The Foods eaten by the people of Belarus

Belarusian cuisine has been shaped by the region's agrarian history, harsh climate, and its place at the crossroads of Eastern and Western cultures. Over the last 500 years, the diet has been largely based on crops that can be cultivated in the cold climate and soils of the region. Influences come from neighboring countries like Russia, Poland, and Ukraine, as well as historical connections to the Lithuanian Grand Duchy and later, the Soviet Union. Here's an overview of traditional foods in Belarus:


  • Potatoes: Known as "the second bread" in Belarus, potatoes have been a major part of the diet and are used in various dishes, including the famous "draniki" (potato pancakes).
  • Rye and Wheat Bread: Bread is considered almost sacred and accompanies almost every meal.


  • Pork, Beef, and Poultry: These meats are commonly consumed, often in the form of sausages or as an ingredient in soups and stews.
  • Fish: In areas near rivers and lakes, fish such as pike and carp are also consumed.


  • Sour Cream: Often used as a garnish or to add richness to soups and stews.
  • Cheese: Though not as prevalent as in some other European cuisines, cheese is still consumed, usually in fresh or lightly aged forms.


  • Cabbage, Beets, and Carrots: Commonly used in soups such as "borscht" or pickled for preservation.
  • Mushrooms: Foraged from forests and often dried, pickled, or used in soups.


  • Peas and Beans: Often used in stews and soups, sometimes as a meat substitute during fasting periods.


  • Apples, Plums, and Berries: Often consumed fresh in season, or preserved as jams, jellies, or compotes for the winter.

Herbs and Spices:

  • Dill, Parsley, and Bay Leaves: The most commonly used herbs and spices, providing subtle flavoring.
  • Garlic and Onion: Used for seasoning many dishes.

Sweets and Desserts:

  • Blintzes: Thin pancakes often filled with sweet cheese or fruit.
  • Babka: A type of sweet, yeast-leavened bread or cake, often with raisins or other dried fruit.


  • Kvass: A fermented beverage made from bread, rye malt, and sometimes added flavors like berries or mint.
  • Tea and Coffee: Consumed regularly, although tea is generally more traditional.

Historical and External Influences:

  • Russian Influence: Dishes like "pelmeni" (dumplings) and "borscht" (beet soup) are shared with Russian cuisine.
  • Polish and Lithuanian Influence: Dishes like "bigos" (a stew of cabbage and meat) and various pastries show the influence of Poland and Lithuania.
  • Soviet Legacy: During the Soviet era, foods from other Soviet republics became popular, including Central Asian and Caucasian dishes.

Traditional Belarusian food is hearty and filling, designed to provide sustenance through long, cold winters. It makes extensive use of potatoes, bread, and simple but flavorful combinations of meat and vegetables. While Belarusian cuisine has absorbed various influences over the centuries, it has retained a distinct character that reflects the country's land and history.

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