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  • Chef Kaviraj Khialani
  • Editorial, 24 Feb 2022, 16:56 IST

Have A Taste Of Russia With These Recipes By Chef Kaviraj Khialani

Looking for easy Russian recipes? Here are some by Chef Kaviraj Khialani!
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  • Chef Kaviraj Khialani
  • Editorial, 24 Feb 2022, 16:56 IST
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russian cusine food

It has been observed that not many people think of Russian food as being internationally renowned when compared to some more widespread cuisines, but there are more and more people around the world who are discovering it and learning to appreciate its qualities. Russian food derives from the great geographical expanse of this country and its multicultural character, which has resulted in a great variety of dishes.

Given the characteristic cold climate of this region of the world, the country has a lot of delicious traditional dishes to help people keep warm. People that discover Russian food for the first time, are often surprised by the variety of ingredients and flavors, which is influenced by its connection to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

It is also said that Russian food derives from an innumerable wealth of dishes, due firstly to the multicultural character of the country and secondly to its vast geographical size. Many dishes we consider today as typically Russian, are in reality of Polish, French or Italian origin. They arrived at the court of Catherine II through the Empress’s contacts with Western Europe.

Russia’s gastronomic foundations are based on the peasant food of rural populations located in places with an extremely cold climate. Many of the different dishes of soups and stews with meat and fish are prepared by adding spices to native dishes using some techniques from the Mongols and Tatars in the 13th century.

Caviar is one of a specialty in Russia. There are two types: the red salmon caviar that we can order in any restaurant or food house, and black caviar, which you’ll only find inexpensive restaurants. In fact, for Russians at home, the most normal thing is to eat red caviar on a slice of white bread without toasting with butter. The black is reserved for special occasions, such as Christmas. Did you know the word “caviar” comes from the Persian word “khavah” which means “egg”?

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Russians don’t conceive a lunch without soup as a first course, and for dessert, they usually have a sweet accompanied by black tea with lemon, which they drink every hour of the day. And yes, the drink that most people drink in Russia is not always vodka, it is tea too! And what about vodka? To take it, Russians have their own protocol, first of all, you must exhale through your mouth, then drink it in one gulp and then take a breath.

Surprisingly, breakfast in Russian food usually consists of a cup of tea or coffee and a sandwich with some butter, cheese or ham, or some bakery, just for simplicity going along with a choice of bread. The most traditional non-alcoholic drink is Kvass (after Coca-Cola). By the way, due to the climate, soft drinks are usually served without ice, if you want it, order it separately.

“Russian Food is not only healthy, nutritious, appetizing & worth the effort being put in order to dish out mouth-watering, tempting & tantalizing delicacies to treat our loved ones” – Dr. Kaviraj Khialani – Celebrity Master Chef.

Here are a few of my select all-time favourite recipes from Russian Cuisine:

Recipe-1 CHEBUREKI SNACK

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A popular Russian street-side snacky food, dough encased with mincemeat and fried]

Ingredients:

  • For the wrappers:
  • Readymade tortilla wraps can be used as well.
  • To make fresh wrappers:
  • Refined flour- 1 and a half cup
  • Oil-2 tsp
  • Salt- 1 pinch
  • Baking powder-1/4 tsp
  • Egg yolk- 1 no
  • Warm water- as needed to make a firm dough
  • For the mince-meat stuffing:
  • Red meat of your choice/ chicken mince- 250 gms
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Assortment of herbs- parsley/coriander/basil etc
  • Garlic-1 tsp chopped
  • Spring onion-1 med size chopped
  • Spring onion greens- 2-3 tbsp. chopped
  • White wine- 2-3 tsp optional
  • Red pepper sauce- 1-2 tsp – optional
  • To seal and fry:
  • Oil- as needed to deep fry
  • Egg wash to seal the edges of the wrappers.

To serve with:

The assorted choice of dips/ sauces to go along.

Method:

  1. Assemble all the ingredients for the Chebureki snack.
  2. Prepare the dough mix, a firm pliable, semi-hard dough.
  3. Cover and rest the dough for 15-20 mins.
  4. Meantime to work on the stuffing/filling we have two options. The first one the classic way is to work on all of It together in a mixing bowl and use it raw itself, it gets cooked as it gets encased inside the dough and gets fried and ready to eat. The second option is to separately cook the mince in a pan and then cool it down a little and then stuff them inside the Chebureki dough.
  5. To cook the filling and use, heat 2 tsp oil/butter in a pan and saute the garlic, onions, herbs, mince-meat, add a little refined flour, a little stock or water and cook the mince for 8-10 mins, add a little mashed potato to enable better texture and binding.
  6. Divide the dough into small lemon-sized balls, roll out each one of them into the round of 2-3-inch diameter, cut them out into neat rounds. Place small portions of the mince on each wrapper, spread it evenly, and then apply a little egg wash and seal it into a half-moon shape using a fork crimp and seal the edges. Deep fry in medium hot oil to a nice golden color and serve hot.

