Top 25 Most Popular Russian Foods - Chef's Pencil (2023)

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by Polina Popova


  • Eastern European Cuisine
  • European Cuisines
Top 25 Most Popular Russian Foods - Chef's Pencil (1)

Russia is the biggest country in the world. The country has landscapes varying from snow-capped mountains to dry deserts, climates ranging from arctic to sub-tropical, and is home to a wide variety of cultures. This incredible diversity has heavily influenced Russian cuisine and made it as we know it today.

Russian cuisine has historically been very seasonal and affordable for peasants, full of fresh produce during summer and fall months and storable goods during winter and early spring.

Although old Russian foods are still popular, during the long period of geographical expansion, its cuisine began to include dishes of the peoples from Caucasus, Ural Mountains, Eastern Europe, and other neighboring regions. Today, Russian cuisine will include many dishes that are considered traditional in many neighboring countries and former parts of the Russian Empire.

So what are the 25 dishes that you might want to try if you stumble upon a Russianstolovaya(canteen) or decide to visit this vast country? Let’s find out!

1. Borscht

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Although some might argue that this dish is Ukrainian, it has become a staple soup in Russian cuisine as well. The most important ingredient of this soup is beetroot, a vegetable that gives the dish its vibrant color. Other ingredients are usually cabbage, potato, onion, carrot, and tomato paste, to give it an even brighter color.

Most oftenborschtis made with beef broth, but it is just as delicious if you start off with plain water. It’s usually served with a spoonful of sour cream, some parsley or dill on the top, and a slice of bread on the side.

2. Pelmeni (Dumplings)

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The history of this dish said to have begun in the Urals, where the indigenous peoples usedpelmenias provision during long winter hunts in the taiga, or as part of the holiday table.Pelmeniare made of minced meat or fish, mixed with herbs and chopped onion or garlic, wrapped in thin dough, and are either fried or boiled. They are often consumed with sour cream, ketchup, or mayonnaise (or a mixture, called colloquially ketchunnaise).

Pelmeniare an extremely popular dish, and they can be conveniently stored in the freezer. Enjoy the delightful taste of the filling and juice inside the dough!

3. Bliny (Crepes)

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Blinyare traditionally made with eggs, flour, and milk or kefir (a fermented milk drink), and nowadays they are mostly eaten for breakfast or on the folk holiday Maslenitsa(Butter week).

To makebliny, you need to mix the ingredients into a liquid dough and fry it as thin as possible in a pan. And guess what is served on the side. Yes,—it’s sour cream! Although some people might opt for honey orvarenye(a local variety of jam made of berries or fruit). Sometimesblinyare also made with fillings, some of the most popular ones being ham and cheese or creamy mushrooms with mashed potatoes.

By the way, you can also make vegan blinys: just swap the eggs with mashed bananas and the dairy milk with a vegan one. They’re just as good!

4. Shashlik

It’s a common sight in late spring or summer to see many people in parks all across the country makingshashlik: pieces of marinated meat fried on a skewer over burning coals. Althoughshashlikoriginated in the Caucasus, it is now a big part of Russian culture.

Shashlikis usually made with lamb, pork or chicken cut into large pieces and marinated for a few hours. The most common marinades are kefir, soy sauce or lemon juice, mixed with herbs, spices, and sometimes vegetables such as onions, garlic, or tomatoes. To accompany it, Russians like to have potatoes, baked in foil in the coals, or grilled veggies.

Typically there is also a dip of choice, for example, ketchup oradzhika, a pungent sauce from the Caucasus. Yummy!

5. Solyanka

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This soup is loved by many Russians because of its rich consistency and sour flavor. The name itself is derived from the word salt, and it’s one of the most distinctive qualities of this dish.

To make it, you need meat, mushroom, or fish broth. Then you need to mix chopped pickled cucumbers and brine into the broth and cook it for a little while more so that it becomes rich with the brine flavor. As with many other soups, the list of ingredients can vary depending on the particular household, but the most common are cabbage, potatoes, olives, lemon, onions, and, of course, a spoonful of sour cream!

