Borsch – the most iconic dish of the Ukrainian cuisine

When I was in my teens, my grandmother used to often express her dissatisfaction with my reluctant attitude to housework and cooking. “You won’t even be able to cook borsch for your husband!” – she used to exclaim in her attempts to motivate me 🙂 Little my poor granny knew that the ability of cooking tasty borsch would be hardly a merit here (unlike the ability of making perfect chapatis, ha ha 🙂 ). Don’t get me wrong, everyone likes my borsch here in India, but while in a Ukrainian family they cook it on a regular basis (at least once a week), here I can make it just like a special treat – may be once every two months. I love introducing people to my culture through the dishes of the Ukrainian cuisine, but… it seems my attitude to cooking is still rather reluctant 🙂

So, what is borsch? Basically, it’s a beetroot soup with lots of health benefits and good nutritional value. It can be either meat based (beef, pork, chicken – anything will do), or completely vegetarian. And it’s undoubtedly tasty – otherwise, why would I include it in my list of 7 traditional foods of the Ukrainian cuisine you won’t be able to resist 🙂 ?

I don’t photograph my borsch – it’s a daunting task to take an artistic picture of a plate with a bright red liquid in it, and I’m not that skillful a food photographer 🙂 But here I’ve found something more or less acceptable on the net, so you would have an idea.

But let’s go straight to the recipe! Mine will be meatless.
You’ll need:
3 medium beetroots
5-6 big potatoes
2-3 tomatoes
half a cabbage
1 big or 2 medium onions
2 carrots
1 cup of kidneybeans
A bunch of fresh parsley and dill

Borsch ingredients

So, you’ll need a pot with around 2 litres of water. Bring it to the boil and cook your kidneybeans until they’re soft (a shortcut – just prepare the kidneybeans separately in a cooker and put it in the pot with boiling water. Then peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces. Add potatoes to the kidneybeans. Then peel and grate the beetroots. Fry them on a frying pen for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Then add them to the pot with kidneybeans and potatoes. Cook it on slow fire. Meanwhile, chop the onions and fry them until golden brown color (use any oil for frying – olive, oil, sunflower, mustard. Coconut oil would be out of place though, I think). Peel and grate carrots and fry them with the onions. Then take your tomatoes, make a tomato mash in the mixer and pour it into the frying pan, mixing with onions and carrots. Cook it on slow fire for a few minutes, continuously stirring. Then pour this stuff into the pot with potatoes and beetroots. Cut the cabbage and add it to the pot as well. Cook it for 5 minutes, then add black peppers and your favorite spices, salt to taste, chopped parsley and dill and put it off. Your borsch is ready.

Tip 1. If you put a spoonful of sour cream into your plate, the borsch will taste even better.
Tip 2. Borsch is one of those unique dishes that you can eat the whole week. It never happens in our family simple because there are a lot of us, and a pot of borsch gets finished in one go. I know that in India lots of people wouldn’t eat soup that wasn’t cooked just before the meal time. But with borsch it’s different – keep it in the fridge, and after a day or two it will get even tastier, with a rich multilayered flavor.

Bon appetite!

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