Main pages

Russia Travel Guide

Private guides in Moscow

Main dishes

Pelmeni - Russian dumplings

Vareniki - non-meat dumplings

Kholodets - meat jelly

Syrniki - curd pancake

Blini - Russian flapjacks

Golubtsy - cabbage rolls

National food

Buckwheat as side dish

Black rye bread

Sour cabbage (or sauerkraut)

Natonal soups

Borscht - famous red soup

Shchi - cabbage soup

Okroshka - soup with kvass

Solyanka - salted soup


Zefir - light dessert

Varenie - main Russian dessert


Kvass - Russian drink #1

Kefir - sour milk drink

Mors - berry drink

Kissel - dense drink

Kompot - fruit or berry


McDonalds in Russia

Vareniki – Russian dumplings with curd,
vegetable or berry filling


1 Introduction

2 Ingredients, cooking technology and difference with pelmeni

3 Where and how to taste vareniki in Russia

4 How to bring vareniki home from Russia

5 Vareniki – is it Russian and Ukrainian dish?

6 Vareniki in Russian culture


All the pages of our website are created by Russian journalists. We work hard to provide you with a most valuable and actual information. The English language is not native to us, and we misspell sometimes. If you catch sight of a mistake, then please will not throw tomatoes at us, and leave the comment with the description of the mistake. A comment may be left at the end of every page.

Vareniki are very similar to pelmeni. In Russia pelmeni are made of dough with meat, fish or mushrooms and vareniki are made of other types of filling. Such division is not correct according classical recipes of these dishes in Russian and Ukrainian cuisines. We will tell about tradition and about modern status.

Vareniki were a food for holidays in the old times in Russia. The usual filling was made of a curd and it was expensive. Most of Russians could eat them only a few times in a year.

Vareniki in old Russia and the modern types are different. Now all vareniki that you may find in a supermarket are made of wheat flour, but in the old times they were made of rye and other sorts of flour. The situation with bread was the same; most of bread was eaten in old Russia was made of rye, now we call it “black rye bread”.

Ingredients, cooking technology and difference with pelmeni

The cooking technology is very close to pelmeni. Vareniki are the small pies made of dough with a filling. The dough for pelmeni may be only unleavened; the dough for vareniki may be leavened and based on kefir, sour milk or yeasts. Here is the first difference between these two dishes.

The dough is made from flour, eggs, water and salt. After, you should roll the dough and cut it to small round plates.

Before preparing the dough you had to prepare the stuffing. There are three most popular fillings for vareniki in Russia – curd, potato and cherry.

But, the variety of fillings could be limited only by our imagination. Even in a supermarket you may find vareniki with strawberry, cabbage, cheese, apples and different mixes.

After closing the dough around the filling you, need to boil these dumplings. The word “vareniki” may be translated into English as “boiled”. The boiling is the only way of cooking this dish, and frying or steaming are not used.

In you ask Russians about vareniki with the filling made of meat, then most of us will say this type doesn't exist. But, such vareniki are common in Ukraine, and this dish is different from pelmeni.

When cooking pelmeni with meat, the filling consists of a raw mincemeat and it becomes eatable during boiling. When preparing vareniki with meat, the meat should be boiled first. Only after boiling it should be used as a filling. In a result the tastes are different.

Boiling vareniki is a simple process, but you should watch for the time. The problem is these pies may break if to boil it for a long time. Usually, it takes 4-5 minutes and no more. If you are interested in this process, then see the photos below.

Some cooks say there is a difference in shape and size between vareniki and pelmeni. They declare vareniki should have a half moon shape and larger size, but pelmeni have a round shape and lower size. To tell the truth, if this difference existed some time ago, now it is forgotten.

There is an opinion vareniki had an enormous size of 12-16 inches (30-40 centimeters) in the old times. This opinion based on novel "Viy" by Nikolai Gogol. In this story there is a phrase: “You could eat vareniki with the size of a hat”.