6. Shchi

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This mouth-watering soup is probably one of the most ancient Russian dishes, with its history dating back to the 9th century. It is very easy to cook, and, back in the day, people would freeze it and cut into pieces to boil as needed during extensive winter travel.

Shchiis a diluted cabbage soup based on meat or fish broth. Sometimes cabbage is swapped for sauerkraut or sorrel. Other ingredients include potatoes, mushrooms, onions, carrot, and spices. Top yourshchiwith sour cream, slice a piece of rye bread, and enjoy this hearty and slightly sour soup!

7. Syrniki

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The method for cookingsyrnikiis in principle the same as forbliny: make the batter and fry it. Firstly, you should mix quark (tvorog in Russian) with flour, eggs, and sugar, and maybe raisins or apricots to add more texture and taste. Then form small pancakes in the pan and make sure the insides are cooked through while staying creamy: it gives an interesting counter-taste to the well-fried sides ofsyrniki!

Syrnikiis a sweet and savoury food, usually eaten for breakfast or dessert. These are typically served with sour cream orvarenyeon the side.

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8. Vareniki

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Varenikiare often seen as a vegetarian alternative to pelmeni, and that is not too far off: wrap some dough around sweet or savory filling, fry or boil it, and there you go.

However,varenikiare not considered a variation ofpelmeniin Russia, but a dish of Russian cuisine. For sweetvareniki, the most common fillings are quark or berries, a variety that is usually eaten for breakfast. Another type ofvarenikican be made from potatoes with mushrooms or onions or cabbage. They are very often eaten with sour cream.

9. Kasha (Porridge)

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One of the most prominent sayings about Russian cuisine roughly translates as “Shschiandkashaare our food”. And it truly is so: Russians are very fond of any kind of groats eaten for any meal of the day.

For breakfastkasha(the most common being oatmeal) is boiled with milk or water and eaten bland or with a spoonful ofvarenyeor butter. For lunch or dinner, buckwheat is the go-to option, as it is very versatile. Try mixing boiled buckwheat with fried mushrooms and onions: the combination of the caramel-like onions, juicy mushrooms, and nutritious buckwheat is one to remember.

10. Kholodets or Studen’

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Kholodetsis a food loved by many generations in Russia, even though it takes over a day to prepare! It is a jellied meat dish. To make truekholodets,your jelly should be based on greasy pork broth, without use of gelatine. Fill the bottom of the bowl with chopped pork meat and pour the broth over it. After 24 hours in the fridge your flavorful meat jelly is ready to be served!

11. Olivier/Russian Salad

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Just like the previous dish, this salad is mostly eaten on holidays, for the sake of convenience and tradition. Olivier salad is made with vegetables, meat, eggs, and generously dressed with mayo. It’s a heavy, filling, and hearty salad, most popular for New Year’s, the biggest holiday of the year in Russia.

12. Okroshka

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Commonly eaten in the summer, coldokroshkasoup delivers a refreshing taste.Okroshkais made with raw vegetables, boiled potatoes, meat or sausages, andkvass, a fermented drink made from rye bread. It’s important that the ingredients retain their shape and texture, sokvassis always added last. It’s a light soup, kind of like a very diluted salad, so it’s perfect for hot summers, when you don’t want heavy food.

13.Herring Under a Fur Coat / Dressed Herring

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This dish with its amusing name is one of the favorite foods for the holiday table. It’s a layered salad, made of salted herring, onions, boiled potatoes, carrots and beetroots, and mayo, and decorated with grated boiled eggs. It’s a heavy dish, which requires chilling in the fridge for several hours prior to being served.

Grab a slice of this salad cake and let the harmony of tastes unfold in your mouth!

14. Kvass

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Kvassis a beloved drink of Russians of almost any age. This beverage is made by fermenting rye bread and is considered non-alcoholic by Russian standards (it is always less than 2% in alcohol). The taste of kvassis somewhat pickley and mildly tart, and it’s most often consumed as a refreshingly cold drink on hot summer days.

