Russia on a Plate - Part 2: Tatar and Bashkir, Caucasian and Ural cuisine
Are you hungry? That’s good because you’re just about to read part two of our mini-series on Russian cuisine. One week ago, we spoke about the Siberian, Kuban and Cisurals cuisine, today we’ll be focusing on the Tatar and Bashkir cuisine as well as on the Caucasian and Ural cuisine. Let’s start with the Tatar and Bashkir cuisine.
Chak-chak is the staff of life
The most popular dish among the Tatar and Bashkir cuisine is chak-chak. The true origin of this treat is not known. But there is a beautiful legend saying that the khan (king) of Volgian Bulgaria decided to marry off his only son and he wanted a new dish to be served on the wedding table. He wanted the dish to be easy to prepare, preserve its taste for a long time, be nutritious and look good. From all the variety of dishes offered by culinary masters, chefs and simple people, the khan chose chak-chak, a dessert prepared by a shepherd’s wife from flour, eggs and honey. Since then, they serve chak-chak to newlyweds at tatar and bashkir weddings as the most precious treat and decoration of the table.
In various areas this dish may look differently – some have thicker pieces, other have longer pieces, some are hill-shaped, and other have round shape. Some ethnic groups even call it differently. Anyhow, chak-chak is a favourite treat for thousands of people.
Caucasian cuisine: for those who prefer it hot
Shashlyk, plilaf, khinkali, khachapuri, pirogies and flat bread, lulah kebab – your appetite is already tempted only by naming these dishes. Caucasian cuisine recipes are based on what the mountains provide for the people. This usually includes mutton and beef, poultry, curdled dairy, rice and flour. There are not so many vegetables, those being onions and tomatoes, but plenty of dill, parsley, green onions and other greens. When cooking rich dishes, local chiefs do not spare spices, so they are always spicy and often hot.
There are some dishes in Caucasian cuisine that take us to French and Italian cuisines. For instance, Adyghe or Circassian schips resembles boeuf bourguignon. At first, beef or veal is braised with various spices, then vegetables are sauteed, then everything is mixed together. After that, water is added with oil and a corn flour mix and the stewing continues. Due to tomatoes and bell peppers, the dish receives its deep dark colour.
The remarkable dishes of Caucasian cuisine are Adyghe hard-to-pronounce shkhomchkhanthups soup with chestnuts and pine cone jam being cooked in Kabardino Balkariya and Karachay-Cherkessia.
Not just pelmeni
The Ural cuisine mainly consists of rather nutritious and easy to cook dishes.
Kartovnitsa (potato casserole), Iset cutlets, skoblyanka, gruzdyana are the typical representatives of Ural cuisine. Often they are served with sauerkraut with added carrots or cranberries. By the way, Uralians consume saurkraut as a side dish with almost any type of food. They even add it to okroshka (cold soup).
The main dish of the Uralian cuisine is pelmeni. As opposed to their fellows from the other regions, they are steamed in a special way and served with the sauce made of pepper, minced garlic, vinegar and salt. Another famous Ural dish is posikunchiki. These small deep fried pies are distinguished among other baked products by a very juicy stuffing. Posikunchiki may have both meat and vegetables inside, such as radish with honey or baked turnip. Another wide-spread Ural treat is parenki – candied turnips, neeps, radishes or carrots. Ural cuisine is rich with forest produce like mushrooms and berries. Bird cherry, seabuckthorn and foxberry are used not only as jam base, but also as stuffing for sweet baked products.
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