Our 28 best Russian recipes make traditional Russian dishes just like my baboushka used to make. They include everything from the Russian dumplings called pelmeni and vareniki to hearty comforting soups such as borscht and shchi, for which you’ll find countless renditions all over Russia, Ukraine and former countries of the Soviet Union or USSR.
My 28 best Russian recipes will be getting made again in our Siem Reap kitchen this coming month. Our ‘winter’ in Cambodia is longer than it’s been in previous years and while it’s nowhere near as cold as the icy winters other northern hemisphere countries are currently experiencing, it’s cold enough for us – so cold that we’re still making the warming winter foods we usually only make for a few weeks each year.
Every year in the lead up to Russian Christmas and the Orthodox New Year I take time out to make the best Russian recipes of my family that I grew up eating in Australia and cooking wherever we’ve lived around the world. I tie on an apron and pull out the rolling pin and I channel my ancestors who are no longer on this earth.
As I roll out dough, fold dumplings and stir big pots of soup, I spend time recollecting memories from my childhood, of family gatherings and Russian feasts savoured on Christmas Eve and Russian Easter, of summer picnics by rivers and dams and beaches near Sydney, and of Sunday lunches that turned into dinners.
This year, unlike previous years, I have put the Cambodian recipes we’ve been testing for our epic Cambodian Cookbook and Culinary History on hold, and instead of spending a week cooking the Russian recipes I learnt to make from my mother and baboushka as a child growing up in Sydney, I spent the entire month of January cooking Russian food and writing up the recipes, which you’ll find collected below.
My plan, once we complete the Cambodian book is to write a Russian-Australian cookbook, culinary history and memoir that not only tells the stories of my Russian-Australian family but of the Russian community and Russian immigrant history in Australia. I’m so excited about this book, as it will be as intimate as the Cambodian book is epic. I’ll tell you more about that soon. Before I tell you about my Russian family recipes, I have a favour to ask.
Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you make these Russian dishes or any of our recipes and enjoy them, please consider supporting Grantourismo so we can keep creating food content. Click through to this post for ways to support Grantourismo, such as booking accommodation, hiring a car or campervan or motorhome, purchasing travel insurance, or booking a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. We’ll earn a small commission but you won’t pay any extra.
You could also shop our online store, where we’ve got everything from gifts for street food lovers to food-themed reusable cloth face masks created from Terence’s images; support our epic first-of-its-kind Cambodian culinary history and cookbook on Patreon; or purchase something on Amazon, such as one of these James Beard 2020 award-winning cookbooks, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, cookbooks for foodie travellers, and gifts for Asian food lovers and picnic lovers.
Now let me tell you about my 28 best Russian recipes. Click on the image from the post and summary to go to the recipe.
Best Russian Recipes Just Like My Baboushka Used to Make
Russian French Toast Recipe for Grenki Just Like My Russian Grandma Made
My classic Russian French toast recipe for grenki (Гренки) makes the scrummy French toast that my baboushka used to make for me for breakfast – although it could also be served for brunch, lunch or dessert, as either a sweet or savoury dish. When my papa sat down at the big oak dining table at the house he built in Blacktown, where I spent much of my school holidays growing up in Sydney, his breakfast consisted of black rye bread, a soft-boiled egg, a sweet juicy tomato, and crunchy radishes and cucumbers that he’d just picked from his backyard vegetable garden. All of which were washed down with a shot or two of his home-made vodka, of course! My baboushka typically made me her idea of a traditional Russian breakfast that couldn’t have been more different to papa’s. On cold winter mornings, it might be hot oat porridge, drowning in warm milk, with dollops of butter and brown sugar at its centre. At other times of the year, it would be blini – not the petite pikelets topped with smoked salmon, sour cream, caviar and dill, but rather the Russian take on French-style crepes (see below), and it would be a towering stack of the things. And there would also be this Russian-style French toast or grenki, served with honey or golden syrup and icing sugar, or sour cream and stewed berries or fruit jam. Sweet memories.
