This Russian potato pancake recipe for draniki makes yet another kind of Russian pancake for you to cook for Maslenitsa or Pancake Week, which starts today, 8 March and runs until Sunday 14 March. Even if you’re not Russian, it’s as good an excuse as any to make pancakes.
If you liked 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 should enjoy this Russian potato pancakes recipe for draniki or deruny in Ukrainian.
If you need an excuse to make pancakes, then the Eastern Orthodox festival of Maslenitsa, Pancake Week or Shrovetide starts today. Dating back to the 2nd century AD with its origin in pagan traditions, Maslenitsa marks the last week before Great Lent and the end of winter and start of spring.
Before I tell you about my Russian potato pancake recipe for draniki, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you make this recipe or any of my Russian dishes or other recipes and you like them, please consider supporting Grantourismo so we can continue to publish recipes and food stories.
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Now let me tell you about this classic Russian potato pancake recipe for draniki or deruny in Ukrainian.
Russian Potato Pancakes Recipe for Draniki to Celebrate Maslenitsa or Pancake Week
Russians love their pancakes or ‘blini’ – which is the plural; ‘blin’ is singular – and there are countless kinds of pancakes. I read that one Maslenitsa event in Moscow last year offered over 200 types of pancakes. Next I’ll be making syrniki, cottage cheese pancakes made with tvorog or farmer’s cheese, and oladyi, which are small, thick, fluffy pancakes made with kefir.
While Covid-19 will be deterring most Russians from celebrating Maslenitsa this year, which generally involves much drinking, dance and song, many will flip pancakes at home tonight instead and they’ll have something to distract them from the pandemic while they do.
For the first time, Russians will get to watch a selection of short-listed performers on national broadcaster Channel One and then vote for the artist and song that will represent Russia in the Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision is much loved in Russia and should bring some cheer to fans today.
And it’s International Women’s Day of course – a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, as much as to mark a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge – to challenge gender bias, stereotypes and inequality, and call them out whenever you see them to create a more inclusive world. The idea being that “a challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change”. And change is long overdue.
Tips to Making This Russian Potato Pancake Recipe
I only have a few tips for making this Russian potato pancakes recipe for draniki (in Russian) or deruny (in Ukrainian). I mention that these are also made in Ukraine because every time I post a Russian recipe we hear from someone telling me it’s Ukrainian. Food travels, people.
This potato pancakes recipe is super easy – and 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 recently shared (link 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.
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.
Yes, Terence helped with my blini last week. If you’re a perfectionist like my husband, you might also like to try one of these non-stick pancake pans with moulds.
If you follow this Russian potato pancakes recipe to the gram, they will still result in a slightly crispy pancake on the outside, but you will need to serve them immediately as they will soften as they cool down.
So make sure that while the potato batter is resting, you use that time to pop some sour cream and fresh dill, spring onions/scallions and/or chives in bowls, so you’re ready to eat once they’re done.
Russian Potato Pancakes Recipe for Draniki
- 550 g potatoes
- 100 g white onion
- 1 egg
- 200 g all purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Cooking oil
- Sour cream
- Peel the potatoes and onion, then grate them. For a rough crunchier pancake exterior, go for larger-sized grated potato and onion pieces, but for a lighter finer pancake, opt for smaller grated pieces. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Crack an egg into a separate dish, whisk until combined, then add it to the bowl, along with the salt and pepper, and combine the ingredients.
- Gradually add the flour to the mixing bowl, and combine the ingredients well. The batter should be thick, chunky and wet but not runny. Add a little more flour if necessary, then let the batter rest for 15 minutes.
- While the batter is resting, finely chop your fresh dill, spring onions/scallions and/or chives, pour some sour cream or crème fraiche into a dish, and lay some paper towels onto a wire rack to drain the pancakes after their fried, as you’ll need to serve the pancakes immediately once they’re done.
- Heat a medium-sized fry pan or skillet to medium-high heat and add enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Drop a little mixture in the pan; if it sizzles it’s ready.
- Turn down to medium heat then drop a tablespoon of batter into the pan, using the spoon to quickly flatten it and shape it into a circle before it sets and the edges starts to brown.
- Repeat until you’ve filled the pan. You should be able to do 4 or 5 in one batch. By the time you finish shaping the fourth or fifth pancake, the first one should be ready to turn over. Each batch should take around 5 minutes to cook.
- Using a turner or spatula, flip the first pancake over. If it’s not brown yet, then leave the others for another minute or so, then turn one over. If it’s nice and brown and crispy, then turn the others over one by one, and flip the first one over again so it’s brown and crispy on both sides.
- Transfer the pancakes to the wire rack to soak up any excess oil, then repeat until you’ve used up all the batter.
- Serve immediately while still crispy with extra salt and pepper, fresh dill, spring onions/scallions and/or chives, and sour cream. If you don’t serve the pancakes straight away they will start to soften.
Do let us know if you make our Russian potato pancakes recipe for draniki as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.