Spices are widely used in the preparation of modern and ancient Ukrainian dishes. They emphasize the taste, add unique accents and can even make a simple recipe unforgettable. What’s interesting about spices is that many of them were used by Ukrainian ancestors hundreds of years ago.
Here is the list of spices and herbs that are most widespread in the traditional Ukrainian menu.
Mint is a very fragrant herb that contains menthol, vitamins D, A, B, and C, and a complex of minerals and organic acids. It helps strengthen the nervous system, relieves pain and spasms, improves heart function, and speeds up metabolism. Also, this herb has antibacterial properties: it prolongs the shelf life of meals and pickles.
Mint has a specific taste that can’t be confused with anything else. Its leaves give dishes a refreshing taste and flavor. Mint is used by cooks around the world, most often for the preparation of desserts, salads, vegetable and meat dishes.
In Ukrainian cuisine, mint is added fresh when preparing vegetable dishes and main courses. Experienced cooks highly recommend cutting the mint very finely to give the food the desired taste.
Ukrainian cuisine is not as spicy as Mexican or Indian, but pepper is always a great spice to emphasize the taste of our national dishes. Usually, cooks add 4 main types of pepper:
– Scented pepper is used in various marinades, as well as for the preparation of fish and meat dishes, dough, drinks and sauces. You can use ground pepper or pepper in corns.
– Black pepper suits to enhance the taste of fish, meat, mushroom, vegetable, and egg dishes. It is believed to be the most versatile spice.
– Red pepper has very spicy seed pods. They are carefully added mainly to meat, rice, and vegetable dishes, rarely – to fish and dairy products.
– White pepper is not so hot but it is never used for desserts. It is best to add white pepper to salads.
The history of horseradish goes back to the Far East but Ukrainians consider this spice as their native. The plant can be seen in towns and wild areas and can be eaten – fresh and cooked. All parts of horseradish are edible: roots and leaves.
Fresh leaves are mainly used for the preparation of salads, marinades for cucumbers and tomatoes, and soups. If you chop the fresh root of horseradish and mix it with salt and vinegar, then you’ll get a perfect addition to boiled or stewed meat. Add sour cream and cranberries to the fresh horseradish root – and you will have a bright game sauce. Chopped horseradish root can also be used as an alternative to mustard.
Dill is a fragrant plant rich in various vitamins and minerals. It contains provitamin A, vitamins E, D, C, and B, as well as biologically active compounds, essential oils, and flavonoids. Dill is a source of calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and fiber. It is helpful in treating insomnia and gastrointestinal disorders. This is an indispensable spice for those who follow a salt-free diet.
In the flowering state, dill is great for marinating and pickling vegetables, while fresh or dried dill is usually added to fish, meat, poultry, vegetables, and salads. It is believed that the use of this plant in cooking protects dishes from premature spoilage and mold.
Cumin is a fragrant spice with a nutty flavor. The plant is widespread in Europe, Central Asia, and is grown in some regions of Ukraine. It is known for its healing properties, namely to improve digestion and metabolism.
Because of its burning taste, cumin is most often added to meat dishes and bean recipes. It is interesting that in modern cooking it began to be used for baking aromatic bakery products with the peculiar bright flavor and taste of spices.
Anise is a famous spice known for its healing properties from antiquity. This spice has been known in the Ukrainian cuisine since the time of Kievan Rus, but it has become most widespread since the XIX century.
In cooking, anise is widely used. Thanks to its sweet taste and bright refreshing flavor, it is good for baking, desserts, fruit salads, nuts, and dried fruits. Anise also perfectly emphasizes the taste of puddings, cream desserts, and drinks.
Cooks have a wide field for experiments with anise because it goes well with such spices as garlic, coriander, dill, and bay leaves. That’s why this spice can be a universal addition to meat and fish dishes.
Now you know what spices and herbs are popular in Ukraine and it’s all up to you whether to use them or not. Yet, the Ukrainian dishes you cook will taste even more delicious if you add authentic spices and herbs to them!
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