Russian Pancakes Recipe for Blini in the Style of French Crêpes
My Russian pancakes recipe makes Russian blini in the style of French crêpes if you’re looking for a quick and easy pancake recipe for Shrove Tuesday and Pancake Day or for Maslenitsa, which is Russian Pancake Week, Crepe Week or Butter Week coming up in March, an Eastern Orthodox holiday joyously celebrated by Russians. If my Russian grandmother wasn’t making me the Russian take on French toast above, she made these sweet, thin, buttery pancakes for breakfast which she spread with generous layers of butter, and served with jars of jams and a bowl of sour cream. My mum also made these and loved them, and when I was a little girl and my little sister Felicia was just a toddler, we would help dad make them for my mum for Mother’s Day. We would serve them to her as breakfast in bed with a pot of tea just the way she liked it. These pancakes are fantastic served sweet. You can also serve them as a late afternoon snack or dessert. But you can also do as the Russians do and serve them as savoury blini with smoked salmon, fresh dill, gherkins, and sour cream. This recipe makes a batch of 10-12, however, my baboushka would make a towering stack of several dozen. I don’t know how she did it, but she never did things by halves!
Russian Ricotta Cheese Pancakes Recipe for Syrniki or Farmer’s Cheese Pancakes
My Russian ricotta cheese pancakes recipe makes syrniki or farmer’s cheese pancakes. Crunchy outside and fluffy within, these Russian pancakes are traditionally made with tvorog or farmer’s cheese. Hard to find outside Europe or Russian diaspora communities, I’ve long made syrniki with ricotta and they’re just as delicious. While they’re typically called ‘pancakes’, these addictive morsels, which are typically eaten as a breakfast treat, are more like a hybrid of American pancakes, fritters, pikelets, and baked cheesecake. These cheesy little pancakes weren’t eaten every day at my grandparents’ home – my baboushka would typically make me an omelette or porridge for breakfast – but when she wanted to spoil me, she’d make any one of the many types of pancakes and fritters that Russians love so much and serve them piping hot with sour cream, jams or stewed or fresh fruit.
Russian Potato Pancakes Recipe for Draniki or Deruny in Ukrainian
If you like my Russian pancakes recipe for blini in the style of French crêpes and my buckwheat pancakes recipe with smoked salmon, dill, sour cream, and a gherkin-radish caviar, then you will enjoy this Russian potato pancakes recipe for draniki or deruny in Ukrainian. This potato pancakes recipe is super easy. It’s versatile, too. You can finely grate the potato and onion and use more rather than less flour for a light pancake that’s similar in texture to a pikelet or the mini buckwheat blini I shared above. Or you can grate larger pieces of potato, finely chop or slice your onion, and use less flour – just a few tablespoons – if you prefer more texture and crunch, and something more akin to a German kartoffelpuffer. If you’ve never made potato pancakes before, do experiment. I use a kitchen grater with a storage container attached, but you can use any grater – from a simple box grater to a food processor with a grating or shredding attachment. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my potato pancakes to look home-made and rustic, and am happy just to spoon the mixture directly into a fry pan or skillet, however, Terence prefers to use silicon egg rings, which will give you perfectly round discs.
