Ukraine’s most famous chef Yevhen Klopotenko, owner of Kyiv’s award-winning restaurant, 100 Rokiv, is well-known for reviving old recipes from before the Soviet era and for updating classic Ukrainian dishes for the modern palate. Here he shares with Kyiv Post readers a holiday menu complete with recipe links to bring some of Ukraine’s traditions to your (hopefully) festive table.

“The right to be ourselves is what we Ukrainians defend today. In the way we live, talk, think, and eat. Therefore, on the eve of Christmas, I feel a small duty — to remind everyone what real Ukrainian food is and what its modern manifestations are. I know that festive dishes can be simple, delicious, and most importantly — very Ukrainian. And I want you to see this for yourself.

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“If you are currently in another country and are far from home, arrange a real holiday for yourself to mentally unite with all Ukrainians, in every corner of the world. It will make us even stronger!"

                                                               Yevhen Klopotenko, chef, restauranteur, and public activist.

Wheat Kutya

A traditional Christmas table is simply impossible to imagine without Kutya. Although this dish is prepared only a few times a year, it is firmly embedded in our identity and is considered the main thing on the Christmas table.

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Kutya is made from a variety of cereals and whole grains: wheat, pearl barley, bulgur, rice, barley, oats, and even buckwheat. The main condition is that the cereal should be soft, but at the same time crumbly. And also — add various goodies: honey, butter, poppy seeds, walnuts, dried apricots and raisins.

I recommend experimenting and adding lemon zest and ginger to the kutia. Believe me, it's divinely delicious.

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Potato Salad with Tuna

This salad can be both a full-fledged dinner on weekdays, and decorate your festive table. It will also serve as an excellent alternative to Soviet Olivier. In addition, tuna and potato salad is not only satisfying and delicious but also very healthy. I suggest preparing it with natural homemade aioli sauce. It is a great host who combines all these ingredients into an exquisite Christmas dish.

Appetizer with Herring and Pumpkin

Ukrainians love herring. And herring with vegetables is just some kind of sacred combination. And we are not talking about the salad “Shuba” (fur coat), to which we are all so familiar. This is something much more refined.

For the holidays, I suggest treating yourself and your family to a baked soft pumpkin combined with tender lightly salted fish and yogurt sauce. Try it and you will come back to this snack again and again.

Duck with Oranges

Duck on the festive table in many countries has a special meaning. We Ukrainians are no exception. And if in the middle of the year not everyone cooks duck, then during the Christmas and New Year holidays this bird “flies” into almost every home.

Personally, I like to bake duck with oranges, or tangerines. However, you can also use quince, sweet and sour apples and any cereals, adding dried fruits to it, so at the same time with meat you will get a delicious side dish.

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Mashed Potatoes with Poppy Seeds and Beans

Everyone loves mashed potatoes. But few people know that Ukrainians have their own potato dish — this is a Ukrainian mash with poppy seeds and beans. This dish was prepared by our leaders 100 years ago.

At first glance, this combination may seem a little strange to you, but you will be amazed at how successful it is. Therefore, be sure to try to prepare for the festive table.

Bagel with Poppy Seeds and Rose Jam

I think bagels are just the perfect pastry for the holidays because they look spectacular, are easily divided into portions and have an incredible taste. In addition, baking with poppy seeds has been very characteristic of Ukrainian cuisine for many centuries. Both for the festive table and for every day. To up your Poppy bagel for the holiday I suggest adding rose jam. This is exactly how its creator, Lviv resident Leon Urbansky, prepared it, who, at one time, made this dish a cult classic.

Uzvar from Dried Fruits:

There is no need to even argue that uzvar made from dried fruits is the king of drinks on the festive table in Ukraine. Its aroma drives you crazy and makes you substitute a glass again and again. So give this recipe a try.

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