No matter where you live in the world, you must try borshch at least once in your lifetime. It’s a very particular – and tasty – dish that has no counterparts outside Slavic cuisine. Just like you have come to love pizza, pasta, sushi, or fried egg noodles, you may well become a fan of borshch.
So what is borshch and is it hard to make it? Borshch is a very hearty first course, sometimes like a vegetable stew with plenty of broth. No, it’s not hard to cook it and the recipe does not ask for dragon’s eggs and a shark’s fin. Ingredients are easily accessible, healthy and help you create a nourishing dinner for a big family. You can also enjoy borshch for a couple of days, just keep it in the fridge: like many other multi-component foods, the longer borshch sits in the pot, the better it becomes. No kidding.
You’ll find many recipes of borshch across the web, just be sure to stick to reliable sources that offer truly Ukrainian authentic instructions. One such source is https://etnocook.com/ where you will learn to cook and serve borshch properly. Recipes are detailed, so you’ll do everything right from the first attempt.
But borshch is more than just food to put on the table. Borshch is a part of traditional culture, it is a part of ritual meals and it can even help you make rain when drought destroys the crops (at least, old people say so). Yep, it’s all in borshch, and now it’s time to read some fun facts about this ruby-red yummy.
- Comfort food and a part of ritual meals. Borshch is obligatorily served at weddings, funerals, and during Christmas Eve meals.
- A way to cast rain spells during the prolonged drought. As the old legends go, buy a new clay pot, cook borshch in it, bring it to a watering hole, and throw both food and a pot into the well. A special chant must be sung during the process. If you ever try this spell, don’t forget to take an umbrella with you and let us know if it will work.
- There exists the so-called Borshch Belt – a stretch of territories running from Poland across Ukraine and Belarus and to borderland regions of Russia where borshch is a traditional dish known for centuries.
- Borshch has more than 70 regional varieties. Some are simple and fast in making; others are very expensive, ask for a big variety of ingredients, and are served on special occasions.
- In the west, the dish is cooked thin, with lots of broth. In the central region, borshch is cooked hearty and thick, so that a spoon stands upright when you stick it in a pot.
- Borshch in the Poltava region is served with wheat dumplings. They are put into a bowl before borshch is poured in.
- In the northwest regions, borshch can be made with the addition of dried fruit and prunes that lend a smoky flavor to the stock.
- Christmas borshch in Lviv (a famous city in the west of Ukraine) is basically beet broth served with mushrooms-filled dumplings.
- In summer, acidity in borshch can be achieved by adding cherries, unripe apples, or red currant. The spiciness is provided by red hot pepper that is added whole and removed before serving.
- Borshch index is a Ukrainian equivalent of BigMac index: costs of making one pot of borshch on a certain date are taken for evaluating the purchasing power and inflation of the local currency.
We hope our brief overview made you hungry both for borshch and for more information on the rich and tasty Ukrainian cuisine. Stay tuned and learn more about this flavorful culinary tradition!