Podlaskie has for ages been a melting pot for many different nations and cultures. This unique mix is reflected in the cuisine of the region, which features a one-of-its-kind mosaic of flavours, aromas and sensations. What are the typical dishes that you should try when in the region?
Simplicity and sophistication
The northern reaches of Podlaskie feature influences of Lithuanian cuisine, while in the southern part of the region it is common to be served typical Belarusian dishes. Both the Lithuanian and Belarusian cuisines have one thing in common – potatoes.
When in the Suwałki District be sure to try the filling kartacze. Known as zeppelins in Lithuania, they are so named because their shape resembles that of a Zeppelin airship. Kartacze are potato dumplings, quite big in size and stuffed with meat.
A typical Belarusian delicacy is the potato pie. The perfect one should be crispy on the outside and velvety inside. There are even world championships in potato pie cooking, which are held every year in Supraśl.
Potato pie has a “sibling”. It is the potato sausage. The stuffing is made from the same ingredients and then put into cleansed pork intestines.
When in the vicinity of Drohiczyn do not miss the zaguby – traditional pastry from the Bug region, made from dumpling dough and filled with raw potatoes.
In the Białowieża Forest region you might try hałuszki. These are simple potato dumplings, either baked or deep-fried, and served with meat (in the savoury version) or with cream (in the sweet version).
The Podlaskie cuisine is made of culinary traditions of various cultures and nations. The eastern part of the region, near the border with Belarus, is the place to try Tatar dishes. When visiting the villages of Bohoniki or Kruszyniany, which feature thriving communities of Polish Tatars, taste the delicacies of their cuisine and try pierekaczewnik, manty or czebureki.
Travelling to the west of the region, drop by Tykocin to savour the Jewish cuisine. Indulge in the taste of a true czulent, tzimmes or kugel.
In the kingdom of fish
The crystal clear waters of the Augustów Lakeland are home to several dozens of fish species. Make sure to try the smelt, also known as the “local fast food”. The smelt season opens up in late winter and early spring, when the lakes are still covered with ice.
The regional cuisine features also the noble vendace and whitefish, which live only in deep, well oxygenated waters. When in Suwałki, be sure to taste fish smoked in a traditional way and seasoned only with salt.
Cheeses from Podlaskie milk
Podlaskie is the leading Polish region in milk production and dairy processing, as the density of milk cows in Podlaskie is higher than anywhere else in Poland. Local, unpasteurised cow milk is the basic ingredient of the Korycin cheese – the symbol of the region.
It might be delicate or more sour, natural or with herbs and spices. Whatever the variation, Korycin cheese is always a bit moist and elastic. Its characteristic oval shape and corrugated texture are created by strainers it is made on.
The Korycin cheese is being produced solely in the municipalities of Korycin, Suchowola and Janów, but it is easy to find it anywhere in Podlaskie.
It is no surprise, that the sweets from Podlaskie are becoming more and more popular in Poland. The anthill cake is a treat of Lithuanian origin. It is made of crispy layers and shaped into a form that resembles an anthill, hence the name. The cake is very sweet and crusty, glazed with honey and sprinkled with raisins and poppy seeds.
Traditionally baked over a fire, the tree cake features spikes, which look like branches of a tree. Legend has it, that Queen Bona, delighted by the taste of the tree cake, had it specially prepared for her son’s wedding. Today it is difficult to imagine a wedding in Podlaskie without one.
When in the Białowieża Forest region, be sure to try the marcinek. It is a traditional Podlaskie cake, made from 30 thin-rolled layers with cream filling. Simply delicious!