15. Caviar

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Fish caviar is an extremely popular delicacy in Russia, with almost any holiday table having caviar as an appetizer. The most valued caviar in Russia is obtained on the Far-Eastern peninsula of Kamchatka, where the abundance of salmon provides for packed caviar stands at local markets. As caviar is an expensive delicacy, it is often eaten as bite-sized sandwiches made of white bread, butter, and a small spoonful of caviar.

16. Pozharsky Cutlet

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Cutlets carry a tang of childhood nostalgia, and that’s why they are a favorite of almost any Russian. It could be argued thatPozharsky cutletis the most popular. It combines tender and juicy minced meat with crispy bread crumbs, and it goes well with any sauce.

The secret to making this cutlet extra flavorful is soaking some white bread in milk or heavy cream and then adding it to the meat along with a piece of butter. This will make your cutlets extremely succulent!

17. Beef Stroganoff

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Beef Stroganoff is a very famous dish outside of Russia, often served at restaurants with no connection to its home country. There are now multiple recipes for this sautéed meat dish, although most of them include two primary ingredients: beef and sour cream.

The recipe can be as simple as sautéing stripes of soft beef in butter and later adding sour cream, or more complex by adding onions, mushrooms, and other ingredients to the pan. Just make sure to take your time and let the beef get thoroughly soaked in the mixture of juices and spices. Ah, it’s mouthwatering to even think about it!

18. Pirozhki

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Pirozhkiare one of the go-to deserts, comfort food and street food, as they are very easy to come by in the stores and to prepare. Just choose the filling and place it into rolled out dough.Pirozhkiare usually baked, but in the Eastern part of Russia they are more often fried. Take somepirozhkiwith you on a hike, you will appreciate the boost of energy and the tasty experience!

19. Ukha

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Soups are considered a very healthy meal in Russia, and that’s why there are so many of them, many more than mentioned here.Ukhais a traditional fish soup, consisting, in addition to the obvious primary ingredient, spices, potatoes, carrots, onions, and, less commonly, other veggies. It’s very nutritious, rich, and savory.

20. Rassolnik

Rassolnikis one of the many salty soups or foods on this list, with word rassol (brine) being so key that it even made its way to the soup’s name.

A properrassolnikis made with pickled cucumbers, brine, meat, and pearl barley. It’s very comforting, slightly sour, and very hearty. Add some sour cream to make it heavier, if you like—that will make it all the more traditionally Russian.

21. Fermented Dairy Products

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Russians got very creative with their dairy both due to the living conditions and the influence of Turkish cuisine and other cultures.

There are so many fermented dairy foods that can be found in Russian grocery stores, the most notable and wide-spread being sour cream (or smetana — Ihadto dedicate a special mention tosmetanaon this list!),kefir(sour and astringent milk drink made fromkefirgrains), andtvorog, known also as quark.

These foods are consumed daily,kefirandtvorogbeing some of the most important parts of a healthy diet in Russia. Andsmetanasimply holds a special place in every Russian’s heart, as it is such a vital addition to most dishes.

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22. Vinegret

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Vinegretis often served as a light and nutritious salad or appetizer. This salad, as it is now prepared in Russia, has strayed quite far off of its original Western European recipe.

It’s a vegetarian-friendly salad made from beets, potatoes, carrots, onion, pickled cucumbers (or, more rarely, sauerkraut), and dressed with vegetable oil. It’s sour—due to the brined pickles—and salty, and also very light and filling at the same time.

23. Pryaniki

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Pryanikiis one of the staple sweets of Russian cuisine and has been around for a very long time. It’s consistency is very similar to that of gingerbread, but the recipe involves no ginger. It is honey that is essential for a traditional pryanik recipe.

Tula pryanikis probably the most culturally-significant type ofpryaniki, so much so that it is nowadays considered an art creating properpryanikdecor in Tula city.Pryanikiare often eaten with a glass of tea. And did you know that Russia often ranks in the top 5 tea consumers of the world?!

24. Pickled Goods

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Oh how Russians enjoy eating pickled foods! It is not uncommon to find Russians in a cafe enjoying a plate of different pickles as an appetizer.