Russian Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe for Blini with Smoked Salmon, Dill and Sour Cream
This Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe makes blini with smoked salmon, dill, sour cream, and a ‘caviar’ of gherkin and radish, inspired by ikra (see below). More like pikelets than pancakes, these are cocktail size blini that are perfect for snacking and entertaining, and while this is a savoury topping you could also spread these little pancakes with jam and cream. And, yes, of course you can serve these blini with real caviar. I’m just conscious that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic and some of us (cough cough) may no longer be able to afford the luxury of caviar. These are blini for those of us currently on a Prosecco rather than a Champagne budget! I love this size for blini. They make a fun brunch snack or fantastic finger food, if you’re lucky enough to be able to entertain. Terence, mum and I gorged ourselves on these small blini with caviar, sour cream and dill when we took the day train from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, my favourite train journey in the world. We ordered one serve of blini and caviar for each of us with vodka, which was all they offered on their very limited menu at the time, as most Russian travellers brought their own food. The blini were so good and so stupidly cheap that we immediately ordered another round of blini and vodkas, which, by the raised eyebrows of the train staff must have been unusual. You’ll have to read the post to find out how it ended…
Russian Devilled Eggs Recipe for a Zakuski Table Fit for a Russian Tzar
My Russian devilled eggs recipe makes addictive Russian stuffed eggs with a creamy filling of the yolks of hard-boiled eggs mashed with mayonnaise, mustard, paprika, dill pickles, purple shallots, and perfumed dill. A feature on the zakuski buffets before the elaborate imperial banquets, they were popularised during the Soviet period. They’re another Russian retro-classic that, like chicken Kiev and beef Stroganoff, spread like wildfire around the world, featuring on formica trays of hors d’oeuvres at every swinging soirée from Sydney to San Francisco in the 1960s and Seventies. My groovy mum in her maxi-skirt and pig-tails offered Russian devilled eggs as finger food before weekend barbecues and dinner parties. Baboushka preferred to serve whole boiled eggs alongside a jar of Russian caviar, which wasn’t considered the luxury then that it is now. Caviar was just something we ate with eggs – washed down with vodka, of course. Dating back to Roman times, devilled eggs were a feature of Russian imperial cuisine, laid out on the elaborate spreads of zakuski or hors d’oeuvres on buffet tables overflowing with silver trays of snacks and small plates. Guests would enjoy some bites before they’d enter the sumptuous dining room for the extravagant sit-down banquets of Russia’s emperors.
Russian Buckwheat Kasha Recipe with Bacon, Caramelised Onions, Mushrooms and Boiled Eggs
This comforting Russian buckwheat kasha recipe with caramelised onions, bacon lardons, pan-fried mushrooms, and soft-boiled eggs makes my hearty take on my baboushka’s traditional Russian breakfast. Buckwheat or grechka is the key ingredient of this kasha, a savoury porridge that I serve with a dollop of sour cream and plenty of fragrant dill. Despite the rustic appearance, it is perhaps the least traditional of all my Russian family recipes. But it’s one of my favourite buckwheat recipes and another of our best Russian recipes. The main differences between my baba’s kasha and mine are the preparation and the presentation. I combine half the caramelised onions, bacon and mushrooms with the buckwheat groats before serving it, and place the other half of the ingredients on top. Another difference is the boiled egg. My baba served chopped-up hard-boiled eggs on top of her kasha, whereas I prefer soft-boiled eggs – even runny eggs – which I love to stir through the buckwheat kasha, with the sour cream and loads of fresh dill. This Russian buckwheat kasha was traditionally eaten for breakfast, but it also works for brunch, lunch and a comforting dinner, especially on a cold winter’s night.
Best Russian Piroshki Recipe for Perfect Savoury Minced Meat-Filled Hand Pies
This Russian piroshki recipe makes the perfect savoury minced meat-filled pastries, also known as Russian hand pies, that my baboushka used to make. Piroshki are typically eaten as a snack on their own or with a bowl of borscht. My baboushka also served piping-hot piroshki, covered in a tea towel to keep them warm, as one of an array of Russian dishes during family feasts. While my family preferred deep-fried piroshki, these Russian hand pies can also be baked. However you cook them, they taste even better the next day and will last for days apparently. Note that my Russian piroshki recipe makes the deep-fried minced meat-filled pastries that my baboushka made when I was growing up in Sydney in the 1970s and during my university years in the mid-Eighties. Baba would often send me home after a stay with a bag full of these addictive savoury buns, which our American readers call Russian hand pies. They’d be wrapped in tea towels to keep them warm and I couldn’t resist digging into my bag to sneak one to nibble on the train home. Your family recipe may be different. I was almost tempted to call this a Russian-Australian piroshki recipe, because baba’s minced meat filling contained the fine, clear, bean thread noodles that come from China that are used throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. I never questioned baba’s inclusion of noodles until we tried this street food snack for the first time in Russia, twenty years ago in Moscow. More about that in the link below.
