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Nalysnyky (singular: nalysnyk), the proverbial pancake, is a dish of the traditional Ukrainian cuisine which has been cooked in Ukraine for hundreds of years, and which, particularly in the countryside, continues to be widely cooked and enjoyed.
The simplicity of making nalysnyky, their taste and nourishing potential are the major contributors to its success story. Nalysnyky can be eaten with sour cream or caviar, they can be stuffed with cottage cheese, chopped boiled eggs, mixed green onions, stewed cabbage, minced meat, mashed beans, mushrooms, fruit and berries, raisins, jam, or whatever else which your fancy may be suggested for stuffing them with.
Nalysnyky, in their various forms, are made by people in many countries of the world; the principle of making them remains similar, though different flour and stuffing are used. And, of course, the name for them will differ from people to people, from language to language, from country to country.
There are regional differences in Ukraine as well — in some parts of Ukraine, the word “mlynets” will be in use rather than “nalysnyk” if each pancake is eaten as it is, without being stuffed with anything, with nalysnyky being reserved only for stuffed pancakes.
Pancakes in their various forms began to be made in times immemorial. In addition to being food, pancakes came to be cooked on special occasions — for, example, on Masnytsya in Ukraine. Masnytsya (a sort of Mardi Gras, Ukrainian style), which has survived from the pre-Christian times is the feast of saying goodbye to winter and welcoming spring. In all likelihood the round yellow-brown pancake symbolized the Sun. On Masnytsya, nalysnyky are stuffed predominantly with cottage cheese.
Nalysnyky can be rolled up to make “a pancake scroll” filled with the stuffing, with open ends, or they can be folded into a sort of an envelope; after being stuffed, they can be sautÈed a little, or stewed in sour cream, or in chopped onions with little pieces of hard pork fat, or…The list is too long — we offer just a few recipes popular in Ukraine.
The butter for nalysnyky should be almost liquid; the skillet should be flat, pre-heated and greased with cooking oil or with hard pork fat; after each pancake is fried, the surface of the frying pan should be lightly greased (a piece of potato serves well for greasing the skillet — you dip the flat part of the potato piece in the cooking oil and then smear with it the skillets surface; some modern griddles do not need greasing); a ladle is a good tool for pouring the dough onto the griddle — let it pour gently; usually, the first pancake does not come out right — don’t get upset and keep on trying!
Nalysnyky with cottage cheese
•Wheat flour — 200 grams
•Milk — 200 grams
•Eggs — 3
•Sugar — 2 table spoonfuls
•Butter — 50 grams
•Cottage cheese — 300 grams
•Sour cream — 150 grams
•Cooking oil (or a piece of hard pork fat for smearing the frying pan with), water, salt
Separate the yolk and the white of two eggs, add sugar and salt to the yolks, mix well; add some milk and water; whisk the whites and add to the mixture, stir well. Add the flour carefully by small portions, mixing and stirring the ingredients all the time. Make sure there are no lumps. Add the rest of the milk and water, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency which should be runny.
Grade the cheese or break it thoroughly with a fork, add the contents of an egg, add a bit of salt, mix well.
Grease the pre-heated frying pan and pour in a portion of the butter using a ladle — tilt the skillet this and that way to make sure that the butter covers the surface of the skillet evenly. After two or three minutes, the pancake is ready to be turned to the other side which will take less time to brown.
Place the pancakes as you make them one on top of the other to keep them warm.
After all the pancakes have been made, put a bit of the cottage cheese on each pancake, spread it evenly, and roll the pancake up (or fold it like an envelope). Place the nalysnyky on a greased baking sheet and keep them in the hot oven for some time. Serve hot with sour cream to be poured over them.
Instead of placing nalysnyky on the baking sheet, you can put them, layer upon layer, into a sauce pan, the bottom of which has been greased with butter; pour sour cream on top and keep in the oven until the sour cream gets thick.
Nalysnyky stuffed with stewed cabbage, Chernihiv style
•Cabbage — 300 grams
•Mushrooms — 50 grams of dried mushrooms (or two or three times more if you have fresh mushrooms)
•Onion — 1 bulb
•Cooking oil, salt, pepper
Prepare the pancake butter and make pancakes as described in the previous recipe (some potato starch can be added).
Stew the chopped cabbage (you can use a 50/50 mixture of fresh cabbage and sauerkraut) until no water is left; saute the chopped onion and chopped mushrooms (dried mushrooms should be kept in water for some time before being boiled), then add to the cabbage, saute the mixture for some time, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff the nalysnyky with the mixture as described in the previous recipe.
Place the stuffed nalysnyky on the baking sheet, sprinkle with oil and keep for some time in the oven.
Nalysnyky with berries
Prepare the pancake butter as described in the first recipe and make pancakes. Put available berries on each pancake, roll it up, or fold like an envelope, and then place the nalysnyky into a sauce pan or a baking sheet, place on top small pieces of butter and then keep in the oven for some time.
Serve with sour cream or with thick cream.
Nalysnyky with mushrooms
•Mushrooms — 500 grams
•Onions — 2 bulbs
•Breadcrumbs, salt, pepper
Prepare the pancake butter. Make pancakes as described in the first recipe.
Wash and then boil the mushrooms; dice them, mix thoroughly with the chopped onions and saute in oil until the onions become light brown. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, salt, pepper to taste, and stir well.
Blend a cup of oil into the batter, stir well and fry pancakes on a preheated frying pan that is greased by the hard pork fat after each pancake is fried.
Put the mushrooms onto each pancake, roll it up and coat the rolled-up pancake in breadcrumbs. Fry a little and serve while hot. The mushroom stock can be used for making a sauce.
Photos and recipes in this article
are from the book
Ukrainian Traditional Cuisine
published by Baltia-Druk