Some of the most popular original ingredients for pickling include cucumbers, garlic, tomatoes, wild garlic, and cabbage (as sauerkraut). Also brine, orrassol, is an extremely popular hangover solution, as its rich in salts, helping to restore the proper mineral balance in the body after a good night out.

25. Sbiten’

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Sbiten’is a very traditional drink in Russia, possibly one of the most ancient with its roots deep in Russian culture. It can be sweet, spicy, or both, all depending on the recipe. Honey is the key ingredient for this heart- and body-warming winter drink, which is boiled with spices and jam. It’s popularity has significantly decreased with the increase in tea consumption, but it’s being rekindled now in the 21st century.

Russian cuisine is an accurate representation of the nature, cultures, and living conditions that have surrounded Russians for a very long time. Each dish has a rich history and a whole culture and custom of consuming it. This cuisine is a mixture of flavors, aromas, and produce, where anyone can find something to enjoy and have a cultural experience at the same time.

Related: 15 Delicious Russian Cakes

Top 25 Most Popular Russian Foods - Chef's Pencil (28)

Polina Popova

Polina was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia's former grand capital and its second largest city. Having grown up in a culturally diverse city, Polina has become a geek for cultures and languages. She is an avid traveler and has visited her native Russia from North to South and East to West, along with dozens of other countries in the world.


What are some popular Russian foods? ›

Russian cuisine
  • Bliny. is a Russian type of pancakes or crepes. ...
  • Sirniki. Sirniki are small blinis made of cottage cheese. ...
  • Kasha. Kasha is the most common meal in Russia. ...
  • Pelmeni. Pelmeni are meat or fish dumplings originally coming from the region of Siberia. ...
  • Varenniki. ...
  • Pirog. ...
  • Borscht. ...
  • Okroshka.

What is a Russian staple food? ›

Porridge is one of the most important dishes in traditional Russian cuisine. The variety of cereals is based on the local variety of crops. In Russian, the word kasha refers to any kind of porridge. The most popular cereals are buckwheat, millet, semolina, oats, barley, and rice.

What is a popular Russian snack? ›

Sushki are traditional Russian snacks made from sweet dough, shaped into small rings. They consist of flour, eggs, water, sugar, and salt. The name sushki is derived from the Russian word sushit, meaning to dry, referring to the rock-hard texture of these rings.

What's a typical Russian breakfast? ›

Traditional Russian breakfast features their famous big & thin pancakes (Blini), cottage cheese pancakes (Syrniki), buckwheat porridge (Kasha), and more goodness!

What do Russians eat for dinner? ›

A typical Russian dinner consists of one or two appetizers and a hot main dish, which might be potatoes, meat, or fish. After dinner, Russians like to drink tea with sugar or jam.

What spices Does Russia use? ›

In addition to traditional spices, Russians now enjoy flavoring foods with imported items such as ginger, coriander, cinnamon, saffron, calamus, cumin and cloves.

What did Russians eat before potatoes? ›

In the 9th century the most common ingredients were turnip (репа), cabbage (капуста), radish (редька), peas (горох), cucumbers (огурцы). They were eaten raw, baked, steamed, salted, marinated. Potatoes did not appear until the 18th century, and tomatoes until the 19th century.

Are Doritos made in Russia? ›

Some brands you won't find in Russia: Doritos Corn Chips (Made inroads as an import, then collapsed with sanctions.) Fritos. Ritz: Crackers and Bitz.

What is Russia famous for? ›

The world's largest country has the longest railway, second-largest art museum in the world and is home to many billionaires.

What is Russia's national drink? ›

Russia: Kvass is a traditional fermented non-alcoholic beverage commonly made from rye bread, and while kvass is seen as the national non-alcoholic drink, it is vodka that most Russians identify as their national alcoholic beverage. Like in Poland, Russians consider their nation to be vodka's birthplace.

What is Russia's favorite drink? ›

Tea. Tea has a significant role in Russian culture. Due to the cold Northern climate, it became the most popular drink, and today is considered a national drink of Russia. Locals love to drink tea always and everywhere!

