top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Soviet Life's Ukrainian Cuisine 1969 -- Vintage Cookbook TBT

w. Cherry Vareniki, Galushki, Kievsky Salad and Borsch, Ukrainian style.

In the December, 1969 issue of the English language magazine Soviet Life appeared this look at Ukrainian cuisine that includes several well-known regional well as some spiced vodka!

If you are a fan of Ukrainian cuisine, the recipes are certainly worth a look.


"THE BOY opened his mouth. As he stared at the vareniki as he opened his mouth still wider. At this point a varenik slipped out of its bowl, plopped into the sour cream, turned on the other side, jumped up and landed right in his mouth. The boy ate it and opened his mouth again, and another varenik found its way to his mouth in the same fashion. All he had to do was chew and swallow. 'Did you ever?' thought the blacksmith, gaping in surprise. The very next moment a varenik fell into his mouth too, and smeared his lips with sour cream."

Every Soviet schoolchild knows these lines from Nikolai Gogol's story "Christmas Eve" about a Ukrainian village. And so they associate Ukrainian food with vareniki and with galushki* of which Gogol also wrote that "all holy men and God's servants ate galushki."

Ukrainian dishes are spicy and rich. For spiciness they yield the palm to the Caucasian cuisine but surpass the Russian. Even Gorilka - a variety of vodka - is made with pepper. You find a pod of red pepper at the bottom of the bottle. Ukrainians are fond of fatty smoked sausage stuffed with garlic, bacon sliced fine, onion and sour cream. They often fry sausage whole or sliced depending on its size. Ten minutes before serving, it is fried on all sides in butter or lard. It is served with fried or mashed potatoes, and like many other dishes, is accompanied by a cucumber and tomato or green onion salad. Ukrainians like fresh vegetable salads and mix them with a great many things. Kievsky Salad includes, besides the above-mentioned vegetables, eggs, olives and a slice of lemon.

For Ukrainian stew besides the meat and bouillon, of course, you need tomato purée, black pepper and a bay leaf. Before serving, sprinkle with chopped garlic, parsley and dill.

The famous and very Ukrainian galushki are prepared as follows: sift 1 pound flour, pour in half a glass of water, add two tablespoons of melted butter and two eggs beaten with a little less than a teaspoon of salt. Mix all this with the flour to a smooth dough. Roll out the dough until it is one-quarter of an inch thick and cut it into one-inch pieces, any shape. Put the pieces of dough (galushki) into hot salted vegetable broth (three cups of water, one small carrot, half a parsnip, a stalk of celery), cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Tomato paste may be added. To make galushki without the soup, place the pieces of dough in boiling salted water, cook for 10 minutes, and as soon as they float to the top remove with slotted spoon (the water is discarded). Fry the galushki slightly in butter and serve with sour cream.

Delicious vareniki stuffed with cherries are worth all the trouble. Pit two pounds of sweet cherries and sprinkle them with granulated sugar. (Save the pits for the syrup.) Roll unleavened dough into a thin strip 12 to 15 inches wide and brush with the beaten white of an egg. Use a glass to cut out rounds and place two or three cherries on each. Join the edges and pinch them so they stay together. Ten minutes before serving, place the vareniki in boiling salted water and cook until they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate, pour melted butter over them and serve with sour cream and syrup made with the cherry pits.

By far the most popular Ukrainian dish everywhere in the country is borsch, Ukrainian style. It's not hard to make. The following recipe serves four:

2 medium beets

3/4 lb. cabbage

1 lb. potatoes

1 medium carrot

1 1/2 oz. root parsley (2 medium)

1 medium onion

2 strips bacon

2 cloves garlic

3 ounces tomato puree

1 level tbs flour

3/4 ounce salt pork

1 level tbs. sugar

1 tbs. vinegar (or to taste)

1/2 green pepper

1 tbs. sour cream per serving

Slice the beets, add salt, vinegar, bacon and sugar, and stew until the beets are cooked. Add puree. Shred carrot and root parsley, slice onion and fry in fat. Place sliced potatoes and shredded cabbage in boiling water and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, then add the stewed and fried vegetables, browned flour, pepper and spices and cook until ready. Before serving add garlic grated with dill, parsley greens and salt pork. Garnish with sour cream.

In the popular Ukraine Restaurant in Moscow borsch is often served in clay pots that are covered with a flat cake.

*Editor's note: This is sometimes also spelled Halushki

bottom of page