Belarusian national cuisine has evolved over the centuries. Belarusian culinary traditions represent a mix of simple recipes used by commoners and a sophisticated cuisine of the nobility, an extensive use of local ingredients and unusual way of cooking. Old Belarusian recipes have survived to the present day, and the county’s visitors show an increased interest in them.
Since the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania the national culinary traditions have been a mix of Baltic, Slavic, Jewish and partly Germancuisines. Therefore, the Belarusian cuisine is one of the most diverse in the continent. It is similar to the Russian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, but is unique in its own way, is hearty and delicious.
Potatoes deserve a special mention: being introduced to the diet of the Belarusians in the 18th century they have formed the basis of many Belarusian dishes for hundreds of years. Among them are famous draniki, kolduny, pyzy, potato sausage, kletski, babka…
For centuries Belarusians consumed limited amounts of meat. Meat was usually served on festive occasions in the form of salted and sun-dried products. With time, the meat dietexpanded. The most frequently used meat included: pork, mutton, beef, poultry (chicken, duck, goose, turkey), game (elk, roe, boar, beaver).
The Belarusian cuisine is a variety of meat and poultry dishes (pyachysta, kumpyachok, machanka, vereshchaka, tushanka, smazhanka), all sorts of home-made sausages, salty salo, byproduct dishes (vantrabyanka, rubtsy – pork belly stuffed with meat and buckwheat porridge), smoked meat…
The Belarusian cuisine is also rich in fish dishes. As a rule, it is river fish (tench, sturgeon, pike, eelpout, bream, eel, trout, perch, carp). Belarusians used to make yushka, dumplings, salt and smoked fish. Today restaurants serve famous "Pike Perch a la Radziwill."
Common dairy products included curd cheese (made of cow and goat milk), sour cream, and butter. Milk is a regular ingredient in many Belarusian recipes, including all kinds of soups, porridges, mokanka.
The pride of the national cuisine is traditional Belarusian bread baked with the use of rye flour. Instead of yeast Belarusians used a special leaven. This is a very healthy product. Гордость национальной кухнитрадиционный белорусский хлеб, запеченный с использованием ржаной муки. Вместо дрожжей белорусы использовали специальную закваску. Это очень здоровый продукт.Belarusian bread is heavier and is a bit sour. In old recipes different additives were used like caraway seeds, linseeds and sunflower seeds. Bread was sometimes baked on the ‘pillow’made from birch and oak leaves.
The contemporary Belarusian cuisine is eclectic. It has preserved old traditional recipeswhich are gradually being revived. Meanwhile dishes from other countries are becoming increasingly popular, too.
For many centuries honey has been the main dessert for the Belarusians. Solodukha(malt dough), kulaga (thick beverage made from berries, flour, sugar, and honey), and baked apples also were popular. The recipes that are famous in Belarus include sweet pancakes with cottage cheese gravy and pears a la Radziwill. Today the most popular desserts are: ice-cream, whipped cream, cakes, fruits and berries (apples, pears, bilberry, cranberry, strawberry).
Vodka (Harelka) – is the most popular strong alcoholic beverage in Belarus. It appeared in the late 15th century and gradually became one of the most common types of alcohol. Belarusians drink vodka on holidays and special occasions.