Russian Borscht Recipe for the Hearty Home-Cooked Soup of my Childhood
My traditional Russian borscht recipe makes a comforting vegetable soup that I think of as Russia’s soup for the soul. Borscht has a special place in the hearts, minds and stomachs of anyone of Russian or Ukrainian heritage who grew up dunking weighty slices of black rye bread into their baboushka’s nourishing broths. This Russian borscht recipe will make you the hearty home-cooked soup of my childhood that my baboushka used to make and it’s my most favourite Russian dish of all. I’ve made several big batches of the stuff so far this ‘winter’ – which is saying something for someone living in sultry Southeast Asia! A beetroot-driven vegetable soup of Russian-Ukrainian origin, my borscht recipe is garnished with fresh fragrant dill and dollops of sour cream, making it a filling meal in itself. At my grandparents’ home, we’d tuck into bowls of borscht for lunch or dinner the first day after baba made it, then breakfast or brunch the next. This is the borscht of my childhood growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia, to grandparents who were born in Ukraine but identified as Russians, who arrived in Australia immediately after World War II as refugees or displaced persons. This explains why our borscht recipe might be different to your borscht recipe, why it’s a deep orange-red colour rather than the ruby or purple-tinted borscht you might be more familiar with from cookbooks, magazines and food blogs. There’s a reason for that, which I explain in the post below.
Easy Russian Cabbage Soup Recipe for Shchi, The Most Russian of Soups – And Vegan
This Russian cabbage soup recipe makes shchi (Щи), the most Russian of soups. If my baboushka wasn’t making borscht, she was cooking a big pot of shchi. Don’t ask me which is my favourite, borscht or shchi. It would be like choosing a favourite child. Long eaten by nobles and peasants alike, the rich included meat in their shchi, while the poor made a vegetarian soup, shchi vegetarianskiye. While you might have thought that borscht was the quintessential Russian soup, the beetroot-based meat and vegetable broth is one of the most popular and best-known Russian soups, but its origin in much-contested and claimed by the Ukrainians, whereas shchi is resolutely Russian and so beloved by Russians that the Moscow Times called it a “national treasure”. Shchi is an old Russian dish dating to the 9th century, when cabbage arrived in ‘the Land of the Rus’ from Byzantium. Eaten ever since by Russians of all backgrounds, a bowl of shchi typically includes meat and is much more hearty when it’s cooked for the elites, while historically the poor would make a simple vegetarian broth (shchi vegetarianskiye). I love both renditions. If you’re a vegan you can this a vegan shchi by leaving out the sour cream.
Russian Cold Beetroot Soup Recipe for Holodnik, A Chilled Soup for a Hot Summer Day
This Russian cold beetroot soup recipe makes holodnik (Холодник), ‘cold soup’, a chilled summer soup that is brilliant on a hot summer day but which you can also tuck into during winter if you turn up the heating! Sometimes called ‘summer borscht’ – that would actually be svekolnik (Свекольник) – it shares a key ingredient in beetroot and is a breeze to make. While it’s no surprise that hearty warming soups such as borscht and shchi are Russian favourites, I often wonder how these chilled soups were adopted in a country that never gets terribly hot, not even on a Black Sea beach in the height of summer, where my baboushka had fond memories of spending her childhood summers. Chilled soups are fantastic in summer, especially teamed with a summer salad, but I have to confess that I can slurp this every day, anytime of year.
Russian Okroshka Soup Recipe for the Cold Summer Soup You Can Slurp Any Time of Year
This Russian okroshka soup recipe made with kefir (Окрошка с кефиром) makes another cold summer soup that I reckon you can slurp any time of year. Seasonable vegetables such as cucumber and radish can be substituted with whatever’s available that’s crisp and crunchy. This chilled soup is healthy and one of the easiest soups you’ll make, coming together in half an hour. If you’re in the northern hemisphere experiencing winter right now, then throw on an extra layer or turn the heating up! Trust me on this one.
Russian Pelmeni Recipe for Russian Dumplings Like My Baboushka Made
This Russian pelmeni recipe makes the Russian dumplings stuffed with savoury pork and beef mince that are boiled and served with sour cream and fresh fragrant dill. This is hearty home-cooked Russian comfort food at its best. Made in big batches these Russian-Ukrainian dumplings are typically shared as a family meal, especially for Russian Christmas, Easter, Sunday lunches and dinners. My Russian pelmeni recipe makes Russian dumplings just like my baboushka, my mum, and her baboushka made. I grew up eating pelmeni, which I learnt to make as a child by watching my Russian grandmother and mother. After baba died, my mum and dad and little sister continued making these comforting Russian dumplings at home, and we’d gorge ourselves on them whenever we all got together for the holidays. After Terence and I left Australia in 1998 to move to the Middle East, we created our own tradition of making a Russian feast every excuse we had, from Russian Christmas and Russian Easter to whenever the weather turned even a little bit cold for our stupidly short ‘winters’, when I’d don my apron and get the rolling pin out and channel my Russian baboushka.
