Voices from Russia

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Golubtsi: Veggie Take on Old-Time Old-School Favourite (A Nosh for the Lents)

00 golubtsi. stuffed cabbage. russian food. 15.12.13


To get you in the mood for cooking, here’s a sweet Masha i Medved cartoon with the Bear, the Panda, and Masha in the kitchen (share it with your kids… you DON’T need to know Russian to get the point)…


Editor’s Note:

Show some creativity! You could replace the rice with kasha or barley (or use short-grain rice in place of long-grain or add some wild rice), or you could use diced bell pepper and drained diced tomatoes instead of the mushrooms. Want to chop up a jalapeño and toss it in? Hey, be the first Mexican Russian cook on the block… or, it is the first Russian Mexican­? You could use a mushroom sauce or a sour cream (or yoghurt) sauce with dill. Of course, if you wish to go the traditional route, the customary vegetable oil is sunflower oil. MILLIONS of babas CAN’T be wrong!

Hey, Orthodox people, if it’s one of the four Lents, omit the dairy products… remember, Baba has a broom and she knows how to use it! WHACK! “What kind of atheist are you?” WHACK! “This is a Christian house, you disrespectful lunk! WHACK! “Now, go to confession!”



Cabbage rolls stuffed with various ingredients is a very popular dish in Russia. It’s common not only in Russia, but also in Balkan ethnic cuisines, as well in other parts of Europe (such as Finland and Sweden), and in the Middle East as well. The cabbage rolls are “golubtsi” in Russian, and the word sounds like the Russian word for pigeon… “golub”. Apparently, in the 17th century, when French cuisine was gaining unprecedented popularity in tsarist Russia, it was fashionable to eat pigeons prepared on a grill in the open air. Later on, in similar fashion, cooks used the grill to prepare cabbage rolls called “fake pigeons”… that’s where the name comes from. Traditionally, golubtsi have rice and minced-meat filling. Nowadays, people prepare a vegetarian version with rice, mushrooms, and a vegetable filling. The process of making cabbage rolls is time-consuming and requires certain skills, but the result is worth the effort.




(For 8-10 pieces)


  1. It’s better to use a larger cabbage. Remove the cabbage leaves, cutting them from the stem one by one, trying not to damage the leaves. You should cut down the thick part at the bottom of each leaf to make rolling easier. Then, blanch the leaves, putting them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until they soften, but before they cook through. Remove the leaves from the water and set them aside.
  2. To prepare the filling, put the oil in a pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the chopped onions and carrots for a few minutes until the onions are translucent, then, add mushrooms and seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, herbs). Mix it together thoroughly and let it cook for a few minutes more, stirring frequently. Tip the contents of the pan into the cooked rice and stir it well to combine.
  3. Put 2-4 tablespoons (30-50 ml) of filling on a cabbage leaf (near, but not at, the bottom of the leaf), fold the sides over the filling, fold the bottom over the filling, and roll it up from the bottom to make an envelope. Many recipes recommend that you fry each roll on both sides. It doesn’t make a huge difference, so you can skip this step if desired.
  4. Simmer the cabbage rolls in the sauce until done.

Sauce Preparation: 

The simplest way to prepare the sauce is to take vegetable stock (Maggi cubes will also do) and mix it with water, curd, spices, and chopped fresh tomatoes or tomato paste. Pour this mixture on your cabbage rolls and bring it to a boil. The sauce should cover 2/3 of the rolls. To serve, pour the sauce over the rolls. Usually, people add sour cream when they serve this dish, but in this recipe, the amount of curd in the sauce is enough to meet the necessary level of sourness.

To prepare the non-vegetarian (read “original”) version of this dish, use a mixture of rice, minced meat of choice (7 oz (200 g)), onion, and spices. You could also add an egg to bind the mixture together.  The cooking time will be longer than it is for vegetarian rolls, but simmering for 30 minutes should suffice.

Priyatnogo appetita!

2 October 2013

Yelena Revinskaya

Russia Behind the Headlines



Sunday, 3 June 2012

VOR Presents… Asparagus… “Food of Kings”

Today, we’ll look at a “lip-smacking yummy”… asparagus. This is one of the tastiest veggies, of long-standing acquaintance and liking… we know that the ancient Greeks and Egyptians esteemed asparagus and its beneficial properties; they found it one of their favourite foods.


Asparagus was first cultivated in Greece, some 2,500 years ago; the name is Greek and means, “emerging stalk”. In ancient Rome, asparagus was also very much loved and respected as a delicacy. You can find a recipe for asparagus in the oldest cookbook in the world, De re coquinaria by the Roman gourmet Apicius.


Asparagus was the most popular vegetable of Louis XIV. In the 17th century, he ordered a special greenhouse built for growing asparagus so that he’d have it all year. Since then, asparagus has been called the “Food of Kings”.


Asparagus is one of the richest sources of natural vitamins; it contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, E, C, H, and PPWhite asparagus contains a natural element, selenite, which has a very powerful antioxidant effect that helps to prevent certain cancers.


Another unique element of the chemical composition of asparagus is aspartic acid, which plays an important role in metabolism. On top of that, asparagus is very low in calories (only 17 kcal per 100 grammes (@3.5 ounces).


Use of this vegetable can stimulate processes associated with the excretion of toxins and impurities. Asparagus can lower blood pressure and increase vitality, improve circulation, and reduce allergic reaction manifestations. Asparagus has excellent anti-inflammatory properties; it’s useful for those suffering with arthritis, rheumatism, cystitis, gout, and many other serious diseases.


There are three common types of asparagus… green, white, and purple. White asparagus is grown without access to light; therefore, its cells don’t produce chlorophyll.


The usual recommendation is to peel asparagus stalks, and to break off the lower part. However, some cooks believe that you need not peel the stalks if you choose them carefully, selecting only very young and fresh sprouts.


The simplest and most common way of cooking asparagus is to tie the stalks together and place them upright in a narrow saucepan, simmered so that the stems are inserted in boiling water, and the head is cooked by the rising steam. Usually, asparagus is served napped with hollandaise sauce.


The delicate flavour of asparagus goes well with eggs, bacon, shrimp, chicken, rabbit, and beef, you can use it as a pizza topping, or you toss it together with pasta.


Annual asparagus festivals occur in many countries.


1 June 2012

Voice of Russia World Service


Monday, 15 August 2011

15 August 2011. A Russian POV… Tomato Festival in Hyderabad on Friendship Day (7 August)

The above is the tomato fight at the Tomato Festival on Friendship Day in Hyderabad in India on Sunday 7 August 2011. The below vid is uneven in quality (it has about a 30 second intro, to begin with), but it’s the only thing that I found that illustrated this “event”:

I think that I’d fit right in (it looks like right good CLEAN fun to me)… what about you?


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