. Seasonings are also used in a limited way. Sweet dishes are replaced by traditional drinks: kissels, berry juices and compotes.
Many recipes for Belarusian cuisine originate from pagan times: kulaga, oatmeal jelly, etc. Despite centuries-old traditions, the national features of the cooking of Belarus developed only by the end of the XIX century. They have long preserved the food traditions once adopted by their ancestors.
Initially, the cuisine of the western regions differed from the culinary customs of the eastern part of the country. The same dishes were prepared differently in different places.
The northeastern part was mostly inhabited by commoners who preferred simple peasant food. In the west lived the nobility, in the dishes of which there was a large amount of meat.
However, since the XVII century. these differences were smoothed out due to the emergence of a large social stratum of burghers.
Belarus is located between East and West, so in its cuisine there are folk dishes from nearby Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia. In addition, in 1791, Catherine the Great established the Pale of Settlement, as a result of which many Jews appeared in the country.
The abundance of rivers on the territory of the state led to the presence in the diet of Belarusians of dishes from river fish. It is used to prepare soups, minced meatballs and other food.
Large areas of Belarus are occupied by forests. They grow berries and mushrooms, which are widely eaten.
Agriculture, traditionally developed in Belarus, brings vegetables, fruits, legumes.
Nuances of cooking in Belarus
The climatic conditions of Belarus allow to grow a limited range of fruits. This disadvantage is compensated by numerous methods of their preparation.
Most often, cooking, stewing, baking are used for cooking.
Previously, frying was considered an economically unprofitable method of heat treatment. Until now, only some dishes are cooked in a frying pan.
Traditional Belarusian cuisine is characterized by maximum grinding of products or their boiling to a mushy state. For example, potatoes prefer to be grated rather than cut. Oatmeal for jelly is boiled.
Meat, on the contrary, in most national dishes is baked in large pieces. It can be lamb, pork ham, piglet or whole chicken carcass.
The combination of diametrically opposite directions – strong grinding and cooking in large pieces – is a distinctive feature of the Belarusian cuisine.
Main components: list of products
Potatoes, which are considered the main product in Belarus, appeared on its territory only in the XVII century.
- beets and their tops;
- mushrooms and berries;
- flour and cereals;
Now potatoes are eaten boiled or fried, grated, with meat, homemade sausages, with sauces and pickles.
In addition to potatoes, the following products are present in the diet of Belarusians:
- vegetables – cabbage, beets, pumpkin, zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, etc .;
- meat – pork, chicken, beef, rabbit meat;
- flour and cereals.
The national traditions of Belarus have been preserved for centuries. The culinary preferences of nearby peoples are transformed in accordance with the products produced and the tastes of the local population. Despite the fact that the cuisine of Belarus acquired independent features only in the XIX century, it is recognizable all over the world.
Previously, Belarusians ate meat products only on holidays. The rest of the time, lard was consumed, which was salted along with the skin.
Belarusians are very fond of meat dishes.
Today, meat is widely used in cooking. Most often it is pork. It makes raw-dried sausages, polendvice – dried pork with spices, vänlin – slightly smoked ham. They also use beef, chicken, lamb.
The Belarusian national dish is made from a large piece of baked meat. Sometimes it’s a ham, a whole chicken or a rabbit.
Minced pork is stuffed with pancakes, dumplings, sorcerers.
Lard is widely used. It is made slightly salted, always with a skin. Most often, lard is eaten in winter, with bread and garlic.
With meat dishes, various sauces are served, for example, sour cream with onions and cracklings fried in pork lard, cumin and black pepper.
Milk dishes in Belarus have always been consumed in small quantities. One of them is grout. These are pieces of dough or chopped potatoes with flour boiled in milk.
Cottage cheese serves as a filling for pancakes and pies. Sour cream is often used. Dumplings, pancakes, sorcerers eat with it.
Sauerkraut dishes are widespread. Beetroot tops, prepared in this way, used to be used for cooking cold.
Sour cabbage is often consumed. It is fermented with cranberries, carrots, cumin.
The first dishes of Belarus are cooked thick. They are eaten both hot and cold. In summer, holodenik is popular – a soup of beets, cucumber and green onions with the addition of boiled eggs and sour cream.
Of the hot first courses, pumpkin garbuzok with pork and lard is interesting. Pearl soup with mushrooms is also cooked, from which kvass used to be made.
Belarusian cuisine is not complete without delicious soups, both cold and hot.
Among the recipes of ancient cuisine is a hernia. This is a rutabaga soup with the addition of dried pork. When beer came into vogue in the VII-VIII centuries, they began to prepare soup from it. Pea soup is often cooked.
Baked goods are represented by the dziady pie. It is made with raisins and dates, and the filling consists of apple jam. They form a pie of large sizes – for all eaters.
In addition to it, knish is prepared – pastries with cottage cheese, jam or cracklings. Meat pie is called “smaznya”, or “smazhen”. It is made small in size.
