Sunday, 20 April 2014

Traditions of Ukrainian Easter Breakfast

Falling on the same day as Western Easter this year, Easter for many Ukrainians is more of a celebration than Christmas.  As well as it being the celebration of Christ rising, Easter also acts as an event to welcome in the spring and denotes the end of the solemn period of Lent that precedes it.

Breakfast is the focal meal on Easter Day which consists of a feast that would have been blessed either the day before or early on Easter morning in a special holy service.  Typically, the feast would be an elaborate continental style breakfast compiling of items such as cold meats (namely kovbasa style sausages or indeed vegetarian versions), cheeses, breads and salads which form the lion share of the table.  Emphasis is placed on hard boiled eggs which are usually eaten first and seen as a symbol of new life, depicting Christ’s re-birth. 

The main centrepiece for a Ukrainian Easter table would be Paska.  Paska is only really baked at Eastertime, is somewhat exclusively unique to the Ukraine and taste-wise, it is a cross between a cake and a sweet bread which is eaten with butter and jam.

Easter Table Display

Equally making an appearance on the feast table for many households would be fresh horseradish.  A traditional condiment which plays an integral part of Easter breakfast in the Ukraine.  Over the years I have enjoyed hearing my father’s tales of foraging for horseradish as a young boy with his friends in Western Ukraine around the village he grew up in, selling it to elders for their breakfast tables and spending his earned profits on Easter treats.  

Eaten on its own, horseradish possesses a strong, fiery taste but when mixed with other ingredients, it provides a gentler flavour without compromising its power.  An example of which is Tsvikly, which is combination of grated beetroot and fresh horseradish which is favoured as the perfect accompaniment for cheeses, eggs and meats; is a stalwart on all Ukrainian Easter breakfast tables and yet of course can be used all year round for any occasion.



(Use of fresh horseradish is traditional, although creamed horseradish sauce is a suitable alternative.  Quantity of horseradish in the recipe is indicative, more or less can be used as per personal preference).

Serves 2 – 4 people

300g Beetroot (Ready to use, vacuum-packed in natural juices)
1-2 tsps Freshly Grated Horseradish (or creamed horseradish sauce)
1 tsp Cider Vinegar
½ tsp Brown Sugar
Pinch of Salt

Place the freshly grated horseradish (or creamed horseradish sauce) into a bowl.

Add the brown sugar and salt.
Discard any beetroot juice and grate the beetroot into the horseradish mixture and mix thoroughly.
Add the cider vinegar and mix well.
Taste to ensure it is to your preference.  Increase the ingredients if required.
Serve straightaway or place into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge.

Happy Easter - or as they say in the Ukraine - Hrystos Voskres!
 Note: This article and recipe have also been published in the Ukrainian Thought newspaper, printed in London for Ukrainians and those of Ukrainian descent in the UK.

An adapted version of this article is also available on the Warwickshire Life website.  Click here for the link.


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