Russian Potato Vareniki Recipe for Mash and Caramelised Onion Filled Dumplings
My Russian potato vareniki recipe makes the boiled Russian dumplings stuffed with rustic mashed potato and caramelised onion that my baboushka used to make for family meals, particularly for Russian Christmas, Russian Easter, and the seemingly never-ending Sunday lunches that turned into dinners. It was my responsibility to set the dining table and carry the dishes from the kitchen to dining room and I have to confess that I set the casserole pot filled to the brim with potato vareniki as close to my place setting as possible. My baboushka would serve the vareniki swimming in butter in a casserole pot, sprinkled with fresh fragrant dill, and accompanied by dishes of sour cream (smetana). If our whole family was gathering – my grandparents, my parents, uncles and their partners – baba would make big batches of potato vareniki, vareniki filled with ‘farmers cheese’ that was like a firm salty cottage cheese, and minced meat filled pelmeni, above, as we all had our favourites. My dad, uncles and husband Terence loved the meat-filled pelmeni, my mother and I adored the mashed potato filled vareniki, and baba and mum loved the cheese filled vareniki. Papa had a little of each. Any leftovers would be sent home in casserole pots (my baboushka seemed to have an endless supply of the things) or refried the next day for breakfast, brunch or lunch (depending on how bad the hangovers were!) for those lucky enough to stay overnight.
Pan Fried Dumplings Recipe for Pelmeni and Vareniki Leftovers
I adore my baboushka’s Russian cabbage rolls recipe that makes golubtsy (голубцы) – cabbage rolls stuffed with a savoury minced pork, beef, carrot, and rice filling, and cloaked in a rich homemade tomato sauce. They were a feature of countless family meals, and not only for Russian Christmas and Easter, but for our family’s regular weekend lunches that rolled into dinner. But baba’s cabbage rolls were a meal in themselves. They were so filling that as a child I would eat one and then I’d struggle to fit anything else in, my eyes darting around the table at the abundance of food and all the other Russian dishes that I disappointingly couldn’t fit in. Of course, I would squeeze a bit of everything in, because that’s what we did at family meals. I just wished they’d been smaller. So I made a couple of tweaks with this recipe: I’ve reduced the size of baba’s cabbage rolls so that they are rather petite, meaning you can eat more than one, and I’ve cooked the savoury filling for the golubtsy before rolling it and that’s because, as much as I love baba’s recipe (which requires that the meat filling mixture be raw), this allows you to speed up the process (which home cooks continually complain is too long). More on the link below.
This Classic Russian Garden Salad Goes on the Table for Every Russian Meal
My classic Russian garden salad recipe makes a simple green salad that my baboushka served with every family meal when I was growing up in Sydney in the Seventies. As simple as the salad sounds, it was the perfect companion to the heartier dishes she served that I’ve shared here. My baba’s garden salad was exceptional, because most of the ingredients were just picked from papa’s backyard vegetable garden. Baba and papa had a market garden in Seven Hills when they were younger, and papa grew vegetables in their backyard at Blacktown – and also had chooks, made pickles and distilled vodka. Papa’s tomatoes were the sweetest I’ve ever tasted, his radishes the zestiest, and his cucumbers the crunchiest. Those three ingredients there – tomato, cucumber and radish – comprised Papa’s breakfast each day, along with a slice of Russian black bread, perhaps a boiled egg, maybe some pickled herring, and a sneaky shot of his homemade vodka. But let me tell you about Baba’s classic Russian garden salad recipe…
Russian Mimosa Salad for the Soviet Union’s Festive Layered Spring Salad
This Russian mimosa salad recipe makes a layered salad from the former Soviet Union or USSR that was typically served for festive spring holidays such as Easter. The original Soviet-era salad was layered in a glass bowl or served as a kitschy salad cake. My Russian mimosa salad is presented a little differently to the layered salad you might recall that looked like a savoury trifle. Like Russia’s beef Stroganoff and chicken Kiev, the mimosa salad was another Russian dish that travelled the world at a time when most Russians couldn’t leave the Soviet Union, became tremendously popular outside the USSR, especially in the Seventies, and is long overdue for a revival. I prefer to present my mimosa salad as a fun DIY salad in individual glasses with bowls, spoons and condiments. While you could certainly serve this Russian mimosa salad recipe in a really big glass with a spoon, I recommend providing wooden bowls and an array of condiments and encouraging guests to upend the glass of salad into the bowl and add condiments and adjust the seasoning to their liking. This is a fun dish if you’re entertaining, especially for a casual weekend lunch.
