Latvian cuisine can be called peasant. Most of the dishes are prepared on the basis of pearl barley, legumes, vegetables, pork, fish. Soups are widespread in Latvia. The peculiarity of the recipes is the rare original combinations of ingredients.
Specificity of Latvian cuisine
Latvian dishes are characterized by an unusual combination of products. Residents of the country eat herring with cottage cheese, make soup from beer, serve jelly from bread.
The national gastronomic traditions were influenced by the neighboring Baltic states, Belarus, Sweden. Smoked dishes, pickles, pickles, pickled vegetables came from Germany.
Since Latvia is located close to the sea, fish dishes prevail in its national cuisine.
Traditional Latvian food is high in calories. Latvians eat a lot of homemade meat products, vegetables, herbs, and prefer fatty concentrated sauces as seasonings based on butter and cream.
The daily menu of Latvian families includes hot fish and meat dishes, vegetables served as stews, casseroles. Natural drinks are consumed in Latvia: teas, coffee, juices.
The history of development
Many recipes from the national cuisine of Latvia are rooted in the Middle Ages, the way of life of villages and households. The peasants ate affordable products: meat, fish, milk, cereals.
In the XIV century. Jewish and Polish dishes began to appear: stuffed fish, goose neck, food cooked in goose fat. The tradition of using lard in cooking as a long-lasting product comes from Swedish cuisine.
After the unification with Lithuania, Poland into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, joining Russia and the era of conquests by Sweden and Germany, the country’s culinary customs were supplemented with new features and recipes of foreign states.
A puritanical attitude to food came from Germany: it was not customary to cook gourmet dishes. In this regard, the gastronomic culture of Latvia was distinguished by its simplicity. The influence of Germany was so strong that German recipes prevailed in the first cookbooks of Latvian chefs.
However, over time, the cuisine of Latvia has acquired distinctive features.
Main products in Latvia
Basically, Latvians prepare food from meat, fish, dairy products, cereals, beans, rye, wheat flour, vegetables and berries. In Latvia, apple orchards are widespread, the fruits of which form the basis of many dessert dishes.
Seafood and fish
The country is located on the coast, so seafood dishes are a popular food. Freshwater fish is also in demand. The favorite varieties of the people of this country are cod, perch, herring, mackerel, herring, salmon, bream, pike, flounder, carp.
Herring is cooked over charcoal or grill. She is an ingredient for salads, sandwiches. Dishes made from scallops, octopus, squid, shrimp, cuttlefish, and abalone are widespread.
Delicious milk soup is prepared with hake. Hake is boiled, potatoes with onions and spices are added to the broth. In the final stages of cooking, milk is poured into the soup.
Smoked mackerel, seasoned with garlic and spices, is used to prepare a rare dish “Roja delicacy”.
Residents of Latvia eat pork, beef, lamb, chicken. Pork is used to prepare jelly and baked shank. The meat is eaten as a casserole with crushed potatoes. They prefer stewed chicken (dish “Camaro”). Cereals (barley) are a good side dish for smoked meat.
One of the popular meat dishes is onion klops. It is made on the basis of beef. The meat is thinly cut, beaten, fried in oil. Then season with broth and sour cream sauce, top with onions and serve with boiled potatoes.
A separate place in the menu is occupied by offal. Latvians cook and eat pork ears, tails, piglets. Chefs love to serve blood pancakes fried in melted pork fat. Pancakes are offered along with lingonberry jam. Sausage is also made from blood.
Favorite vegetables of Latvians are onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, cabbage. Cabbage is presented in several varieties: sour, sweet, sweet and sour.
Vegetables are used to prepare the country’s gastronomic symbol – sklandrausis. This is a small open pie made from rye dough stuffed with vegetable puree and the addition of cottage cheese and sour cream. This kind of cake is considered a Christmas dish. It is customary to eat it with sugar, honey, butter and wash it down with milk.
Latvian chefs like to add herbs to their dishes: dill, parsley, horseradish, radish, chicory, and caraway seeds.
Legumes can be served as a main course or as a side dish. Soups and casseroles are made from peas and beans.
