Traditional Lithuanian cuisine is based on simple and affordable products. It offers a wide variety of nutritious dishes that you can taste while traveling in the Baltic state or prepare yourself. The National Recipe Book offers not only meat-based food, but also a lean menu, complemented by drinks.
Distinctive features of cuisine in Lithuania
The formation of the national cuisine was influenced by the geographical location of the country in a cool and humid climate.
Lithuanian cuisine offers delicious and hearty dishes.
Its main features:
- frequent use of potatoes on the menu;
- lack of hot spices in food;
- an abundance of meat dishes prepared mainly from pork;
- simple and affordable recipe;
- moderate use of spices (mainly marjoram and caraway seeds);
- supplementing dishes with dill, parsley;
- use in baking of nutmeg, lemon peel;
- use for sauces of local mushrooms, sour cream, cheeses.
The national cuisine is suitable for people who prefer simple homemade or country food. Lithuanian dishes are fatty and hearty, because the chefs use lard instead of vegetable oil.
Foods used in food preparation are high in calories and nutritious properties. They quickly saturate and restore strength, contain many biologically active substances and amino acids.
The benefits of individual dishes:
- cold soups preserve vitamins, strengthening the immune system and cleansing the body of toxins;
- hot first courses do not load the digestive tract, stimulate metabolism;
- baked food does not irritate the pancreas;
- fruits and berries improve appetite;
- dairy products activate immunity;
- yeast-free bread saturates the body with fiber, improves the condition of the skin and nails.
History of the development of Lithuanian cuisine
The gastronomic habits of the Lithuanian people are associated with the history of the development of the Baltic state. The first mentions of it go back to the time of the unification of several tribes to resist the crusaders. Each nation has contributed to the formation of the national cuisine. In the XIV century. it was enriched with spices brought from the territory of the Ottoman Empire. The taste of the dishes has become more intense and closer to the modern one.
The entry of the territory into the Rzecz Pospolita changed the lives of the wealthy citizens of Lithuania. Feasts became their habit, during which exquisite dishes were served. During this period, the country’s cuisine became popular in Europe. The book “Lithuanian Foods” was published in Russia in 1740. It described the best national dishes with recipes. Following the advice of the chefs, one could cook eel or bull stuffed with veal, mashed soups, borscht, sorcerer (dumplings).
Old Lithuanian cuisine existed from the 14th to the 18th centuries, reflecting the tastes of the gentry and offering exquisite delicacies. She combined Russian, Polish, Germanic and Tatar traditions, became the ancestor of snacks. The formation of the Novolitovsk menu took place in the 19th century, after the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was based on nutritious meals made from ingredients found in the household of ordinary people.
Basic cooking methods in Lithuania
The traditional Lithuanian menu is based on dishes that have been borrowed from other cultures and improved by chefs. Food is prepared fresh, practically without adding salt, in the following ways:
- Frying. Gives products a golden brown crust and a pleasant aroma.
- Quenching. Cooking the ingredients with a small amount of liquid and fat under the lid makes the food soft and juicy.
- Baking. It is carried out in a stove, oven, brazier, on coals from a fire.
- Pickling. The processing method allows you to obtain dishes with a spicy taste.
- Cooking. This method is used to prepare liquid dishes, cereals, compotes, broths.
- Salting. The ambassador makes fish and vegetables resistant to bacteria, ensuring their long-term storage.
- Drying. Cold drying technology is the gradual dehydration of products.
- Smoking. The hot smoke treatment gives vegetables, fish and meat a distinct aroma and prolongs the shelf life.
What products are used most often
Ingredients suitable for cool and humid climates are used in the preparation of Lithuanian cuisine. According to the taste preferences of residents, the country can be divided into 4 districts:
- Suvays who make smoked meats;
- Samogitians, connoisseurs of cereals, smoked fish;
- Dzukians with a diet of cereals, potatoes, mushrooms;
- aukstaitinai, ready to offer guests cottage cheese, pancakes, pastries.
Dairy and fermented milk
Sour cream, cheese, whey and other milk products in Lithuania learned to cook in the Middle Ages.
Cottage cheese and cream are eaten on their own or used to prepare second courses, desserts, and snacks.