Recipe-2 BORSCHT SOUP

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[a delicate beetroot coloured and flavoured soup, popularly from Ukraine, can be made veg as well while some recipes use red meat as well]

Ingredients:

  • Oil- 2 tsp
  • Butter- 1 tsp
  • Bay leaf- 1 no
  • Garlic- 2-3 cloves, chopped
  • Onion-1 small, chopped
  • Potatoes-2 small, peeled, and cubed
  • Beetroots- 2-3 med sized, peeled, and cut
  • Carrot-1/2 cut, cubed
  • Cabbage-1/2 cup, shredded
  • Tomatoes- ½ cup, chopped
  • Dill leaves- 2-3 tbsp. chopped
  • Water/ stock- 3-4 cups
  • Fennel seeds-1-2 tsp roasted/crushed
  • Fresh cream/sour cream -2-3 tsp for garnish.

Method:

  1. Pre-prep all the ingredients for the vegetarian recipe of borscht soup.
  2. Heat oil/butter in a saucepan, add in the bay leaf, garlic, onions, and saute for a few seconds. Add in the potatoes, carrots, beetroot, tomatoes, cabbage, salt, pepper, fennel, dill leaves, water/stock, and bring it to a boil.
  3. Simmer the soup for 20-25 mins, and then we have two options while in some cases they leave it the way it is with chunks of veggies visible and in some, we also blend it up and puree the soup as well.
  4. Adjust the texture, seasonings as per taste and add in the stock, etc as needed and portion the soup into serving bowls, garnish with fresh dill/parsley, and some fresh cream/sour cream and serve hot.

Recipe-3 Olivier Salad

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Ingredients:

  • For the base of the salad:
  • Assorted salad leaves- 1 cup
  • For the body of the salad:
  • Veg and non-veg options are possible
  • For the veg:
  • Carrots-1/2 cup cubed, boiled
  • Green peas-1/4 cup, boiled
  • Potato cubes-1/2 cup, boiled
  • French beans- 3-4 no, cut into small pieces, boiled.
  • Pineapple slice- 1-2 no, cubed
  • For the non-veg:
  • Boiled chicken cubes-1/2 cup
  • Diced ham/ salami- ¼ cup
  • Sausages- ¼ cup sliced
  • Boiled eggs-1-2, cubed, sliced
  • Roast/ grilled meat/chicken etc can also be used.
  • For the dressing of the salad:
  • Mayonnaise dressing- 1 cup
  • Mustard paste-1 tsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lime juice- 1-2 tsp
  • Sugar-1 pinch
  • For the garnish of the salad:
  • Cherry tomatoes-2-3 no cut 1 x 2
  • Fresh herbs/parsley- 1-2 sprigs

Method:

  1. Pre-prep all the ingredients for the salad recipe.
  2. One can assemble the salad and allow it to chill for some time and then do the plating just before service.
  3. To start with clean, rinse the lettuce leaves, place them in ice-cold water to retain freshness and crisp texture.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine together the dressing and add in the ingredients for the body of the salad, once can choose between various ingredients and veg/non-veg as well.
  5. Mix the salad well, adjust texture and seasonings and allow to chill, just before serving pat dry the lettuce leaves and arrange them on a salad plate/ salad platter and spoon in the chilled salad and garnish, serve immediately.

Recipe-4 CHICKEN STROGANOFF

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[a delicate and mild flavoured Russian main course recipe usually with beef/red meat, laced in creamy mushroom gravy, here it is being done with chicken]

Ingredients

  • Boneless chicken breasts- 250-300 gms, sliced
  • For the marination:
  • Oil-2 tsp
  • Garlic-1 tsp fine chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lime juice/white vinegar/white wine- anyone to be used
  • Paprika powder/chili flakes-1/2 tsp
  • Mustard paste-1/2 tsp
  • Apply marination, keep refrigerated for 20 -30 mins, coat with dry flour –maida and keep ready.
  • For the sauce:
  • Oil-2 tsp
  • Butter-2 tsp
  • Garlic-1 tsp chopped
  • Spring onion-2-3 chopped
  • Water/chicken stock-1/2 cup
  • Thick cream- cooking variety- 2 cups
  • Mustard paste- 1 tsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Gherkins- 2-3 tbsp. sliced
  • Mushrooms-1 cup fresh, sliced
  • White wine-2-3 tsp, optional
  • Parsley- 2-3 tsp, chopped

