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Pelmeni and Vareniki: Russia and Ukraine’s Culinary Treats

4. June 2010 by Christy 0 Comments

Pelmeni and Vareniki are both immensely popular in their respective countries. So exactly what are they?


Russia’s Pelmeni

A traditional staple of Russia, pelmeni are dumplings typically stuffed with minced meat, onion, and salt and served with melted butter or sour cream. Mustard, horseradish, tomato sauce, and vinegar are also popular pairings. 

Pelmeni, which translates to “dough ear” or “ear bread,” originated in Siberia and are sometimes called Siberian dumplings. Hunters took the dumplings on hunting trips because they were light, easy-to-prepare, and nourishing. They also keep extraordinarily well when frozen.

Pelmeni dough is made from flour, water, and occasionally eggs. Though time consuming, it’s traditional for Russians to prepare pelmeni in great quantities and freeze them for later use. Russians pass the time by singing songs, sharing stories, and, of course, drinking vodka.

Today, Russians can purchase frozen pelmeni in any grocery store. However, frozen pelmeni has the same reputation as instant romen in the West as both foods are associated with budget-conscious students and bachelors.

Here’s a fun video showing how to make a lot of pelmeni in a short amount of time.



Ukraine’s Vareniki

Vareniki, like pelmeni, are stuffed dumplings, but vareniki fillings are more varied. They can include cheese, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, cabbage, meat, or fruit. Russians typically serve vareniki with salo bits, onions, or sour cream.

Vareniki, meaning “boiled thing,” are very popular in Ukraine. The most common method of preparation is to wrap vareniki filling with dough, boil the vareniki for several minutes, and then cover them with butter or cooking oil. Some Ukrainians prefer to cook vareniki with steam. For those who don’t have time to prepare the dish the standard way, there is “lazy vareniki” which only takes 10-15 minutes to prepare, from start to finish. The lazy vareniki has no filling. It is simply thick, cheese-based dough.  

In 2006, officials erected a vareniki monument in the city of in Cherkasy, Ukraine. Standing at the entrance of a hotel, the monument shows Cossack Mamay, a Ukrainian folk here, eating vareniki in front a giant dumpling.

Here’s a video of a woman preparing vareniki.


Many of the lovely ladies on HotRussianBrides earn their living as a cook. Why not chat them up to learn more about pelmeni and vareniki?