Milk is used to make butter and fermented milk products, which are eaten with salads, desserts, soups, and added to baked goods. Buttermilk and yogurt are traditional dishes for Lithuanians.
Potatoes were introduced to the country at the end of the 18th century, and they quickly became widespread. Tubers are boiled, fried and baked, added to salads and thick soups, pie filling, cereal dishes. The vegetable is competed with rutabagas, legumes, cabbage and beets.
Lithuanians prepare a wide variety of potato dishes.
In cooking, Lithuanians use cereals based on barley (pearl barley, barley) and millet, as well as peas. They are added to dishes with vegetables and meat for a more satisfying meal. For the preparation of bread, kvass and cereals, rye is used, which grows well in cool climates. In the forest region of Dzukija, dishes are prepared from buckwheat.
Meat and game
Lithuanians cook food from pork, beef, goose, turkey, duck. On their table may be present dishes from feathered game, wild boar and elk meat. The product is fried, stewed, grilled, roasted, ham is made from it. Since the XVI century. a variety of sausages is produced – skilandis. Fish (Baltic herring, Baltic herring, pike or burbot) are baked whole, fried, used for aspic.
Salmon from Norway has been entering the country since the 19th century. It is served with a creamy sauce. Raki is offered as a traditional snack with local beer.
Fruits, berries, mushrooms
In the gardens of the country, apple, pear and plum trees grow, gooseberries and currants are cultivated. Compotes are cooked from the harvested crop, jams are prepared. On the basis of raspberries, wine and ice cream are made. Apple cheese is considered a gourmet delicacy for Christmas. Wild berries (lingonberry, cranberry, strawberry) are used fresh. Mushrooms (porcini, boletus, chanterelles) are used to prepare fillings, cream soups, minced meat, salads, stews based on meat and vegetables.
Traditional Lithuanian dishes
Lithuanian cuisine is in many ways similar to the dishes of the Scandinavian and Eastern countries. However, for many centuries it has retained its originality. You can be convinced of this when familiarizing yourself with national treats.
Potato zrazy (Zippelins – Didžkukuliai) is the main national dish of Lithuania. Previously they were called Dijkukuliai, but during the Second World War they were renamed Zeppelins due to their similarity with the German airships of the same name. For the preparation of the dish, raw and boiled potatoes are used, from which the dough is made. The filling is minced meat, mushrooms or cottage cheese. The ingredients are used to make elongated patties, which are boiled in water like dumplings. The dish is served with greaves sauce.
Zeppelin and zemaicu pancakes are Lithuanian dishes that are famous all over the world.
For the preparation of the dish, a dough based on boiled potato tubers is used. Cakes are made from it, which are filled with fried minced meat and crushed, getting a spring roll. The semi-finished product is rolled in breadcrumbs and fried in butter until golden brown. Served with sour cream or cracklings.
The dish is a pork stomach filled with minced or minced meat. Initially, the tenderloin or fillet is cut into elongated slices and salted. Having sustained the meat for a day under pressure, the stomach is stuffed with it. The semi-finished product is also placed under oppression in a cool place and stored for 3 days.
Before smoking, the product is suspended to dry the surface. Then it is smoked in a cold way for a week.
The resulting skilandis is cut into thin slices before serving and offered with stewed cabbage. It is also added to borscht, cabbage soup with pearl barley, which gives the dishes a rich taste.
Potato sausage is made from a mixture of mashed potatoes and lard, which is stuffed with pork intestine. Caraway seeds, black pepper are added to the filling. After boiling, the dish is fried or baked. Served with cracklings or sour cream sauce. In the recipe, you can replace the vegetable with barley grits.
The casserole is made from potatoes, chicken eggs, onions and milk. Bacon, cheese and seasoning to taste are added to the main products. After cooking, the kugelis resembles a large potato pancake. The dish is served with herbs, sour cream or mushroom sauce.
The Shakotis holiday cake is included in the list of the country’s culinary heritage. It is made from a sweet egg-based dough, so it resembles a biscuit. To form an internal cavity inside and a “branchy” form, the cake is baked on a spit in a special oven, adding liquid dough. The filling is made from chocolate or nut cream, whipped cream, fruit, ice cream.