In the old days, the main desserts in Belarus were berry jelly.
Noteworthy dishes based on flour. These are pancakes and pancakes with sweet fillings: jam, honey, cottage cheese, berries.
One of the most popular desserts is kulaga. It resembles a thick jelly of berries. Apples stuffed with cottage cheese with honey and raisins are often prepared.
According to Belarusian cooks, seasonings shade the taste of the dish, so their range is limited. Pepper, cardamom, cloves and cumin are used in small quantities. Some recipes contain cinnamon. Often, instead of seasoning, dried mushrooms are used, ground into powder.
Among the drinks, kvass stands out. In Belarus, it is fermented birch or maple sap.
In the cold season, they drink hot sbiten. The classic version is non-alcoholic. It is prepared from honey dissolved in hot water, or a decoction of birch leaves, adding spices.
Kvass and vzvar are the best drinks of Belarusian cuisine.
Another national drink is mead – fermented honey brew. It’s an alcoholic beverage. Its strength is 15 °.
Popular drinks in Belarusian cuisine are berry fruit drinks and compotes, birch sap.
Many dishes immediately cause associations with Belarus.
Pancakes are traditional pancakes that are made from potatoes and salt. Belarusian tubers are starchy and do not need to add eggs for gluing. Flour and other ingredients are not required to be introduced into the mass. Sometimes you can add cracklings or minced meat.
Potatoes are pre-peeled, washed and grated. If there is a lot of juice, it can be slightly squeezed.
Pancakes are fried and then eaten with sour cream. Sometimes before serving, they are put in a clay pot and lightly simmered in the oven or oven.
One of the desserts in Belarus is kulaga. It is a baked mixture of crushed forest berries with rye flour and a spoonful of honey. It is served chilled. It’s delicious to eat kulaga along with pancakes.
The grandmother is baked in the oven. This dish consists of grated potatoes and minced meat. It is similar to the Russian casserole, only raw tubers are used instead of mashed potatoes.
A layer of meat filling is located between the layers of grated potatoes, to which an egg is added.
To make cracklings, finely cut pork belly, in which lard is interspersed with meat. The pieces are salted and strongly fried in a frying pan until a golden crust appears. In this case, the meat will release fat.
Cracklings are poured over boiled potatoes.
The dish became known thanks to the cook of the Polish king. These are pieces of sausage and lard stewed in gravy. For her, mushrooms and vegetables are added to the meat broth: celery, carrots. Sometimes pork ribs are put in the sauce.
This dish is a more satisfying version of the omelet. Flour is added to the beaten eggs. Sometimes they put cracklings, meat trimmings or potatoes there. Everything is salted and baked in a frying pan.
Pancakes are thin, like translucent paper, pancakes with filling. They are simmered in butter and sugar.
Cottage cheese, meat, cabbage, mushrooms, potatoes are wrapped in the leaves. They are almost tasteless and resemble lavash.
Krambambulea is a strong alcoholic beverage with the addition of spices. In the old days, not a single feast could do without it. Krambambulya is made from vodka, honey and spices.
There are several recipes for this Belarusian dish. However, they are all similar in one thing: for cooking, they take a large piece of meat or a whole carcass of chicken, a young pig. It is simmered in the oven for a long time.
Small-hoof-like pieces of potato dough are called “hooves.” They are first baked in the oven and then boiled. When served, the dish is poured with melted lard with fried onions.
This summer cold soup has been present in the cuisine of Belarus since ancient times. In the process of cooking, beet tops are used – leaves and petioles of young beets. In the old days, the soup was cooked on water or birch kvass. Now kefir is often added to it.
This soup is in the cooking of neighboring countries: Poland, Lithuania. It is based on oatmeal infusion. Zhurek is made dairy, meat or lean. To prepare it, oatmeal is poured with water and left for 2-3 days. The mixture is strained, the rest of the ingredients are added to the resulting infusion: meat, sausage, potatoes, egg, sometimes milk or onions.
Dumplings resemble dumplings without meat. They are prepared from finely grated potatoes, to which an egg and salt are added. From the resulting mass, small balls the size of a walnut are formed. Then they are boiled. Serve dumplings with sour cream, cracklings or fried onions.
Dumplings are often added to chicken soup. It’s good to eat jurek with them.
Traditional machanka is a thick meat sauce with which pancakes are poured.
Most often, when serving, sausage, pieces of boiled pork or ribs are placed on a plate. It’s a delicious, hearty dish.
The composition of the summer soup includes beets, eggs, fresh cucumber, radishes and green onions. Now kefir is often added to it, but in the old kitchen sorrel or kvass was used to prepare the dish. Eggs are usually put in the soup, cut into halves.
Today, the range of products used in the country’s cooking has expanded significantly. The cuisine of modern Belarus borrowed many dishes from European countries. However, traditional pancakes, machanka, dumplings, etc. are still common in cooking.
Dairy products are consumed more often. Cafes and restaurants have appeared where you can try national Belarusian dishes. They are also used at home.