History of Belarusian cuisine: holodnik, krupnik, yoghurt, syrniki and potato dishes


History of Belarusian cuisine: holodnik, krupnik, yoghurt, syrniki and potato dishes

From making pickles and natural cosmetics to pet care. In the XIX century, Belarusian women have an excellent guide, a sort of a book on household management titled "Lіtouskaya gaspadynya". Its author was the mother of many children, a model housewife Anna Tsyundevitczskaya.

She was born near the capital, in Korolischevichy village (Minsk region, Minsk district). Her maiden name was Prushinskaya. It was a well-known family, which also owned Loshitsa estate (Minsk, Loshitsa neighborhood).

Tsyundevitczskaya was Anna’s married name. However, it was only our time that she became known: Anna was a very modest, hardworking woman, and preferred to say about the "home science" anonymously.

Ales Beliy, historian of Belarusian cuisine:
It was only recently that her name was brought into general use, just during the last 1-2 decades, after translation of the book into Belarusian. There are a few recipes more concerned with prepared food, homemade liqueur. But the focus of this encyclopedia is on housekeeping on the whole and cooking process.

The Belarusians ate with relish at all times.

Holodnik (cold beetroot soup) and krupnik (cereal broth with meat and potatoes) were the most popular dishes amongst middling szlachta (gentry) in the XIX century.

Belarusians loved to prepare kolduny. It was not just potato dumplings stuffed with meat but an analogue of pelmeni (Russian ravioli) and pierogi (fruit dumplings) with various fillings: from meat, fish to fruits and sweets wrapped in dough.

Zrazy were among the most popular meat dishes with Minsk citizens. This was mentioned in the legendary poem "Pan Tadeusz".

Ales Beliy, historian of Belarusian cuisine:
Zrazy are thin slices of chopped meat rolled around any of variety of fillings, even fried onions, dried apricots or prunes are may be used. Vereshchaka is prepared from meat (or ribs) or sausage slices (fried and stewed) with a sauce of meat and flour. As an option it comes with pancakes. Then it is called machanka.

Belarusians mostly ate dried meat as opposed to Lithuanians (residents of the north-west of modern Belarus) who had always been famous for the art of meat smoking.

The encyclopedia of Anna Tsyundevitczskaya contains special recipes of shinka (a kind of ham) and kumpyak (dry-cured hand of pork), as well as the secrets of homemade liqueurs. It’s interesting that the girl who reached the acme of liquor making skill was considered to be an eligible bride.

In the old days, Belarusians did not drink pure vodka, but only liqueurs: mountain ash or juniper liqueur and many others.

Our ancestors even didn’t dream of yoghurts for breakfast due to poor milk yield. The heyday of dairy farming began only in the late XIX century.

Belarus was one of the pioneers of rennet cheese making in the Russian Empire.

You'd be surprised, but syrniki (cottage cheese pancakes) were previously very close to modern cheesecake.

Ales Beliy, historian of Belarusian cuisine:
Once syrniki was a very popular dish of Eastern Europe, later it became popular in America. It is of Eastern European origin, including Ukrainian and Belarusian roots.

Belarusian cuisine is renowned for its wide range of potato dishes.

The traditional dishes are very tasty and fairly high in calories due to meat and sour cream. Previously, such a substantial ration was quite normal. It helped to recover strength after intense physical activity in the field or at the factory.

Among the healthiest foods, of course, are a range of vegetables and root crops. Unfortunately, there are very few vegetable recipes of the old cuisine preserved to this day.

Ales Beliy, historian of Belarusian cuisine:
Compared to nowadays people used to eat much more fish due to richer species diversity. The loach was the main dish in Polesye (southern part of Belarus). We need to take effective fisheries management measures in order to return lost dishes into menu.

Perhaps, over time, tourists will get familiar not only with Belarusian draniki (potato pancakes), but also with vereshchaka and kolduny. Our cuisine can boast a wide variety of wonderful dishes.

Enjoy your meal!