Carpathian Cuisine

Here we offer you some traditional recipes of the most widespread Carpathian dishes, though ingredients and the ways of cooking may vary depending on the cook.

The Hutsul cuisine is famous for its dishes as well as their uniqueness. The most frequently used products include corn flour and grains, potatos, beans, mushrooms and certainly brynza or “bryndzya”, as the Hutsul people gently call it.

Brynza is a special kind of cheese from sheep’s milk which is made on the mountain valleys and has nothing to do with the cheese labeled “brynza” that you buy in a supermarket. Filtered sheep’s milk is made sour from a special milk leaven curdled from lamb’s stomach which was never shepherded. Milk tubs are put by the fireside and stirred until there appear cheese clusters that are shaped into bigger clots by hands in a tub. Those cheese clots are later hanged in a warm place or just put in the sun. This way there appears budz which is a “semi-manufactured product” of brynza. After one week of warming up the budz is rubbed through salt and butter and then you get brynza.

Banush (also banosh) is cooked in a cast-iron pot on the open fire. Sour cream or cream are poured in a pot and boiled, some salt is added and afterwards corn flour is delicately poured in and stewed with a wooden spoon all the time till the moment there appear fat drops on the surface. A done dish must be medium thickened, of golden colour and have slightly sour taste. Then it is served with cracklings, brynza, mushrooms etc.

Hrybna yushka (mushroom soup) is made of dried white mushrooms boiled in a chicken soup that is served with spices; homemade noodles and greens are added.

Hutsul borshch is made from leavened beet and smoked pork.

Rosivnytsya is a broth made from smoked pork and chopped sauerkraut and beat up with corn grains.

Kulesha is hominy simmered in water and served with brynza or melted cracklings. It can also be boiled with grated potatos.

Holubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls) are often prepared with pickled cabbage leaves and stuffed with potatos or corn grits. You can also add meat or shkvarky (cracklings) to them.

Knyshi are rolls filled with boiled potatos or bryndza (sheep milk cheese). This same word can be used to describe zrazy (doughy potato pancakes with or without filling).

Pyrohy are dumplings stuffed with blueberries (afyny), cheese, cabbage etc.

Bili hryby u smetani (white mushrooms in sour cream) are made of sliced mushrooms; at first they are boiled and sautéed and at the end seasoned with sliced onion, sour cream and greens.

Marynovani bili hryby (pickled white mushrooms) are made of small mushrooms that are simmered for several minutes and a marinade from vinegar, salt, pepper, bay leaf etc poured in. When served, oil and plenty of sliced onion are added.

Zasoleni hruzdi (salted gruzds) are made of peeled milk mushrooms that are at first soaked in water for around three days and later simmered. The gruzds salted in oak barrel are considered to be the tastiest; they are layered with spices and leaves of currant and cherries as well as horseradish and later poured with cold salted pickle.

The Hutsul cuisine also includes huslyanka (sour-milk product), vurda (a sort of sheep’s cheese) and shupenya (a dish from beans).

Boyko cuisine is characterized by its simplicity, yet at the same time, its inventiveness. The most common ingredients used are cornmeal, corn grits, potatos, string beans and mushrooms. Today’s Boyko cuisine is rich with dough-based foods and meat dishes such as baked meat, sausage, salo (pig’s fat), saltseson etc.

Oshchypok is unleavened bread made from oat flour. Boiled mashed potatoes (bulbyanyk or bilbyanyk) can also be added to the bread.

Kyselytsia is an oat kissel. Coarsely ground oat flour is mixed in water and after about half a day, the mixture is strained and boiled on a low heat. In some villages, the residents like to add oatmeal to kissel.

Kvasnenka is a dish similar to borsch, but with plums.

Czyr is oat flour boiled in water. Another dish similar to czyr is holombets (also called hembulya or hambets), which is a thick dough made from oat flour and cornmeal. These dishes are eaten with milk, sour cream or vegetable oil.

Pyrohy or varenyky are boiled dumplings filled with sauerkraut, boiled mashed potatos, bryndza or mashed potatos with cheese. During the summer, you can try blueberry-filled varenyky. Varenyky are usually greased with salo or vegetable oil, sometimes with butter. The dough used to make varenyky can also be used to make palenychky (dumplings without filling) and homemade noodles (tisto, halushky, or rizanky).

Machanka (from the verb machaty: to dip) is a thick gravy. Poultry meat is finely chopped and boiled. Chopped carrots, parsley and sautéed onions are then added. Browned flour is mixed with broth or water and then added to the mixture, which is then seasoned with salt and pepper. Machanka can also be made with mushrooms. It is served without any utensils as you eat it by dipping pieces of bread into the bowl.

Knyhli are fried sticks of dough made from a mixture of potatos and flour and can be served as a garnish for meat dishes.

Many dishes are made with potatos: pyrohy (varenyky), baked bulbyanyky (mashed potato pies stuffed with meat or vegetables), mlyntsi-deruny (potato pancakes, also known as treni ponchyky, plyatsky, trenyky, or terchanyky), halushky (thick, soft, potato-based noodles or dumplings).