This opinion is wrong. If you read all this story, then you will find the full version of this phrase, “In the villages you could eat curd, sour cream or vareniki with a size of a hat without paying a coin”.

As you see, Nikolai Gogol specially uses this large size as an exaggeration to show one of the characters could eat a lot of food without paying any money. Unfortunately, many of internet writers didn't read the entire novel, and this delusion is widespread on the internet.

Just imagine the width of a pot you need to boil vareniki with a size of 16 inches (40 centimeters). It is ridiculous. The normal size for vareniki is 2-3 inches (5-7 centimeters).

Where and how to taste vareniki in Russia

The easiest way is to visit a restaurant. Unfortunately, this dish is not so popular and not every restaurant may offer it. The bad news – the national fast-foods in Russia also usually don't have vareniki in the menu.

There is a good decision if you want to taste the dish. You may visit one of the Ukrainian restaurants of network “Taras Bulba”. There are 10 such places in Moscow. There you will surely find vareniki. Or you can create an online order with delivery to your hotel at their website.

If you have access to a kitchen, then you may easily purchase the pack of vareniki in a supermarket and boil it by yourself. There are many sorts. Just click the photos of our gallery below.

In the first photo in the gallery above you, may see vareniki of one of the most interesting trademark. It is called "Bratia Vareniki" translates as "Vareniki brothers". The taste is good and the quality is excellent, we advise this brand first of all.

How to bring vareniki home from Russia

It is almost impossible. Same as pelmeni, vareniki should be frozen. If they will defrost, then they will stick to each other and it will be impossible to separate them. The only way is to use a refrigerator bag. But you need to think; is it worth it?

Vareniki – is it Russian and Ukrainian dish?

Ukrainians consider vareniki is their national dish, but not Russian. In fact, this dish may be found in both Ukranian and Russian cuisines. Long time ago we all belonged to one solid nation. The separation of this nation for Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians has happened not long ago – something like 500 years ago. It is not amazing many dishes may be found in both cuisines. For example – borscht, syrniki or varenye.

In Ukranian cities, there are three or more monuments dedicated to vareniki. Ukrainians love this dish and consider it as an important part of their culture. In the famous novel of Nikolai Gogol “Evenings at the farm near Dikanka”, the brightest character called Pasyk was a sorcerer and ate vareniki without using hands. Watch the picture on the left.

In Ukraine there is a main cooking contest and the trophy for the best cook is the golden varenik. It is not the name, the trophy is really made of gold.

As a proof of the fact vareniki is a part of Russian cuisine, we may remember the first dictionary created in Russia in the 18th century by the Moscow academy of science. In this dictionary there is an article about this dish in which it is called as Russian dish.

Vareniki in Russian culture

In Russia you may find special "vareniki with surprise". Usually we cook it for the New Year. There are two types of this fun dish.

The first type, when serving vareniki, some of the pies contain an unusual filling. For example, you are cooking vareniki with cherry, but you are filling some of them with hot peppers, sour cabbage or onion. It is believed, that the person who gets this varenik will be happy in the next year.

The second type, when the filling of some pies contains coin or some other objects. It is believed the person who gets the coin will be rich in the next year. We don't recommend to follow this tradition. The person who gets varenik with the coin inside will be poor in the next year with better chances, because he/she will pay for new teeth to stomatologist.

There is an interesting reference of vareniki in Russian culture. Most of Russians remember the nursery rhymes.

"Eniki Beniki was ate vareniki".

It is a large Russian mystery! Nobody knows exactly who are or what is Eniki Beniki. There are a lot of theories about it, but all of these theories have no proofs.

Some say Eniki Beniki are the digits “One, Two” but it is not clear what language is used. Some say these are Jewish names and this theory is most believable. There are some exotic ideas, for example, this nursery rhyme is a former mantra.

We wish you to taste delicious vareniki in Russia and read other articles about our country (watch for links above and at the left from text of this article)

See other interesting articles

Do you have any questions?

Did you find a mistake?

Do you want to say something?

Please, write a comment!

Your name

Your comment

Copyright © 2014-2015