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9 Traditional Ukrainian Dishes You’ll Love (And One You Probably Won’t)

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Ukrainian cuisine is extremely underrated. Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to it than potatoes and cabbage. Thanks to climate conditions, geographical influences, the country’s famed soil, and a culture that is deeply tied to agriculture, Ukrainian food is full of complexity. Anybody who has had the privilege of being served a home-cooked Ukrainian meal knows it is an unforgettable experience. Here are 10 Ukrainian dishes that you definitely need to try:

Chicken Kyiv

Naturally we have to start with the dish that everybody has heard of: Chicken Kyiv. This simple but satisfying item is on the menu of Ukrainian restaurants in London, Toronto, Chicago, New York, and everywhere else. It consists of a chicken breast that has been lightly fried and butter that flows out when you cut into it. The process is pretty tricky, but with a bit of practice you too can learn how to make it right!

Potato pancakes

Known in Ukraine as deruny, these fried potato pancakes are the perfect complement to any meal. Begin by finely grating raw potatoes and onions until you have a good mixture going. Thoroughly mix it with eggs and flour, but making sure that the batter isn’t too thick. After frying it, season it with a bit of salt, and feel free to add mushrooms, pork or chicken, and fresh herbs. Or you can just opt for the classic combination of pancakes and Ukrainian sour cream (smetana).

Banush

The southwestern Carpathian region of Ukraine is like no other part of the country. Surrounded by mountains and full of adventurous, horse-loving Hutsuls who speak their own unique dialect, it comes as no surprise that the food is also one-of-a-kind. The best example of this is banush, a Carpathian staple that consists of corn grits, fried salo, and sheep’s cheese brynza that somewhat resembles feta. It’s cooked over a fire and extremely rich. For good measure, they throw in a few mushrooms collected from the surrounding forests.

Salo

Ukrainians love their salo and aren’t afraid to say it. It’s the backfat of the pig; essentially bacon but mostly white with some specks of meat. It is commonly salted and spread on black bread topped with a clove of raw garlic. Alternatively, it is served with fried potatoes for a treat that might shave years off your life, but you’ll agree is well worth it for the culinary experience.