Your online resource

for all things culinary

HOME Search this Site All Recipes Special Sections Articles &  Resources Kitchen Equipment Food & Health Growing Food Directories

Missing an Ingredient ?


Russian Cuisine and Recipes

Russian Recipes, Food and Cooking

Cooking by Country - December 2004


Scroll down for Traditional Russian Recipes



Go to:-   Russia Featured Ingredient  |  Russia Speciality Dish  |  Cooking by Country Main Page



Russia is a huge country spanning from Europe in the west to  Northern Asia in the east with a massive 37,653 km coastline. The terrain ranges from plains to forests to mountains with the climate anything from warm, if relatively short summers in the west to sub-arctic in Siberia. Overall, the winters tend to be long and cold. It has borders with 14 countries from China to the southeast to Finland in the Northwest.




NB  With the break up of the Soviet Union, it is difficult to completely isolate the cuisine of Russia today as compared with the Soviet Union of yesteryear. Some dishes which most of us would consider to be Russian are, strictly speaking no longer so. A good example is Chicken Kiev: the town of Kiev  is now in the separate country of Ukraine. However, at the risk of offending some, we are going to include such dishes in this section.....but if we ever do a section on Ukrainian cuisine, it will, of course be included there too.


Ancient Times, History and Influences on Russian Cooking


It is not difficult to imagine what natural bounties this vast land has always proffered to its occupants. The sheer size, coastline, varied climate and terrain was, from the start a boon to least in the west of the country. There was plenty of game in the forests, fish in the rivers and sea and pastoral land to grow important staples such as rye.


Although there have been many ‘man-made’ influences which helped to form the current day Russian cuisine,  including the arrival of the Vikings in the 9th century who introduced herring and preserving techniques,  the Mongol-Tatar invaders in the 13th century who brought with them the samovar (a tea-making/serving vessel), spices,  techniques for grilling meat, making sour clotted milk and pickling cabbage (sauerkraut) and, of course the culinary habits and ideas from the west (France, Germany and Austria in particular), the main influence of what the peoples of Russia have eaten over time has been the climate.


The long-lasting cold winters meant that the food consumed needed to provide warmth and energy  to ensure survival during the winter. This  gave rise to high levels of slow burning carbohydrates and fat being consumed above high protein or vegetables. Bread often made from Rye and porridges made from various grains became staples in the Russian diet. Other cereals, beans, lentils, and peas were also important foodstuffs as were beetroot, cabbage and mushrooms. Rye was the ideal grain for planting during the short unpredictable growing season.


It's interesting to note that in early Russian history, the food of city dwellers was not that different from that of the country peasants as cities were few and far between and therefore in close proximity to rural land and small villages. Russian cuisine is based on peasant cooking and it's only much later in its history that additions were made to the hearty "one-pot" supper most peasants looked forward to after a long day in the fields. This was usually in the form of a soup and depending on what was available, ranged from a thin broth consisting mainly of water and vegetables to a substantial almost stew-like affair with added fish or meat. Coarse dark bread was always served in large amounts.


The introduction of New world foods such as potatoes added another dimension to this warming cuisine and during the times of Peter the Great c.1725 contact with the West led to the introduction and use of utensils such as frying pans and straining spoons. Western influences and the import of western chefs added more refined dishes to Russian cuisine...but only for the ruling classes.


Another Russian culinary tradition can also be attributed mainly  to the climate, namely the zakuski table which became popular during the 19th century. This is similar to the Swedish smorgasbord. When the gentry entertained their friends they could never be quite sure when they would all arrive due not only to the sometimes inclement weather, but also to the long distances their guests may have to travel and the poor road conditions. In order to ensure everyone was kept happy before they could finally serve dinner, upon arrival guests would immediately be served appetisers which were all laid out on a large table,  along with a shot of Vodka to warm them up.


Current Day Russian Cuisine


Russian cuisine remained stable until the Russian Revolution of 1917. However, the new ideals of sobriety, moderation and self-denial were to have a profound effect on the eating habits of many of the former ruling classes. It's perhaps just as well that the peasants,  whose way of eating hadn't changed that much from earlier times and who had borne the brunt of  two majors wars, famines and invasion didn't need the refinements in preparation and service of food as the ruling classes had come to enjoy.


Ironically, it was at this time that Russian food became more widely known in other parts of the world when Russian restaurants were opened in cities such as London, New York and Paris by (what were now) the defunct ruling classes who, in all honesty, had little else to offer other countries other than their years of experience of eating fine food.


 Click here for lots of Russian Recipes

 Follow us  




 Sign up for Free E-mailings

Still not found what you're looking for?


Try our search facility. Type in your main ingredient (s) or whatever you happen to have available in your store cupboard or fridge and allow us to whisk you up a recipe in seconds!



For full advanced search tips visit our main search page via the red "search this site" button at the top of the page


About Us  |  Contact Us  |   Advertise |    Private Privacy  |   Media Resources  |  Links  |  Sitemap  |

Printing Recipes  |  Abbreviations on this site  




This Web Site was designed and created by Copyright © 2000 to date [Recipes4us] All rights reserved.

 Some Photos ©