Carrot casserole turns out to be lighter and more airy than other hearty Lithuanian dishes. The boiled root vegetable is ground with sugar, yolks and cinnamon, the yolks are gradually introduced. The resulting mass is placed on a baking sheet, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and baked. Served with milk sauce.
Rosy pigtailed pies are made from unleavened dough. The recipe for the dish is borrowed from the Karaites. Traditionally, lamb is used as a filling, but it can be replaced by beef, game, cottage cheese, mushrooms or vegetables.
The delicacy is served smoked, fried or stewed with vegetables or beer. The food goes well with garlic sauce, root vegetables, fresh vegetables.
What to bring with you from Lithuania
A gastronomic tour of the country introduces the traditional types of dishes served in restaurants and cafes. The production of national sweets, milk and meat is well developed in Lithuania, the quality of which is strictly controlled.
Food sold in grocery stores and farmers’ markets can be brought home.
Latvian cheeses are prepared using a special technology of double heating the cheese mass. This leads to the fact that the structure of the product becomes softer and more delicate, and it itself acquires a pleasant creamy taste. Visitors bring home smoked and hard cheeses with caraway seeds, soft Nemunas, and sweet apple cheese.
There are many private bakeries in Lithuania that offer aromatic bread made from different types of flour. On the way back, tourists take rye products with caraway seeds and dried fruits. They retain their freshness and aroma for a long time.
Lithuanian bread is so delicious that tourists take it home instead of souvenirs.
More than 200 types of beer are produced in the country. The guests of the country take with them the products of the Tauras or Svyturys breweries and stronger alcohol (fruit wines, Midus mead, balsams). Tincture “Three nines” with a strength of 35 ° is prepared according to the recipe of the 14th century. It includes 9 components from the ground, air and underground elements, which heal from diseases. Liqueurs for women – Krupnikas Medaus, Vysniy Zagares, Bociu by Dainava, Palanga and Sokoladin.
Simple Latvian recipes
National dishes can be prepared at home. For a hearty breakfast, try potato pancakes. Grate 5 potatoes, a small onion and a chive on a fine grater. Stir in, add a raw beaten egg, season with salt and marjoram (1 pinch). Add 1 tablespoon to a preheated cast iron pan. vegetable oil and heat it. Spread the dough in small portions, forming pancakes. Fry them over medium heat for 2.5 minutes on each side.
Serve pancakes with curd sauce. To prepare it, mix 150 g of cottage cheese, 2-3 tbsp. kefir and chopped chive. Chill the sauce before use.
In summer, you can taste Lithuanian cold borscht.
To prepare it, you need to peel and grate 3 large boiled beets, cut 4 chicken eggs and 2 fresh cucumbers into cubes. Finely chop the greens (a bunch of onions and dill). Place the food in a saucepan and stir. Add 4 tbsp to them. sour cream, season and stir. Pour in 1 liter. kefir (3.2%) and some chilled water. Close the saucepan and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour to cool the borscht and acquire a rich taste. The dish is served cold to the table. It refreshes and invigorates well.
Meat dish for lunch or dinner – bigus. To prepare it, finely chopped pork pulp should be fried until golden brown. Add salt, grated carrots, diced bacon and smoked meats (200 g). Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dilute tomato paste (1 tablespoon) with wine or water and pour into a frying pan. Season and season with salt.
After a couple of minutes, add finely chopped fresh cabbage (600 g) and the same amount of sauerkraut. Reduce the burner flame to a minimum and extinguish for about half an hour. Scald the prunes with boiling water and cut into strips. Add to dish and remove from heat. Meat and wine should be avoided during fasting or when preparing vegetarian food.
For family tea, you can make cottage cheese cookies. Mix the softened butter (300 g) with 350 g of cottage cheese. Add 550 g of sifted flour, a pinch of salt and knead the dough. Preheat the oven to 200 ° C. Roll out the dough in parallel, obtaining a cake thickness of 3-4 mm. Cut it into strips 3 cm wide and about 9 cm long. Bend the strips with horseshoes. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Place on a baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.
The usefulness of Lithuanian cuisine is confirmed by the average age of residents, which is 74.6 years. Despite the calorie content of national dishes, there are few obese people in the country. Simple and hearty dishes will complement the diet in the cold season, and will recuperate on summer days.