Russia loves a dumpling. Deliciously stodgy, they are the comfort food of kings and have seen Russians through many a long cold winter, with even the Tatars and Georgia having their own takes. If you’re planning a visit to Russia in 2018 or beyond, get up to speed with our guide on just how these delicious dough parcels differ.
Pelmeni are moreish little parcels filled with meat, usually pork, or fish. Traditionally a dish native to the Urals, you can and will find these dumplings everywhere in Russia. Brought into Ural cuisine by indigenous people, it is suggested they started off as an adaptation of the Chinese wonton, brought into Siberia and the Urals by the Mongols. Historically, they were are a way of keeping meat through winter, as they could be prepared and then frozen in the snow and cold.
Stuffed raw, the meat is spiced simply with just salt, pepper and garlic, and cooked inside the dough. They are usually served with either a dollop of sour cream and a bit of dill, or in a light broth. Bird cherries, also a native Siberian food, are dried and ground down – pip and all – into a flour. This flour is often added into the pelmeni (and varenyky) dough in the Ural and Siberia area, and so the place to try pelmeni with bird cherry is Yekaterinburg, the Ural’s premier city. Have a go at making your own pelmeni at the cheep and cheerful Pelmeni Klub.
Varenyky and pierogi
These stuffed dumplings are common throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Varenyky is the more commonly used term in Ukraine, often eaten with sweet fillings, while pierogi are the national dish of Poland.
Different to pelmeni as they are usually vegetarian, varenyky and pierogi can be served fried in butter, usually as an appetiser or a dessert. Generally filled with potato, sauerkraut, cheese, mushrooms or cabbage, they can also be made sweet by stuffing them with sweet cheese and fruit.
While varenyky and pelmeni are used to described small fried dumplings, Russians refer to a pie as pirog, and their broader baked pastry family as pirozhki, which can be confusing if you’re new in town. And just to add more dumplings into the mix, manti and khinkali are two more styles of dumplings you’re bound to stumble across if you’re traveling Russia and the post-Soviet states.
Manti are a Tatar dish, and you’ll definitely find them if you catch a World Cup 2018 game in Kazan, especially if you hit up one of the Tatar restaurants around town, like Dom Tatarskoy Kulinarii. But you’ll also find them in Uzbek or Armenian restaurants as well. Stuffed with meat, including horse which is a Tatar speciality, they are usually bigger than pelmeni, look more like a Chinese style dumpling, and are often served with chilli flakes and sour cream.
Traditionally eaten with your hands, khinkali are also prepared with raw meat, so the cooking process traps the juices. Broth is sometimes added for ultimate flavour and juiciness as well. This makes these dumplings so succulent that typically the first bite also involves sucking up the broth and liquids, so as to prevent breakage. While Georgia is the place to get your khinkali fix, Moscow’s Dada Café whip up some pretty delicious dumplings, true to Georgian style.
Pelmeni Klub – Ulitsa Krasnoarmeyskaya 2, Yekaterinburg, Russia, +7 343 328 54 44
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.