The Liverpool team have arrived in Kiev ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Sure, the players are probably more preoccupied with the upcoming match and fuelling their bodies to be at peak performance, but we’re sure some of them are just a little bit curious about Ukrainian cuisine.
Even though they’ll likely be waiting until Sunday to let loose with their diets, in preparation for this we’ve put together a definitive list of the Ukrainian dishes the footballers, and any traveller to the country, should try.
The weather in Ukraine isn’t exactly comparable to Ibiza, which is probably why borscht is so popular – it’s a hearty, warming soup packed full of nutrients.
Recipes of borscht vary, but the ingredient at its core is beetroot, which is why it’s such an unusually vibrant red colour. Most are made with beef stock with a variety of vegetables like potatoes and carrots.
In summer, you can also get cold borscht – beetroots blended with sour cream or kefir.
2. Chicken Kiev
OK, we admit it – no one is entirely sure where the chicken Kiev came from. It could have been France, Russia or Ukraine. We’re including it on the list because of the name, and the fact that it’s a staple dish in many Ukrainian restaurants.
It’s a 70s classic of pounded chicken stuffed with garlic and butter, coated in breadcrumbs and then fried. Be careful when eating this one, because the scalding hot butter has been known to jump out at diners when they cut into the meat.
Most eastern European countries have their own variation on the dumpling, and varenyky is how the Ukrainians do things.
Also known as pierogis, they are simple dumplings made out of flour, water and salt, and stuffed with whatever you fancy. Classic fillings tend to be meat, potatoes and veg or cottage cheese. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you can also have them for dessert stuffed with berries and honey.
Dairy products are a delicacy throughout eastern Europe – particularly quark, sour cream and soft cheese.
These are particularly used in the dessert syrniki – a fried pancake made out of quark (cottage cheese can also be used), flour, eggs and sugar. They’re sweet and tend to be served with sour cream, jam, honey or berries.
The fritters are meant to be brown on the outside, but retain a gooey texture in the middle.
Soups and stews are particularly popular in the country, and okroshka is a variation suitable for summer.
It’s a cold soup, with a classically Ukrainian lengthy list of ingredients. Standard recipes tend to have raw veg like cucumbers and radishes as well as boiled potatoes, eggs, cooked meat (anything like beef or ham), with a dairy product like sour cream or kefir stirred through.
Sure, it’s not the most glamorous of dishes, but it really packs in a lot of vegetables, and kefir is meant to be incredible for your gut.
Like many Ukrainian delicacies, deruny are made of simple and easily accessible ingredients. They’re essentially potato pancakes – the spuds are shredded, mixed with eggs and flour, and then fried on a griddle.
The result is delightfully crisp and crunchy, and often paired with the Ukrainian favourite of sour cream.
Holubtsi is another savoury comfort food for when the weather’s grim. Fun fact: “Holubtsi” literally means “little pigeons” in Ukrainian.
They are stuffed cabbage rolls, and just like with vareniki you can get a whole variety of fillings. The most popular stuffing is a the simple combination of ground meat and rice.