I am risking getting really bored of one pot dishes. I need a break from stews and curries. Yeah, I know that I need to cook the dish which is relevant to the country, and I know that this type of dish is by far and away the most cooked worldwide due to the ease of cooking, but I need to freshen up my approach to this cooking marathon. You know when you listen to a song which you absolutely love and then after a couple of weeks of playing it aggressively that you have that moment when you think “I better stop playing this for a while as I could risk then not liking it”. I’m having that right now with the dishes I have been cooking. So, for the next few weeks I am spending longer researching the options I could cook to deliberately avoid stews, casseroles and curries to keep my approach exciting (if only for me).
This week Belarus takes the stage. Embarrassingly my knowledge of Belarus is that Alexander Hleb (plays for Birmingham) is an International Footballer, and that they have some pretty heavy set women who are good at throwing the Discus. I am more knowledgeable about Ukraine as I am really intrigued by Chernobyl and that there are still some people who live in the Radioactive Zone which is effectively now a complete Ghost Town. I saw a great documentary by Stefan Gates where he went there and ate with the people from within the zone and had to have all of his food tested for radioactivity. As Ukraine and Belarus were both previously part of the Soviet Union, I can imagine great similarities and I then remembered reading about Borsht.
Borsht is a soup which is common pretty much everywhere in Eastern Europe, so I set about finding out whether there is a Borsht which is specific to Belarus. There is, and it is called Kaladnik! Result.
Kaladnik is a beetroot based borsht which is served chilled. There was no cooking involved at all, but a good deal of blending and flavouring. When I looked into the dish I saw images of a beetroot pink soup with what looked like a stone next to it. It turns out (which now makes much more sense) that the stone is actually a hot potato. This dish, therefore, is cold and served with a hot potato. What I have absolutely no idea about, is how you are supposed to introduce the potato to the soup; do you dip, dunk, let swim or pour on top of? No idea. I would appreciate any help anyone could give me.
The ingredients hinted that they were going to create something quite bland. The majority of the dish is made up of cucumber (two of them), water and yoghurt. There were some additional flavours in the beetroot, onion and a dash of dill, but nothing which I thought would give it much depth. I was right to think that, but I was thrown by the potato as it hadn’t crossed my mind that it would be deliciously refreshing. It is incredibly fresh, and the egg and the potato for me just made it a dish which was capable of filling you up. I will make this again and I will serve it to guests as a starter.
Belarus I apologise. I stereotyped your country as butch. The dish I cooked was anything but. It was delicate and cute.
Oh – and by the way, I dunked the potato and I’m not convinced that was right!
Blend the following:
2 long cucumbers
1 Green Onion
500ml Natural Yoghurt (or Kefir if you can get it)
Large Pinch Salt
Refrigerate for an hour and then chop hard boiled egg on top, add a pinch of dill and a dollop of sour cream.
It is that simple.