Gray peas are one of the traditional dishes of Latvia. Its recipe is included in the Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Gray peas are served in all Riga restaurants.
To prepare such a dish, you need to boil peas, add bacon fried with onions to it, pour with melted fat. Serve preferably with sour cream.
Round-shaped rye bread produced in Latvia is a national treasure. It is found in yoghurts, soups, desserts.
The flour product recipe has received international recognition and a European quality mark.
Rupmaise is popular, which is baked from coarse rye flour, adding caraway seeds and malt.
Beer, popular all over the world, is produced in Latvia. There are about 20 breweries in the capital of the country, Riga, and a specialized brewing museum has been opened.
All varieties are prepared from 4 main products:
Popular Latvian beer brands:
- Bauska in the dark;
- Cesu alus;
- Aldaris Luxusa;
- Bauska in the dark.
Beer is eaten with garlic or pork ears.
Riga Balsam is also a national strong drink. It is added to coffee, drunk neat, used as an ingredient for cocktails with peach, lemon juice, milk. The balm consists of 20 components, flavored with honey, oil. The drink in moderate doses can be consumed for medicinal purposes.
From raspberries, rhubarb, cloudberries, national aromatic wines are prepared in Latvia according to old recipes.
Interesting Latvian food and drinks
Latvian chefs offer various soups as first courses. Interesting and delicious ones are blueberry broth with dumplings, mushroom broth with milk.
For an appetizer, you should try cabbage in a dough, potato pancakes.
Latvian chefs offer national drinks based on birch and maple juices, honey, as well as bread kvass, oatmeal jelly, peas with the addition of curdled milk (putles), rhubarb with milk.
Putra, which has a complex composition, is made from millet or pearl barley, vegetables, fish or meat. Each ingredient is cooked in a separate bowl, then mixed together. The putra preparation technology includes the processes of maturation, fermentation, acidification. The dish takes several hours to cook.
There are different types of putra: potato putra, with barley groats, peas with bacon, pearl barley with fish.
This ancient national dish is seasoned with fermented milk products: sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt. To make it cook to the end, it is kept in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Nowadays, putra is considered a rare delicacy: it is served in only a few restaurants.
There are almost no vineyards on the territory of the country.
Therefore, forest berries are used for the production of wine:
Wine is even made from dandelions, rhubarb and the fruit of quince – northern quince.
Wine is served hot and cold, adding spices, fruits and sugar.
Potatoes with cottage cheese and herring
Latvian chefs prefer unusual recipes: combining fish and dairy products.
The “Fisherman’s Lunch” is one of the national Latvian dishes. It consists of young potatoes, herring fillets and is served with rye bread. The fish is cut and mixed with cottage cheese, sometimes additionally seasoned with sour cream and fried mushrooms.
To prepare this interesting Latvian dish, you will need beer, chicken eggs, sugar and caraway seeds. Beer is mixed with caraway seeds, boiled, and sugar is combined with egg yolk and then poured into the soup. It is optimal to eat a dish with croutons and cheese.
Beer soup is shown in the photo below.
Beer soup with croutons and cheese.
Other traditional Latvian dishes
Janov’s cheese is one of the classic dishes of Latvia. It used to be served on the longest day of the year, the summer solstice.
Cheese is made from a mixture of cottage cheese and milk, adding butter, sour cream, eggs, salt, soda, and caraway seeds to the mass. Then the mixture is heated over low heat, and when ready, put in a refrigerator or cellar to ripen. The cheese tastes spicy.
Carnikava lamprey is a Latvian delicacy. Serpentine fish has been cooked for nearly 300 years according to traditional recipes, grilled over coals or smoked. Lampreys can be stewed, pickled, baked in jelly, made into a special paste.
Lamprey is a high-calorie product. In Riga shops lampreys from Tsarnikava are sold in the form of mouth-watering canned food. It is most delicious to eat this fish with rye bread, butter, olives and lemon.
In the village of Carnikava, an annual holiday in honor of the lamprey is organized, which falls on the third Saturday in August, when the fishing season begins.