On the holidays people make meat loaves and a lot of sweet pastry, namely rolls (zavyvantsi, kruchenyky), croissants, cheese cakes, pancakes (plyatsky), biscuits (palchyky), sponge cake (tsvibak), and honey cakes.

Sos, a jam-like topping made from blueberries and red currants with sugar, is also a traditional food in the mountainous areas.

The Transcarpathian cuisine impresses everybody with its diversity, since it embraces Ukrainian, Hungarian, Romanian, Slovakian, Czech and other dishes. There are many dishes from dough, corn flour, meat and fish; vegetables are also widely used. The Hungarian cuisine is famous for its spiciness and dishes such as gulyás (goulash), bogrács (bograch) etc. are always generously spiced with paprika (mildly pungent red pepper).

The Transcarpathian region is also famous for its delicious coffee that you can taste in cosy cafés of Mukacheve, Uzhhorod, Berehove and other towns. Local coffee lovers say that it dates back to the XVIth century when this popular drink was brought from Hungary. Most residents of Uzhgorod start their day with strong black coffee. No business talk gets started unless the coffee is drunk. The local proverb says that "Lviv is famous for its cafés, but Uzhgorod is famous for its coffee".

Bob-goulash is a soup from beans with smoked meat (often of different kinds), paprika, tomatoes or tomato paste, potatos, spices and greens. Chypetke (pieces of unleavened dough) is also added to the dish.

Bohrach (Hungarian bogrács) is the first course that requires cooking on the fire. At first smalets (lard) is melt in a pot and later onion is cut. When the onion gets slightly rosy, meat (ram and veal ribs as well as neck) is added and then everything is seasoned with spices and ground sweet pepper and grilled until red; afterwards some water, potatos and a bit of carrot are added and then kept until the vegetables are done. Tomato paste can also be added.

Bohrach-goulash or goulash (Hungarian gulyás) is juicy meat (shoulder part etc.) diced 1.5-2 cm big. The diced onion is sautéed until golden and then paprika, meat, garlic, spices are added and fried with a small portion of water in a way that the meat is not simmered, but stewed in a small amount of liquid. When the meat is almost cooked, potatos are added and then slightly fried; afterwards chicken bone broth is poured and sweet pepper and tomatoes are put.

Hombovtsi are made from fresh cheese that is highly rubbed, then semolina, sugar and eggs are added and greatly stirred whereupon left for around 15-20 minutes. Cheese balls of 4-5 cm diameter are made and simmered in salted water under a lid until they get up to the surface. While hombovtsi are being made, breadcrumbs are separately fried until golden and later cream butter and sugar are added. The cooked hombovtsi are strained off through a colander and then put on a heated plate, sprinkled with sautéed breadcrumbs and then poured with lukewarm sour cream.

Kvasolya po-verkhovynsky (Verkhovyna beans). Beans must be soaked for 5-6 hours, simmered in salted water until done and then ground. Flour is slightly fried in sunflower oil and diced onion is added until it gets rosy, afterwards sweet ground pepper is sprinkled and rapidly mixed. Then a little water is poured in and you wait until it is seething by stirring the mixture all the time. The grated beans as well as garlic are added to the mixture and then cooked. The cooked beans are put on a plate bitter and served hot.

Klyahanets is a jellied meat.

Kremzlyky are sort of pancakes from grated potatoes (in other regions they are called deruny or dranyky). Kremzlyky can be stuffed in different ways. It can be either onion fried with salo (pig’s fat) or an egg or even forcemeat. Then a cooked kremzlyk is put on a plate with hot stuffing on it and at the top there is another kremzlyk.

Lekvar is a jam of apples.

Lecho (Hungarian lecsó). Rods of sweet pepper must be peeled, cutting off the core with seeds, and carved. In case a bitter pepper comes across, inner veins can be cut off and then it is scalded. Fresh tomatoes are peeled off from fruit stalks, rinsed and cut in quarters. Onion is peeled, at first cut up to a half and then in half circles. Onion together with heated smalets (lard) or diced and fried smoked salo are put in a saucepan until light brown, and then a bit of ground pepper is added and rapidly mixed. Afterwards cut pepper is put and stewed for 5-10 minutes. Cut tomatoes are added; then they are salted and stewed until done. At the end you add raw eggs by stirring them until thickened. In place of eggs a half-smoked sausage can be used.

Lotsi or lotsi-pechenye is made of portion cut pork slices and rib bones (one per plate). Meat must be lightly beaten, salted, peppered, stuffed with garlic and fried from both sides until there appears rosy rind on it. Onion must be cut in a ring shape, fried until golden and then served together with meat.

Mamalyga or tokan (hominy) is considered to be a highly square dish. It is porridge from corn flour boiled in water. It can be served either together with sour cream and brynza or crumbled in a plate with hot milk. You can also make corn pones from mamalyga by cutting and frying them in the oil or fat. One more option is to layer softly simmered porridge, brynza, brisket and firm cheese in a pot or plate. While boiled, finely grated raw potatoes can also be added to the porridge.