To serve with: buttered tossed flat noodles/steam rice

Method:

  1. Pre-prep all the ingredients for the recipe.
  2. Marinate the chicken pieces and post that dredge/coat with dry maida and keep aside.
  3. Using a thick bottomed open flat pan, heat oil and butter to start with and shallow fry the chicken pieces on a high flame to get a nice light brown color and cook them in the pan for 2-3 mins, remove and keep aside.
  4. To the same pan add in some oil and butter and saute the garlic and spring onions for 1 min. add in the mushrooms, salt, pepper, little parsley, add some white wine if desired here at this stage.
  5. Add in the thick cooking cream, little water or stock, mustard paste, and also add the chicken pieces back into the sauce and simmer for 6-9 mins until the chicken pieces are tender.
  6. Finally, add in gherkins towards the end of the cooking process and add some more freshly chopped parsley and serve hot.

Recipe- 5 MEAT AND VEG PLOV 

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[a delicious recipe with subtle flavors of meat and mild spices steeped together with rice and garden veggies, make it a great dish to enjoy]

Ingredients:

  • Oil-2 tbsp.
  • Butter-1 tbsp.
  • Garlic pod- 1 no, unpeeled.
  • Onion-1 small, chopped
  • Meat- lamb/mutton with bones- shoulder part- 500 gms, cut into pieces.
  • Short grain rice/ Arborio/kolam rice- 1 and a half cup
  • Carrots-1 cup cubed
  • Potatoes-1 cup cubed
  • Celery-1 stalk cut
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • All spice powder-1 tsp
  • Lime juice-2 tsp
  • Paprika powder/ chili flakes-1 tsp
  • Cumin powder-1 tsp
  • Parsley/coriander-2 tbsp. chopped
  • Raisins- 2 tbsp.
  • Cashews-2 tbsp.

Method:

  1. Pre-prep all the ingredients for the Plov recipe.
  2. Heat oil and butter in a pan, add in the garlic pod, onions, saute and add in the parboiled meat pieces.
  3. Add in the rice, salt, cumin powder, allspice powder, and mix well. Fry the mixture well for a couple of minutes. Add in the stock/water and allow to simmer and cook until the meat and rice are well cooked.
  4. When the rice is halfway cooked, add in the carrots and potatoes and continue cooking on a low flame. Finally add in the lime juice, coriander/parsley, nuts and mix well. Serve hot.

Recipe-6 KASHA- SWEET PORRIDGE

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Ingredients:

  • Buckwheat/ cracked wheat/ daliya- 1 cup
  • Milk-500 ml- 750 ml
  • Sugar to taste
  • Honey/ maple syrup-2-3 tbsp.
  • Cinnamon powder-1/4 tsp
  • Butter-1-2 tsp
  • Brown sugar-1-2 tsp
  • Raisins- 2-3 tbsp.
  • Walnuts-2-3 tsp
  • Almonds- 2-3 tsp
  • Dates- 3-4 sliced
  • Apricots- 2-3 sliced

Method:

  1. Startup with the cleaning, rinsing, and soaking of the cracked wheat/daliya as we usually use in India. Ideally, around 2-3 hours of soaking works.
  2. Using a thick-bottomed saucepan, add butter and saute the drained wheat, add in cinnamon powder, and mix.
  3. Add in the milk and simmer, allow to cook for 20- 25 mins, stir occasionally. Add more milk as needed.
  4. Now add in the sugar, honey/maple syrup, etc as per taste and simmer for another 12-15 mins. It will start taking up texture and get thicker as well.
  5. Lastly, we add in the assorted nuts as per choice and mix them in. there is also mention of brown sugar as well which adds a nice flavor once added towards the end into the porridge. Garnish with assorted nuts and serve the porridge with a choice of cut fruits.

On a Concluding Note:

The Food of Russia though a little different in taste, flavours and varied a little in a number of ways is indeed worth a try! Subtle and simple, robust and enticing, balanced to proportion is what I have experienced it to be in my own exposure with the delicacies from its authentic kitchens. 

While we still need to explore a lot more on this cuisine and try and adapt to its uniqueness and create awareness about it by having a few of the recipes tried out in our kitchens, work on modifying them in such a way that they suit our palates even better. For instance, they have a rice preparation called Plov which simply refers to a pulao concept with veg/non-veg options. This was one of the first recipes I personally found acceptable and versatile as well. Similarly, a little change and open mind towards welcoming Russian foods onto our tables would truly be worthwhile.

Stay tuned to HerZindagi for more such recipe by chef Kaviraj Khialani who is not just a celebrity Master Chef but has a varied experience with hotels and airlines. He is an author, food writer,  food designer, consultant, and creative cuisine specialist. 

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