This is a Latvian herring dish. The fish is finely cut, poured over with milk, boiled hard-boiled eggs are added and crumpled. At the final stages of cooking, put oil, mustard powder, dill and mix thoroughly.
This herring mixture is stacked on thinly sliced and pre-dried rye bread. Sausages are additionally placed on top.
The dish is prepared from smoked loin, sausage, potatoes, milk and eggs. Meat and potatoes are spread in a pan, poured with a milk-egg mixture and baked in an oven or oven.
This soup is a dessert dish made from fresh rye bread. The food is served in a glass goblet. Berry jam is placed on the bottom, then a layer of whipped cream. Sprinkle with rye crumbs on top. Further, the layers are continued several times.
As a berry additive, you can use dried fruits, cranberries.
The Baltic beetroot soup is prepared with the obligatory addition of smoked cod. For cooking, in addition to fish, beets, burgundy onions, cucumbers, eggs, apples, herbs, olive oil and sour cream are used.
Beets are boiled first. Bread is added to the resulting broth, insisted for several hours in the refrigerator. Then the flour product is taken out and put into the soup an apple, cucumber, salt, pepper. Onions, herbs, eggs are prepared and cut separately, fried in oil, mixed and poured with beet broth.
Buberts is considered a popular dessert. It is made from semolina, milk, eggs, sugar and a little salt are added. Buberts are served in a deep bowl, seasoned with cranberry sauce, and covered with grated chocolate.
Another popular sweet dish is apple pie. For its preparation, in addition to apples, you need flour, eggs, butter, sugar and soda. First, butter is drowned in a saucepan, yolks, pounded with sugar, flour, soda are put in it.
All ingredients are mixed until a thick homogeneous mass, and then apples are placed in the dough. This dough is spread on a baking sheet tightly covered with bread crumbs and baked.
Latvian peppered biscuits, piparkukas, are also a favorite dessert of the locals. It is made in the form of various shapes from flour, eggs, sugar, butter with a generous addition of spices.
In Riga, you can try other types of sweet treats:
- rice pudding;
- cake with cranberries or raspberries “Alexander”;
- Riga bagels;
- Karums – cheese and cottage cheese bars.
Festive dishes in Latvia
On holidays, Latvians eat gray peas, various pies, homemade cheese and rye bread. During the Ligo holiday, Latvians drink 5% of the annual beer consumption. On the holiday in honor of the end of the field work, Martin’s Day, a boiled rooster or goose is served.
According to tradition, there should be 9 dishes on the Christmas table, and among them – a boiled pig’s head, fish as symbols of happiness, love, wealth.
Bigos is considered a festive Christmas dish – sauerkraut with cutlets, potatoes and sour cream. Some cooks prefer to stew bigos with minced meat in lard, add caraway seeds.
Bigos is a dish with sauerkraut.
Simple homemade recipes
Most of the traditional Latvian dishes are easy to prepare at home. If you follow the recipes, you will be able to taste the national food of Latvians without visiting Latvia.
Roast with marinated pork
For 3 servings of the dish, you will need products: 600 g of pork (brisket), 6 potatoes, 1 onion, 0.5 bell pepper, 1 clove of garlic, 0.5 bunch of dill, 3 tbsp. sour cream, 1 tbsp. vinegar, lemon juice, 1 tsp each. mustard, adjika, 0.5 tsp each sugar, hops-suneli, 2 pinches of seasoning, salt to taste.
- Chop pork, salt, add suneli hops, fenugreek. Chop the onion, place on the meat.
- For the marinade, combine vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, sugar, adjika. Pour the resulting mixture over the meat and onions, stir. Leave to marinate for 2 hours.
- Put boiled potatoes on the bottom of a baking dish, mix with sour cream, herbs, garlic.
- Fry the meat in a skillet until half cooked. Place on top of the potatoes.
- Bake the dish until tender in the oven (temperature – 180 ° C).
When the meat is almost ready, sprinkle with paprika.
High-calorie roast with marinated pork.
