Ukrainian cuisine is the collection of the various cooking traditions of the people of Ukraine, one of the largest and most populous European countries. It is heavily influenced by the rich dark soil (chernozem) from which its ingredients come and often involves many components. Traditional Ukrainian dishes often experience a complex heating process – "at first they are fried or boiled, and then stewed or baked. This is the most distinctive feature of Ukrainian cuisine".
The national dish of Ukraine is borscht, the well-known beet soup, of which many varieties exist. However, varenyky (boiled dumplings similar to pierogi) and a type of cabbage roll known as holubtsi are also national favourites and are a common meal in traditional Ukrainian restaurants. These dishes indicate the regional similarities within Eastern European cuisine.
The cuisine emphasizes the importance of wheat in particular, and grain in general, as the country is often referred to as the "breadbasket of Europe". The majority of Ukrainian dishes descend from ancient peasant dishes based on plentiful grain resources such as rye, as well as staple vegetables such as potato, cabbages, mushrooms and beetroots. Ukrainian dishes incorporate both traditional Slavic techniques as well as other European techniques, a byproduct of years of foreign jurisdiction and influence. As there has been a significant Ukrainian diaspora over several centuries (for example, over a million Canadians have Ukrainian heritage), the cuisine is represented in European countries and those further afield, particularly Argentina, Brazil, and the USA.
Bread and grain
Traditional Ukrainian paska
Bread and wheat products are important to Ukrainian cuisine. The country has been considered one of the traditional "breadbaskets" of the world. Decorations on the top can be elaborate for celebrations.
- Babka: Easter bread, usually a sweet dough with raisins and other dried fruit. It is usually baked in a tall, cylindrical form.
- Bublik: ring-shaped bread roll made from dough that has been boiled before baking. It is similar to bagel, but usually somewhat bigger and with a wider hole.
- Kolach: ring-shaped bread typically served at Christmas and funerals. The dough is braided, often with three strands representing the Holy Trinity. The braid is then shaped into a circle (circle = kolo in Ukrainian) representing the circle of life and family.
- Korovai: a round, braided bread, similar to the kalach. It is most often baked for weddings and its top decorated with birds and periwinkle.
- Palianytsia: regular baked bread (famously difficult to pronounce for non-Ukrainian speakers).
- Pampushky: soft, fluffy bread portions topped with garlic butter.
- Paska: traditional rich pastry.
Varenyky stuffed with meat, served with fried onions and sour cream
Kruchenyky served with kasha and a mushroom sauce
- Banush: a cornmeal stew.
- Varenyky (also called pyrohy in some regions of Western Ukraine): dumplings made with fillings such as mashed potatoes and fried onions, boiled ground meat and fried onions, liver and fried onions, fried cabbage with fried onions, quark, cherries, and strawberries. Served with sour cream and butter or sugar, when filled with fruits.
- Pyrizhky: baked buns stuffed with different fillings, such as ground meat, liver, eggs, rice, onions, fried cabbage or sauerkraut, quark, cherries etc.
- Pyrih: a big pie with various fillings.
- Holubtsi: cabbage or vine leaves (fresh or sour) rolled with rice filling and may contain meat (minced beef or bacon), baked in oil and caramelized onions and may contain as a baking sauce tomato soup, cream or sour cream, bacon drippings or roasted with bacon strips on top.
- Mlyntsi or nalisnyky: thin pancakes usually filled with quark, meat, cabbage, fruits, served with sour cream.
- Stuffed duck or goose with apples.
- Roast meat (pechenya): pork, veal, beef or lamb roast.
- Fish (ryba): fried in egg and flour; cooked in oven with mushrooms, cheese, and lemon; marinaded, dried or smoked variety.
- Guliash: refers to stew in general, or specifically Hungarian goulash.
- Kotlety/Sichenyky (cutlets, meatballs): minced meat or fish mixed with eggs, onions, garlic, breadcrumbs, and milk, fried in oil and sometimes rolled in breadcrumbs.
- Kotleta po-kyivsky: Kyiv-style chicken cutlet.
- Kruchenyky or Zavyvantsi: pork or beef rolls with various stuffing: mushrooms, onions, eggs, cheese, sauerkraut, carrots, etc.
- Kasha hrechana zi shkvarkamy: buckwheat cereal with pork rinds and onion.
- Potato (kartoplia, also barabolia or bulba): young or peeled, served with butter, sour cream, dill; a more exclusive variety includes raw egg.
- Deruny: potato pancakes, usually served with rich servings of sour cream.