Guide to a Polish Meal

The diversity of Polish cuisine is apparent from the sheer number of choices of dishes that are available in each and every course of a meal.

This diversity is not only skindeep; it is also highly nutritious. Almost every Polish dish is made combining something from all the four basic food groups; proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins.

The First Course

To start with, the first course or the appetizer, you will be taken aback by the variety of soups that are on offer. You have the simpler ones like Zupa ogorkowa or hot cucumber soup, Kapuniak or sour cabbage soup or Krupnik or barley soup with a dash of vegetables and smoked meat.

Their slightly more elaborate counterparts are Chodnik litewski, which is a yogurt and beetroot soup, served cold with cooked egg. This is originally a Lithuaninan dish, which has found favor among the Poles. Then there is the Urek, which is a sour-tasting rye soup made with potatoes, sausage or egg and sometimes had with loaf.

The Barszcz variety of soups comes in various forms. The Barsczc bia'y is a thick sour wheat and potato starch soup sometimes had with cream, while the Barsczc czerwony is a is a clear red soup made from beetroot, garlic and mushroom and had with dumplings or a hard-boiled egg.

Amongst the most popular soup varieties are Grochowka, which is a yellow split pea soup containing potatoes, carrots & sausages and the Flaki, which is prepared from pork and spiced up with liberal sprinklings of pepper and ginger.

The Main Polish Course

The Poles are heavily onto meat and nowhere is their likings more evident than in the main course. Here you have the most amazing array of non-vegetarian dishes. However, the vegans need not fret for the Polish cuisine also offers vegetable dishes too.

Amidst the meaty dishes, there is Baranina, a favorite with the mountain folks. It is a very simple dish of grilled or roasted lamb, which makes for a hassle-free preparation. Fasolka po bretonsku, which is a bean and sausage stew, Zrazy zawijane, which is rolled fillets of hashed veal in a spicy sauce and Eberka w miodzie or honeyed pork ribs are some more easy to whip up Polish dishes.

Some traditional Polish meat dishes are Bigos, an appetizing stew with various kinds of meats and sausages; Kotlet schabowy, a form of pork cutlet and Pierogi, which is a dumpling filled with meat, cheese, mushrooms or strawberries.

The Poles have imbibed a lot of foreign food cultures. This foreign influence can be seen in some Polish meat preparations namely, Go'bki, which was originally a Lithuanian dish of stuffed cabbage. A Bavarian dish Go'onka w piwie, which is pork knuckle, sometimes dipped in beer sauce, and served with horseradish. Kurczak de volaille, which is a French dish where chicken steaks are filled with mushrooms, and topped with butter and breadcrumbs.

The green brigade can take their pick from Grzby, which are mushroom preparation served in a variety of ways, like stewed in sour cream or fried in butter or even seasoned with vinegar; Kasza gryczana or a buckwheat preparation and Placki kartoflane or potato pancakes. Polish salads are usually prepared with cooked beets, as in Cwilka. Horseradish is a popular accompaniment of most Polish dishes.

Ending on a Sweet Note

For those with a sweet tooth, Poland won't disappoint you. Here you will get motley of desserts ranging from cakes, doughnuts, cookies, rolls and breads.

Sernik is a type of raisin-covered and orange flavored cheesecake, while Babka is a raisin-covered, sugary cake, which has a fan following even in the United States. Makowiec or Strucla Z Makiem is a traditional Christmas fare, which is a crunchy sugar frosted cake filled with poppy seeds, nuts and raisins.

Among the more exotic kinds of desserts are Paczki, which are ball-shaped doughnuts, flavored with rose petal jam. It is a festive delicacy in Poland, popularly eaten during the festival of Mardi Gras.

Amongst the rolls are the ones made with nuts, poppy seeds, apricots and prunes, which are very popular and lip-smacking, to say the least. Chrusciki are bow-tie cookies sprinkled with powdered sugar and are light and flaky.

Polish Food  |  Regional Variations in Polish Food  |  Guide to a Polish Meal