Meatball soup “Viens, look, tris!”
You will need food for 5 servings: 2 liters of water, 0.5 kg of beets, 0.3 kg of ground beef; 2 onions, carrots, egg, bunch of dill and parsley, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp. l. tomato paste and vinegar, 2 bay leaves, to taste – salt and black peppercorns.
- Place the minced meat in a deep bowl. Place a raw egg and grated onion there.
- Separate the legs from the parsley and dill and set them aside. Chop the leaves of greens, put them in the minced meat together with salt and pepper. Stir.
- Use minced meat to make meatballs.
- Toss the black peppercorns and bay leaves in boiling water, then place the meatballs in the boiling water in succession. Skim off, cook over moderate heat, do not cover.
- Grate the carrots, chop the second onion and sprigs of dill and parsley. Fry these vegetables in vegetable oil and add to the broth.
- Boiled beets need to be grated and poured into broth. Add tomato paste, grated garlic there, salt. Cook under the lid.
After the soup has boiled, you need to put a spoonful of vinegar in it to fix the color. The soup is served sprinkled with herbs and sour cream.
Latvian soup with meatballs “Viens, divi, tris!”
Fish in sour cream-cucumber sauce
For 3 servings of a hot dish, you will need 400 g of cod (or pollock, haddock), 250 ml of water, 80 g of pickled cucumber, onion, 3 tbsp. fat sour cream, 1 tbsp. flour and vegetable oil, to taste – salt, caraway seeds, herbs, black pepper.
- Chop cod, onion, cucumber.
- Fry onions in vegetable oil, add cucumbers. Pour 200 ml of hot water, simmer under a closed lid for 5 minutes.
- Mix the sour cream with flour and the remaining 50 ml of water. Add this mixture to onions and cucumbers. Boil, add salt and sugar if necessary. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes, stir.
- Add black pepper, caraway seeds to the sauce. Place the pieces of fish in a skillet, close the lid. After 3 minutes, turn the fish over, close the lid again, turn off the stove.
The dish should sit for about 5 minutes to make the fish juicier. It is served with boiled potatoes and herbs.
Juicy fish in sour cream-cucumber sauce.
Cold soup “Vasara”
To prepare 4 servings of summer cold soup, you will need 2 beets, 200 g of sausage, 2 eggs, 3 cucumbers, 5 radishes, a bunch of greens, 2 tablespoons each. vinegar, salt, sugar; 2 bay leaves, 3 cloves, 3 allspice, mayonnaise to taste.
- Prepare and finely chop vegetables, herbs, sausage, eggs.
- Boil the beets, chop thinly or grate.
- Marinade for beets: put 2 tablespoons in 300 ml of water. vinegar, pepper, cloves, bay leaves, sugar, salt. Boil the marinade, refrigerate, place the beets in it. Leave it on for 2 hours.
- Combine vegetables and other ingredients, dilute with cold water.
Sour cream and garlic are added to the soup when serving.
Cold soup “Vasara” with beets.
Latvian apple pancakes
For dessert you will need 2 eggs, 125 ml of 10% cream, 75 ml of milk, 30 g of butter, 80 g of flour, 1 tbsp. l. sugar, 2 g salt, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 apple, 2 tbsp. l. oils. For serving – 2 tsp. cinnamon, 50 g icing sugar, honey and sour cream to taste.
- Separate the proteins from the yolks.
- Pour milk, cream into the prepared dishes, put a piece of butter. Melt butter in the microwave.
- Pour the liquid with butter into a bowl, add sugar, yolks, mix.
- Whisk egg whites and salt until foamy.
- Pour flour and baking powder into the milk mixture, stir. Add the grated apple, stir again.
- Add proteins to the dough.
- Preheat a frying pan, brush with vegetable oil. Pour in 3-4 tbsp. l. test. Make sure the dough spreads over the surface. Bake until the pancake bubbles. Turn over, bake the other side and place on a plate.
- Bake the pancakes from the rest of the dough.
Top with pancakes sprinkled with ground cinnamon, powdered sugar. They are eaten with honey, sour cream.