Once in any foreign country, you cannot miss a chance to familiarize yourself with local cuisine. Russia is not an exception, especially considering the huge history and variety of food traditions and delicious meals. Indeed, to try all of them you would have needed a couple of weeks free staying in Russia, eating out in all the national cafes or dining (and, surely, ‘vodking’, so to say) with Russian families and being ready to gain some weight (well, obviously). In case your time is limited, or you are not a real fan of Russian food (wait for it!), Visit Russia’s team has decided to guide you through. We are going to introduce you to the most outstanding national dishes, then name some restaurants in Saint Petersburg where you can eat them and give you several tips and recommendations on the pastime related to Russian cuisine in St. Petersburg. Are you hungry? Let’s get started!
Traditional Russian dishes
Being vast and diverse in terms of climate and socio-cultural particularities, Russia has had a great variety of traditional meals that have usually contained plenty of carbs and proteins, with key ingredients like different grains, meat, and fish, such vegetables as potatoes, cabbage, carrots et cetera. Some of the dishes are not entirely Russian, but Slavic, which, however, does not make them worse! Let’s imagine you have the menu in front of you. What starter would you choose, and what dessert you would end up eating?
There is no holiday that Russians will not cook Olivier for! Widely known as Russian salad, it was invented by French chef Lucien Olivier in Moscow and has become an essential part of national culinary culture. Despite the fact its recipe is quite easy, people have not agreed on the exact list of ingredients it should be made of. While potatoes, pickles, peas, eggs, and mayo are not debatable, adding carrots and choosing between ham and chicken depends on the family tradition. Whatever you choose, you’ll definitely like this nutritious salad. Russians thought would probably fight for a correct version!
You may think we have tended to steal traditions because this famous soup made from beetroot and containing meat originally comes from Ukraine. However, this Slavic dish has become one of the essential Russian meals as well. It is usually served with sour cream and so-called pampushki – savory buns – and can be eaten hot or cold. Just to let you know: both versions are fantastic.
No remarks for this one! 100% Russian, this soup is made of pickled cucumbers, meat, and potatoes and was very popular in the Soviet era. In Leningrad, the recipe was slightly transformed and has been cooked with pearl barley. Thus, Leningrad rassolnik is a must-have if you are interested in trying all the specialties of Russian cuisine in Saint Petersburg.
Switching to the main courses, Beef Stroganoff originated three centuries ago and named after one noble family is the best option you may choose. Pieces of beef with different vegetables, often mushrooms, cooked in sour cream and served with rice or pasta – is the meal that will make you go mmm.
Russian dumplings may be found in the freezer of almost every Russian family. Traditionally meat filling is wrapped in thin dough and accompanied with sour cream or a piece of butter. Today you may also get pelmeni vegetarian stuffing, but we would recommend trying the original one. The adorable smell is impossible to be described, not to mention the taste!
If you are a sweet-lover, trying this layer honey cake is something that will make you happy. After becoming popular in former Soviet countries, it is still one of the favorite desserts for Russians which is for a reason – sweet enough and amazingly smooth, it melts merely in one's mouth.
Russian buns that may be stuffed with almost any filling from sweet (ex. apple, cottage cheese, cherries) to savory (ex. cabbage, potatoes, and meat) are called pirogi or pirozhki. Having the sweet one would be a lovely dessert perfectly going with a cup of tea, while the savory ones may be eaten as starters, or… Depending on your preferences!
You can taste all these and many other specialties of Russian cuisine in all Russian cities; here is our guide of Russian cuisine restaurants in Saint Petersburg: Top Places for Tasting Russian Cuisine in Saint Petersburg