Easy Russian Eggplant Caviar Recipe for Ikra, the Soviet Union’s Poor Man’s Caviar
This easy Russian eggplant caviar recipe for ikra – also known as the ‘poor man’s caviar’ during the Soviet period – makes a deliciously-rich version of this traditional Russian dip, spread or side dish that’s somewhere in between the ikra my baboushka made that was sumptuous and velvety and the ikra popularised during the Soviet era that more closely resembled a diced salad. This recipe for ikra is super easy. Please don’t let the ikra recipes you may have seen before now that say this is a ‘complex’ dish to make deter you. When prepping your ingredients, there’s a lot of dicing involved. When frying the ingredients, there’s a bit of stirring so that nothing sticks and everything is cooking evenly. But there are no complex skills involved. Sure, it’s time-consuming. It will take you around 90 minutes to make. In terms of texture, my Russian eggplant caviar recipe is based on a combination of the old Russian ikra recipes where the ingredients were diced, and in terms of flavour, it’s based on my baboushka’s Russian ikra recipe, which was more rustic and chunky, and full of so much flavour. Of all my baba’s dishes, it was perhaps the dish that I most adored.
Russian Beetroot Potato Salad Recipe for Family Meals and Holiday Feasts
This Russian beet potato salad recipe makes vinegret (ВИНЕГРЕТ in Russian), a creamy pink potato and beetroot salad that is fragrant with dill and delightfully tangy thanks to the gherkins and capers. Based on my baboushka’s recipe, this pink potato salad was a staple at family meals. There would rarely be a Sunday lunch at baba and papa’s Blacktown home without this salad on the table and my mum made it every time we had a backyard barbecue. Despite the fact I can make it in my sleep, this beetroot and potato salad turns out a little differently each time and the main difference is the colour. I explain why in my tips to making this Russian beet potato salad recipe below.
Russian Potato Salad Recipe for the Olivier Salad Also Known as Ensalada Rusa
This Russian potato salad recipe makes the modern take on the Olivier salad, which was invented by the chef of a famed Moscow restaurant in the 19th century, and popularised in the 20th century during the Soviet period. The potato salad would then go on to travel the world, becoming known as ensalada Rusa everywhere from Madrid to Mexico, Barcelona to Buenos Aires. The typical Soviet-era Russian potato salad ingredients list included potatoes, carrots, onion, peas, gherkins, and mayonnaise, which was ever-present. Mayonnaise was considered to be the glue that bound the Soviet states together. The original Olivier salad was more luxurious, comprised of seasonal ingredients such as crayfish tails, caviar, smoked duck, veal tongue, grouse, and capers. While ingredients were diced, it didn’t contain potato. My Russian potato salad recipe makes the Olivier salad known abroad as ensalada Rusa. We’ve eaten it everywhere from Santiago to San Sebastian, where it was typically served in small dishes as tapas or on slices of bread or toast as pinchos in Spain or pintxos in the Basque and Catalunya. I remember the first time I spotted ensalada Rusa at a Spanish tapas bar in Sydney and being completely shocked. Then, when I was learning Spanish, I was even more astonished that ensalada Rusa appeared in our food vocabulary as a typical Spanish dish from Spain and Latin America. It was then that I began to understand how food travels and this humble potato salad is one of the most well-travelled.