Palachynty (Hungarian palacsinta) are thin flat pancakes (in other Ukrainian region nalysnyky) stuffed with cheese, meat, mushrooms etc.

Paprykash (also poprykash, Hungarian paprikás) is a dish made from meat or fish with sour cream sauce and flavoured with paprika.

Tokan' is a dish from beef and sweet pepper with spices, different vegetables and mushrooms.

Galician (Lviv) Cuisine

Galicians often cook hot vegetable soups as well as cold soups (kholodnyky) — apple, pear, cherry, raspberry, plum, and blackberry soups, among others. Both fresh and dried fruits and berries can be used. The fruits are first boiled in water for a few minutes and then blended to a thick consistency. Sour cream is usually added to the soup. Flour can also be added to thicken the soup: a small amount to the apple, pear, and plum soups, but more to cherry and blueberry soups. These fruit soups can also be served hot with a side of toast.

It’s high time that Lviv, the capital of Galicia, built a monument in honor of shkvarky (cracklings). By golly, for every true Galician this age-old food is a source of life and symbol of prosperity. We Galicians consume shkvarky in such portions that the common European type would have long ago become worm food in Père Lachaise or St. Helena Island from eating so much heart-clogging goodness. Well heck, Galicians add shkvarky to everything except jelly donuts and their tea. The rest of Galicia’s fine cuisine is given life only after adding shkvarky. Every step of a Galician’s life, in grief and in sorrow, but especially in joy, is taken with his pink, crispy, beloved cracklings by his side.
B. Voloshyn “Galician Synopsis”

Kapusniak (Sauerkraut soup) can be made by starting with a broth from fresh or smoked pork or beef. The broth can also be meatless and made from vegetables and mushrooms. Sauerkraut, dried mushrooms, onions, and potatoes are added to the broth, and the soup should boil until the sauerkraut has softened. You can add sour cream to taste.

Borsch (Beet soup), especially Christmas Eve borsch, is made by using a beet kvass or zhur (rye kvass) base. Beets are cut up and covered with water; a few pieces of stale bread, some cumin, and allspice are added to the mixture. Kvass contains a lot of vitamins. It can be consumed as a beverage by diluting it with equal parts water or by heating it up and adding sugar. Zhur is prepared from rye flour and either with or without yeast. For Christmas Eve Dinner, vushka (mushroom filled dumplings) are added to borsch.

Kvaskovyj Borsch (Green borsch) is the same as sorrel soup. Its main ingredients consist of potatos, sorrel leaves, and either hardboiled eggs or raw eggs that are cooked in the boiling borsch.

Rosil is a chicken broth. It is usually served with noodles.

A yeast dough pie filled with buckwheat kasha is a traditional dish in the Yavoriv district. It is served with either mushroom gravy or sour cream.

Pareni (steamed dishes) are made from cabbage, potatos, peas, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, or cauliflower. During the summer, string beans – both boiled and sautéed – are a popular dish.

Kyshka is a traditional dish amongst Galicians. It is a buckwheat and liver or potato sausage that can be prepared either with or without blood. Saltseson (head cheese), homemade pâté (from pork, rabbit, pigeons, ducks, or beef), and studenets (aspic, also known as ledenets or kholodets) made from brains, liver, pig’s feet, rooster, turkey, etc, are also traditional Galician dishes.

Pidbyvky is a common dish in the area. These are thick gravies (machanky) made with mushrooms, chicken, goose, cauliflower, onions, dill, horseradish, parsley and more.

There is a variety of dishes made from grated and boiled potatos: bulbyanyky (mashed potato pies stuffed with meat or vegetables); deruny (also pljatsky, which are potato pancakes or latkes); varenyky (also pyrohy, or potato dumplings) combined with cheese, sauerkraut, and other ingredients; palczyky (“fingers”: boiled potato-based dumplings about the size and shape of a finger), and knedli (potato-based bread-like fried dumplings).

Mizeria is a salad made of finely chopped cucumbers and onions in a sour cream or vegetable oil dressing.

Kryzhavky is cabbage, pickled by pieces with garlic and beet.

Nalysnyky (Ukrainian-style pancakes with various types of filling) are made using flour, eggs and milk. The pancakes are fried like crepes and are filled with just about anything: cheese, sauerkraut, apples, meat, almond flavored filling, etc. After the crepes are filled and folded, they are fried on a lightly buttered or oiled pan.

During the holidays, Galicians bake pyrizhky (rolls) with various fillings; tistechka (cookies), makivnyky (poppy seed rolls), tsvibaky (sponge cakes), pampushky (donuts) with or without filling, medivnyky (honey cakes), zavyvantsi (cake rolls with various fillings), baby (bundt cakes), pletinky (braided sweet breads), oshchypky or vivsjanyky (oatmeal cookies), tsybulnyky (onion pancakes), lamantsi (savory breadsticks), syrnyky (cheesecakes), and more.

You can try all these and many others dishes in local restaurants or bed & breakfasts.

Smachnoho! (Bon appetit!)