What kind of food is Russian cuisine? ›

Russian cuisine is a collection of the different cooking traditions of the Russian Empire. The cuisine is diverse, with Northeast European/Baltic, Caucasian, Central Asian, Siberian, East Asian and Middle Eastern influences. Russian cuisine derives its varied character from the vast and multi-ethnic expanse of Russia.

What do Russians drink in the morning? ›

Russia is traditionally a tea drinking country. During Soviet Union time most people were choosing black tea as their preferred hot beverage for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tea was usually consumed with two tea spoons of sugar and lemon. Some people preferred to add milk to their tea instead of lemon.

How do you greet a Russian woman? ›

There's a well-known Russian greeting tradition: the triple cheek-kiss. It's usually common between close relatives. Sometimes, it's shortened to two kisses. One cheek kiss is often used by girls to greet friends, or even close female coworkers.

What do Russians drink with meals? ›

Drink Tea at Every Occasion

If you are Russian any reason is a good reason to drink tea. As a rule of thumb you drink tea in the morning and then after every meal throughout the day.

Do Russians eat a lot of eggs? ›

Eggs, omelette, boiled eggs

Some Russians like to eat their eggs boiled, whereas others like to make an omelette out of them. Preparations vary, but almost all Russians love eggs.

How many times do Russians eat a day? ›

Generally, Russian people have three meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In Russia, it doesn't take much time to cook breakfast or to eat it. As a matter of fact, Russians aren't used to eating a lot in the morning. An average breakfast consists of an omelet, sandwiches, corn flakes or something like that.

Do Russians eat a lot of sweets? ›

Russians do indeed have a sweet tooth. One of the reason behind that could be our climate. Sweets are high in calories. People who live in cold climate tend to consume more of the sweet food that can be metabolized in energy quickly.

What is the oldest foods we still eat? ›

The oldest foods still eaten today
  • Stew. Who can say no to a delicious, heart-warming stew? ...
  • Tamales. Made from starchy, corn-based dough, tamales are still enjoyed today all throughout Mexico and Central America, South America, the Caribbean, the US and even the Philippines. ...
  • Pancakes. Yep. ...
  • Bread. ...
  • Curry. ...
  • Cheesecake.

Is Russian food spicy? ›

Traditional Russian dishes are not spicy.

Whats the average wage in Russia? ›

The average hourly wage in Russia is 600 RUB or USD 8.09 (US Dollars), and the hourly minimum wage is 150 RUB (USD 2.01). Russia has a median salary of 110,000 RUB per month (USD 1,472.90).
C. Location.
CityAverage Monthly Salary (in Russian Rubles)
Dagestan29,000 RUB
Pskov25,925 RUB
10 more rows
23 Jul 2021

Why do Russian eat sour cream? ›

In Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian cuisines, sour cream is often added to borscht and other soups, and is used as a salad dressing and as a condiment for dumplings, such as varenyky and pelmeni. In Polish cuisine smetana can be added to the traditional pierogi dumplings.

Why do Russians love mayo? ›

Russia's bitter winters also meant few spices and herbs grew in the area, and so mayonnaise was used as a flavour enhancer. It was used to mask subpar ingredients during the Soviet Union and in times of rationing, mayonnaise offered a variation in taste when added to the limited selection of available food.

Can you buy peanut butter in Russia? ›

Is peanut butter banned in Russia? The notion that peanut butter is banned in Russia seems to be exaggerated by Stranger Things. In reality, Russia has never implemented a ban on peanut butter, but it was very difficult to find during the 1980s era of the Soviet Union.

What did Russian drink before vodka? ›

But historically, Vodka wasn't as popular in Russia it is now. In times of the Ancient Rus, most of drinks were low-alcoholic, made mostly of honey. The most notorious of them was Medovukha. It is a wine made from honey that were brought to Russia by its Varyag (Vikings) founders and evolved with time.

What is the national food of Ukraine? ›

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.

What did Russian royalty eat? ›

Fresh fish was a rarity and only the Tsar and rich boyars could afford the delicacy of having fresh salmon, sturgeon or pike. Another typical delicacy was caviar: people ate it with vinegar, pepper and cut onion. Red meat was not very popular in Old Russia.

