The Balkans are a fascinating place for a tourist. The location has amazing nature and diverse culture that gathers influences from such distinctive Westers and Eastern Europe. Lithuania food, in particular, is an exciting blend every tourist has to indulge in.
Lithuanian cuisine may not be the most popular in the world, even within Europe, but it is a hidden treasure of comfort food and hearty meals that warm you up from the within! As you come to the country for the first time, you are probably unfamiliar with all the food choices. Thus, I recommended following this list of must-try traditional dishes to get a taste of it.
Unless you grew up somewhere around the Balkans and Eastern Europe (or you’ve visited several of these countries), you’ll find Lithuanian food rather untypical for your tastes. Depending on your home country, you may taste a variety of new herbs, spices, and ingredient combinations. But no worry – traditional Lithuanian food is delicious. And it is fulfilling.
The cuisine is mostly based on traditional meats such as beef, pork, chicken, duck, etc. Its main side dish is potato, though the other standard options are available. Also, like in many surrounding countries, the most popular “kind of sauce” served with dishes is sour cream.
Now that you know the basics of what to expect, I will introduce you to the most famous dishes of Lithuanian cuisine.
These cabbage rolls are also known as little pigeons. Isn’t it cute? This is a traditional dish for many Eastern European countries, as well as Germany and Israel. They were initially brought to the country by Tatars.
The dish consists of cooked rice mixed with ground beef and onion. It is wrapped in boiled cabbage leaves and simmered in tomato sauce.
When served, sour cream is always added.
You may also know this dish as holubky, sarma, tolma, bragioli, rōru kyabetsu, etc.
Stuffed dumplings are everywhere! They just come under various names and slightly differ in stuffings and preparation methods.
Lithuania has its own traditional kind of dumplings as well – koldunai. These dumplings are filled with all sorts of minced meats and mushrooms. Sometimes, you’ll find cheese inside.
They are mostly served with black pepper, sour cream, and mayonnaise.
They look sort of like the koldunai dumplings but are actually pastries! This Crimea-originating dish can also be filled with meat assortments.
The dough is fluffy and buttery with the added sour cream (seems to be everywhere in Eastern Europe, right?). It is baked in the oven instead of boiled like koldunai.
I find the remarkable resemblance to empanadas!
These will be usually served alongside cooked meats but can be enjoyed on their own, just as French Fries.
Visually, they are a mystery on what’s hidden inside. You can only guess what’s inside this deep-fried goodness. The answer is simple – the creamiest mashed potatoes!
This is a popular side dish in Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria, and certain countries worldwide.
Bulviniai are made of grated potato fried in the form of small pancakes. They are formed and help together with the help of eggs and flour. And then, simply baked, not deep-fried.
This dish is somewhat similar to hashbrowns, depending on the recipe you use. Like their American siblings, bulviniai blynai can also be regular breakfast food, but are not as “strict” about their role. You’ll find many Lithuanian people eating them for dinner and supper just as much.
Have you ever tried kissel? This is the beverage for the few. Not everybody likes it, even in the Eastern European countries when it is a traditional beverage. If you try a kissel as a grown-up for the first time, you’ll have to get used to the taste for a bit.
Cranberry pap is somewhere between cranberry juice and kissel. Depending on the amount of added starch, you may get a warm cranberry drink or a full-blown dessert.
Beetroot Soup (Burokėlių Sriuba)
Beetroot soups are a distinct feature of many Eastern European cuisines. Unlike the famous Ukrainian Borsch, the Lithuanian beetroot soup is served cold. It is known as Saltibarsciai. This is the perfect first course on hot summer days. Interestingly, it is translated as “cold borsh” as well.
In Lithuania, this is arguably the prettiest dish made! This soup is pink and creamy! It is usually served with baked or fried potato slices for dipping.
At first, this cold variation may taste strange, but you quickly get used to the refreshing meal!
Finally, the time for Lithuanian desserts has come. One of the most interesting sweets of the Lithuanian cuisine that I’ve tried is Grybukai. Not only in taste and in appearance alike!
These cookies are translated as “mushrooms,” and they really look like miniature shrooms! Usually, they are decorated to form a white stalk and black/brown cap (depending on the type of chocolates glaze used.) Such coloration is the traditional type. However, I’ve seen much prettier even – painted in the colors of a fly agaric! This is the highest level of cuteness a biscuit can have.
So, this is basically the traditional selection of Lithuanian food that gives a proper representation of the cuisine overall. Would you like to add some of your favorite Lithuanian dishes to the list? Leave them in the comment section.