Belarusian national cuisine
Belarusian cuisine has centuries-long history, rich and interesting, and much in common with that of neighbouring Slavonic nations: Russians, Ukrainians and Poles. It’s influenced by the cuisine of Lithuania and Latvia, but has preserved its characteristics, using grain, potatoes, meat, milk and vegetables.
Belarusian cuisine widely uses potatoes, the “second bread”. Historically, potatoes were introduced to Belarus 75-90 years earlier than in Russia, and our climate facilitates the growth of many tasty varieties.
Grated potato is very common, and can be cooked in various ways, with methods combined. Belarusian cuisine often uses raw grated potato, shaped and fried: known as ‘tarkavanaja’ when used wet and ‘klinkovaja’ when drained. Mashed potato is sometimes combined with flour and baking soda. Traditional draniki (potato pancakes) enjoy great popularity, served with sour cream, fried fat (pork rinds), mushrooms and various sauces.
People also cook “buĺbianiki” (potato pies stuffed with various fillings) and “buĺbianaja babka” (potato pudding). Pig guts can be stuffed with grated potato and then fried. Boiled potatoes are eaten unpeeled, as ‘saloniki’ (eaten with salt) while stewed potatoes are called ‘tušanka’ or ‘smažaniki’.
Cabbage, carrot, peas, beans and radishes are typical of Belarusian cuisine.
“Sačni” are pancakes made with flour, given various fillings, while fried ‘skavarodniki’ are made from vinegar dough, and eaten instead of bread.
Among flour and cereal dishes, the most popular are “zacirka” (boiled dough, with milk or fat added); “kliocki” (boiled dough, served with pork rind and onion, fried in fat); “kulieš” (porridge from barley pea or bean flour); and “kulaha” (porridge from rye or wheat flour and malt, served with honey or berries).
Thickened soups prevail in Belarusian cuisine: “poliŭka” (cereal and vegetable soup); “krupienia” (thick millet soup); and «žur» (an oat porridge which should turn sour before having milk (milk žur), fat, ‘viandlina’ and other products added).
According to the proverb, there’s no tastier fish than tench and no tastier meat than pork. Pork, beef and veal are widely used in Belarusian cuisine, while fried fat is the desired dressing for various flour and potato dishes. Homemade sausages tend to be made of pork, while ‘viandlina’ is lightly smoked ham or pork loin.
Traditional meat dishes include “piačysta”: boiled, stewed or fried cuts of young pig, rabbit or poultry or a large piece of pork or beef. Meanwhile, ‘vierieščaka’ (mačanka) are short ribs and sausages, stewed in water or kvass, brewed with flour, thick sour cream and onion sauce (as served with pancakes).
To make “vantrabianka”, you boil offal, such as pig lungs, liver, hearts, kidneys or brains, before mincing and stuffing into pig intestine, to create a pudding. “Paliandvica” is baked pork with spices. “Kalduny” (potato pies) are stuffed with minced meat (or other stuffing) and spices.
Mushrooms are often used to garnish and add flavour. For instance, «žaronka» is a meat dish stewed with vegetables and mushrooms, while “kapusnik” is a cabbage soup with mushrooms.
Kvass is a popular non-alcoholic drink, coming in several varieties: “biarozаvik” is kvass from birch juice, while “klianovik” uses maple juice, and “miadavucha” is made from honey, with fermented berries and herbs. “Zbicień” is a hot drink from honey and spices.
It should be noted that the most traditional national Belarusian dishes don’t use special ingredients. Rather, it's the way that dishes are made that's important: roasting, boiling, and stewing. Semi-liquid and semi-thick dishes are traditional for Belarusian cuisine, and serving dishes are often made from clay earthenware.
There are 12,179 cafes and restaurants operating at present in Belarus, seating 763,000. Of these, 7,599 are located in public places (seating 362,000).
Just 220 restaurants and cafes specialise in Belarusian national cuisine, and forty-five of these are found in Minsk. ‘Buĺbianaja’ café, ‘Kaliada’ café and ‘Buĺbaš’ café are located in the Mahilioŭskaja voblasć, while ‘Liamus’ restaurant, ‘Rodny Kut’ restaurant, ‘Usadba’ café and ‘Zadvinnie’ café are in the Viciebskaja voblasć. ‘Staroje Vriemia’ restaurant is well-known in Homieĺ, while ‘Ahinski’ restaurant, ‘Kamianica’ café, ‘U Francyska’ café, ‘Talaka’ bar, and ‘Kuchmistr’ restaurant are found in Minsk.
Not only their menus but their décor and utensils reflect our national cuisine traditions. In fact, all public catering sites are required to serve some national dishes (unless the establishment specialises in foreign cuisine).
Aiming to popularise our dishes, the Week of Belarusian Cuisine is held regularly, with restaurants and cafes offering national dishes, cooked to traditional recipes, using age-old methods. Every establishment is then obliged to charge the same price for the dish, regardless of the restaurant or café.
Mushroom soup and Belarusian soup are very popular, as are ‘zacirka’, ‘kapusnik’, ‘draniki’, ‘mačanka’ (a meat-based stew), ‘buĺbianaja babka’ (potato pudding), ‘mannik’ (manna cake), ‘buĺbianiki’, ‘vierieščaka’ and potato kliocki.