The recipes of other nations (Baltic, Jewish and German) have appeared in the Belarusian cuisine since the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. For many centuries Belarusians didn’t consume a lot of meat. Meat was replaced by lard as well as in Ukrainian cuisine. It was salted with the skin. The substitute for meat dishes were also mushrooms, which at that time were not pickled, but dried.
In Belarusian cuisine, unlike other national cuisines, dairy and sweet products were almost never eaten. The drinks like kissel or pastries were served for dessert instead of sweets.
Later the Belarusians began to consume more meat. Meat dishes were usually cooked for holidays. The most popular were pork, beef, poultry and game. Such dishes as machanka, verashchaka, smazhanka, homemade sausages, salted lard have been preserved in the national cuisine till nowadays.
River fish was also actively used by the Belarusians in folk recipes. The most popular were pike, sturgeon, bream, eel, carp, perch, pikeperch. Fish was used for soups and trickled pastries.
Rural cuisine was hearty, simple and always fresh. The majority of dishes were served to the table hot. The dishes of prince and gentry were more varied and exotic. Pikeperch and various delicacies were often served to magnate tables.
In Soviet times, the Belarusian cuisine was influenced by recipes of other nations. Ukrainian and Caucasian dishes appeared in public catering.
In the 20th century, a variety of dishes made of wheat flour and numerous salads were added to the Belarusian recipes.
Among the most popular meat dishes are:
Bigos - stewed cabbage with meat;
Kolduny - potato pancakes with meat;
Machanka - usually a dish of various meat trimmings in the form of a sauce served with pancakes;
Smazhanka - meat pie.
Among the popular modern soups of Belarusian cuisine are uha, borscht, mushroom and pea soup.
Of alcoholic beverages, Belarusian tinctures based on vodka, honey, cranberries under various names like (zubrovka, krambambula, etc.) has been preserved. Kvass and birch juice are very popular.
Honey has always been very popular in Belarusian home cooking. Belarusians love pancakes with honey, honey porridge, and pies. For a long time, honey has been used to make malted bread (dough), kissel, and baked apples.
Gingerbread is a sweet floury dish, which came to us from ancient times and in the Belarusian language was called "perniki". It is believed that the name of this delicacy originates from pagan times, when the sun god Perun was worshipped. People sacrificed to the gods, and that is when animal figures made of sweet and tasty pastry were learned to be modeled. Then not only the name of the sweet dessert has changed, but also the taste, as gingerbread began to be baked from wheat flour, not from rye.
Nowadays there are still debates among historians about the origin of pancakes. There are several different versions. Some people believe that pancakes began to be baked on the basis of rye sourdough. Others say that the word "pancake" came from the word "mlyn" (mill). Earlier pancakes were baked from different kinds of flour, but now pancakes are baked mainly from wheat flour based on yeast, milk, sour cream or kefir. Pancakes are usually eaten with a variety of fillings, jam or honey.
Even today you can taste the old national recipes in various restaurants of Belarusian cuisine, which guests of our country are happy to visit. They serve not only country dishes, but also delicacies, which were enjoyed by the gentry and the Belarusian nobility.
In the menu of modern Belarusian restaurants, you can find dishes of not only Belarusian, but also Caucasian, Eastern, Western European cuisine.
However, tourists who come to our country should definitely try the dishes of Belarusian cuisine, such as draniki, borscht, machanka, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, lard and national tinctures.