Russian Salmon Potato Salad Recipe with Soft-Boiled Eggs, Gherkins, Capers and Dill
This Russian salmon potato salad recipe with soft-boiled eggs, capers, gherkins and dill makes a filling salad that you can eat year-round. In the cool season, you can serve it with warm potatoes and seared salmon straight from the pan, while it can be refrigerated for warm weather meals, such as summer barbecues and spring picnics. I ate a lot of potato salad as a child. My Australian grandmother made a typical Aussie style potato salad for Sunday family dinners, while my Russian baboushka served one of a few Russian potato salads (recipes above). For backyard barbecues, riverside picnics on Hawkesbury River waterskiing weekends, or Saturday afternoon get-togethers with family friends, my mum would make whichever potato salad my dad and I felt like at the time, and it was so nice to have a choice. This Russian salmon potato salad generally only made appearances on holidays, such as Russian Orthodox Easter and Russian Christmas when baba and mum would top it with spoonfuls of Russian caviar.
Sautéed Mushrooms with Fresh Fragrant Dill and Parmigiano Reggiano
Mushrooms, sour cream and dill. There are few ingredients more quintessentially Russian – and Ukrainian, Slavic and Eastern European. Sautéed mushrooms in garlic with fresh dill often featured on my baboushka’s dining table. Along with creamy mashed potatoes, they are a fantastic accompaniment to classic Russian dishes, such as chicken Kiev and kotleti, above. I’d love to say this mushroom and dill dish is easily another of my best Russian recipes, but let’s call this a Russian-Australian dish, as Parmigiano-Reggiano is obviously not Russian and my grandparents preferred black rye bread to sourdough. These mushrooms also made an appearance on breakfast plates on holidays, whether at home or on camping trips, when dad would fry up garlic mushrooms alongside sausages, onions and tomatoes on the barbecue or camp fire. Herbed mushroom were also a hugely popular breakfast side at the Sydney cafés I worked at and that we frequented in the 1980s and ’90s. Sautéed with garlic and shallots in salted butter and olive oil, these mushrooms are finished with a dollop of sour cream and plenty of fresh fragrant herbs. I love dill but you can use flat-leaf parsley or your favourite herb. Pile it all onto toasted sourdough and generously sprinkle on grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Russian Cabbage Rolls Recipe for a Petite Version of Baboushka’s Golubtsy
My easy Russian cabbage rolls recipe for golubtsy (голубцы) makes a more petite version of my baboushka’s bigger cabbage rolls – one roll was a meal in itself! As I cook the savoury pork, beef, carrot, and rice filling before stuffing the cabbage rolls, they also bake much faster than the larger golubtsy filled with a raw meat mixture, yet they’re equally delicious. Don’t get me wrong: I adored my baba’s golubtsy, which were stuffed with a wonderful savoury minced and rice filling, and cloaked in a rich homemade tomato sauce. But they were so filling that as a child I would eat one and then I’d struggle to fit anything else in, my eyes darting around the table at the abundance of food and all the other delicious Russian dishes that I disappointingly couldn’t fit in. Of course, I would squeeze in as much as we could, because that’s what we did at family meals. I just wished they’d been smaller, so I’ve made a couple of tweaks.
Chicken Kiev Recipe for a Retro Russian Classic Cooked For Russia’s Tsars
This chicken Kiev recipe makes the now retro-cool Russian classic that was once cooked for Russia’s tsars, that was democratised during the Soviet Union era, and popularised outside the USSR in the 1970s. An iconic Russian dish of chicken breasts stuffed with parsley butter, coated in egg and bread crumbs and fried, it was another dish that occasionally appeared on my baboushka’s table for family meals, which my mum also cooked after it became fashionable in the Seventies. Our chicken Kiev recipe makes a succulent and crunchier version of the crumbed chicken fillets stuffed with parsley butter that were served to Russia’s emperors, made egalitarian in canteens during the Soviet era, and became an iconic dish in the West – along with the likes of beef Stroganoff, below – before making a comback in recent years. I explain why our take on one of the most popular Russian food recipes is more crunchy and moist in the post below.