What is Russia's national drink? ›

Russia: Kvass is a traditional fermented non-alcoholic beverage commonly made from rye bread, and while kvass is seen as the national non-alcoholic drink, it is vodka that most Russians identify as their national alcoholic beverage. Like in Poland, Russians consider their nation to be vodka's birthplace.

What is Russia's favorite drink? ›

Tea. Tea has a significant role in Russian culture. Due to the cold Northern climate, it became the most popular drink, and today is considered a national drink of Russia. Locals love to drink tea always and everywhere!

What's Russia famous for? ›

Russia is known all over the world for its thinkers and artists, including writers like Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky, composers such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and ballet dancers like Rudolf Nureyev. The Cathedral of the Annunciation is connected to Moscow's Grand Kremlin Palace.

Is borscht Russian or Ukrainian? ›

borscht, also spelled borsch, borsht, or bortsch, beet soup of the Slavic countries. Although borscht is important in Russian and Polish cuisines, Ukraine is frequently cited as its place of origin.

What do Russian say before drinking? ›

The Russian equivalent for Cheers! is За здоровье! [za zda-ró-vye]. Literally it means: "To your health!". The Russian word for'health' is 'здоровье' [zda-ró-vye].

What is Russia's national dish? ›

Pelmeni. Pelmeni is considered the national dish of Russia. They are pastry dumplings are typically filled with minced meat and wrapped in a thin, pasta-like dough. They can be served alone, slathered in butter and topped with sour cream, or in a soup broth.

Where do Russians keep their vodka? ›

Many Russians are afraid to freeze their vodka as it can solidify some of the impurities that “dishonest” vodka brands put into their spirits, Narzi explains. And rather than going down smoother, shooting freezer-cold vodka can actually burn the throat. So Narzi opts to instead keep bottles chilled in a fridge.

What is the legal age for drinking in Russia? ›

Russia — Though age to purchase is 18. Uganda — 16 for some drinks consumed with restaurant meal, 18 otherwise.

What alcohol does Russian drink? ›

Gorilka. Gorilka is often considered the Ukranian brother of Russian vodka, though the drinks tend to be quite different; Russian vodka is usually made with rye, and gorilka is often made from wheat. Traditionally, gorilka was also not purified or distilled as much as vodka, and herbs were used to mask the impurities.

What is the famous alcohol in Russia? ›

Kvas. After vodka, kvas is the most famous Russian drink. It is carbonated and may contain approximately 1% alcohol. It's prepared through fermentation of flour and malt or dry rye bread, sometimes with the addition of herbs and honey.

What do the Russians call Russia? ›

Rossiya-matushka, "Russia the Mother", Мать-Россия, tr. Mat'-Rossiya, Матушка Русь, tr. Matushka Rus' , "Mother Rus' "), Homeland the Mother (Russian: Родина-мать, tr.

What are 5 facts about Russia? ›

Fun and Interesting Facts About Russia
  • The World's Longest Railway Is in Russia.
  • Russia Is Home to A Lot Of Famous Literature.
  • Russia Has 12 Active Volcanos.
  • Siberia Makes Up a Majority of the Land.
  • Russians Have Plenty of Superstitions.
  • Russia Has One of the World's Busiest Metros.
  • Tetris Was Invented in Russia.
1 Jun 2022

What animal symbolizes Russia? ›

The Russian Bear (Russian: Русский медведь, romanized: Russky medved) is a widespread symbol (generally of a Eurasian brown bear) for Russia, used in cartoons, articles and dramatic plays since as early as the 16th century, and relating alike to the Russian Empire, the Russian Provisional Government and Russian ...

What is the national dish of Ukraine? ›

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.

What do you drink with borscht? ›

With its light fish texture and tangy flavour from the tomatoes and lemon juice, this Romanian recipe requires a tangy, white wine to match. Consider Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or dry Riesling.

How healthy is borscht? ›

There are several health benefits you can enjoy when eating borscht as a result of the nutrients in the ingredients including reduction of blood pressure, stomach, liver and heart protection, and blood cleansing support!


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