Russian Beef Stroganoff Recipe for a Retro Classic from a St Petersburg Palace Kitchen
This Russian beef Stroganoff recipe makes a deliciously rich and creamy rendition of the braised beef dish that was cooked centuries ago in the grand kitchen of the glorious pink Stroganov Palace in St Petersburg. Rich in history and incredibly comforting, this is the hearty dish that you need to make right now. My mum used to make the Russian beef Stroganoff that was so very fashionable in the 1970s and is now a retro-cool classic, an aristocratic Russian dish with peasant roots, refined in the Stroganov dynasty’s palace kitchen by a French chef, which would go on to become hugely popular everywhere from China and Hong Kong to Australia, the UK and USA. My Russian beef Stroganoff recipe is based on a combination of my memories of the dish, the beef Stroganoff that we ate with my mother in Moscow at Café Pushkin (considered Russia’s best beef Stroganoff), the earliest documented Russian beef Stroganoff recipes by Elena Molokhovets in A Gift to Young Housewives, dating to 1861, and Pelageya Aleksandrova-Ignatieva’s beef Stroganoff recipe in Practical Basics of Culinary Arts, dating to 1899, and the beef Stroganoff that travelled to China and Hong Kong with white Russian émigrés. It’s fantastic with shoestring fries (the traditional side) or creamy mashed potatoes, gherkins, and a Russian garden salad.
Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff Recipe for a Vegetarian Stroganoff
My creamy mushroom Stroganoff recipe will make you a deliciously-rich vegetarian version of my Russian beef Stroganoff recipe that is super easy to make and comes together quickly. While this is not one of my Russian family recipes, as our beef Stroganoff, like our traditional Russian beef stew, was always made with beef, it’s still one of my best Russian recipes. It’s worth noting, however, that historically beef was a luxury for most Russians, eaten mainly on holidays and special occasions. While Russian nobles in the palaces of St Petersburg and Moscow might have feasted on beef, roast lamb, veal, ham, venison, peacocks, swans, cranes, roosters, chickens, ducks, quails, tortoise, and the like, Russia’s peasants mostly ate fish, grains and vegetables, particularly mushrooms. I also share tips on how to make this vegetarian Stroganoff a vegan Stroganoff.
Russian Kotleti Recipe for Delicious Deep-Fried Russian Style Chicken Meat Patties
This Russian kotleti recipe makes delicious deep-fried Russian style chicken meat patties, or chicken cutlets or chicken meatballs if you prefer, which my baboushka served with mashed potatoes and a garden salad or as one dish of an array of plates if being eaten as part of a shared family feast as so many of our meals were. Baba would buy cuts of meat from the butcher’s in Blacktown on her daily morning shop and Papa would mince the meat she’d bought in his old hand-grinder in the garage that was fixed to a rustic handmade wooden work bench that he’d made himself. Papa had also built my grandparents’ and parents houses. The shiny steel mincer sat amongst grease-covered tools, beneath a ceiling of cob-webs. From a young age, it intrigued me how papa kept the thing so clean amongst all that grime. If there was a big gang of us arriving for a Russian Christmas or Easter feast or one of the countless long Sunday lunches – baba and papa, mum and dad, my two uncles and their girlfriends and later wives, maybe a priest or my grandparents’ friends or neighbours; years later, my husband Terence, and occasionally a friend I’d invite to join us – then the kotleti would be served in a casserole dish at the centre of the dining table.
Traditional Russian Beef Stew Recipe for Solyanka, a Medieval Dish for Modern Times
This traditional Russian stew recipe for solyanka will make you a hearty stew – or a heavy soup if you prefer – and it’s one of my favourite beef stew recipes, based on my baboushka’s recipe, which I grew up eating in the 1970s, and is another of my best Russian recipes. First mentioned in written form in the 15th century, although thought to be far older, solyanka started out as a village dish or ‘peasant food’, so it was probably a lot thinner than my grandmother’s rendition. Although it has to be said that solyanka has long been thought to have been invented to use up leftovers, which explains all the bits and pieces, and why some solyanka recipes call for several kinds of meats and sausages, and ingredients such as dill pickle juice. So maybe it wasn’t a thin soup back in the day, after all. Garnished with plenty of fresh fragrant dill and eaten with sour cream (smetana), dill pickles, and – my recommendation: a Russian garden salad, and black bread – solyanka is quintessentially Russian. Don’t even think about washing it down with anything but vodka.