Cherries Vareniki : Russian Food

When you're a kid, the new summer really begins when the cherries are on the dinner table, served and ready to be a snack. However, then we eat so many cherries that our tongues turn red and we don't want to see them again. After growing up, we try to control ourselves to enjoy the cherry blossom season all year round. Well, the best option for processing cherries is to turn them into vareniki. This is the best way to keep cherries all winter and is an excellent reminder of hot summer days on cold winter nights.

Vareniki are Russian dumplings or ravioli, but what makes them special is that they are sweet and warm, as well as light and juicy because of the cherry filling. This dish is one of the unique main dishes because of its sweet taste.

There is always a debate as to where vareniki came from. The most common version is that all dumplings originate from China. Another version refers to this snack as a Turkish dish called dush-vara — dumplings with various fillings that are braised. The word dush-VARA was later separated and became VAreniki, according to a number of sources. However, the word “vareniki” itself means stewed in Russian. No matter where the dish comes from, vareniki is a favorite in Russia.

It's not hard to make vareniki, but you need to know a few secrets to make it, says William Pokhlyobkin — author of the most famous menus in 20th century Russia. One of the tips is very simple, but makes a big difference: When the vareniki are done, drain the water, and put the dumplings back in the pan — as the still-hot pan will help all the excess water evaporate. This simple step will allow the sour cream or syrup to stick to your vareniki, and of course make a huge difference to the taste.

The eminent writer Nikolay Gogol was very fond of this food and mentioned vareniki in one of his stories entitled The Night Before Christmas. Gogol loves mystery so in this story the vareniki come to life, swimming in sour cream before flying into the character's mouth. I think Gogol also knows the secret to dry vareniki, as he describes them as bathed in sour cream.

Now, you know the simple trick and can try making your own vareniki. I don't promise they'll fly right into your mouth, but I'm sure you'll enjoy them.

Raw material:

For dough:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter

For stuffing:

  • 500g cherries
  • 100g sugar

How to make:

Start by separating the cherry seeds. Place the cherries in a bowl and add the sugar. Stir and let stand for an hour. This process will draw moisture from the cherries to be used.

How to make the dough: Heat water with butter and set aside. Mix flour with salt, then place on a clean surface or table.

Shape the flour mixture into a crater and pour the water mixture into the center. Be careful and start kneading by hand, making sure you mix in the flour little by little until you get a smooth and elastic dough.

Then, knead the dough for about five minutes until it becomes very soft and silky smooth. Cover with aluminum foil and let sit for an hour.

After an hour has elapsed, your cherries will be releasing a lot of juice. Drain well, and set aside the juice.

After the dough has been set aside, roll it out on a table or flat surface.

It is convenient to divide the dough into two parts when grinding it. Roll out to a thickness of about three millimeters and cut the dough into circles with a round or cup cutter.

Fill the dough. Place dough circles on the palms of your hands, and add about a teaspoon of drained cherries to each dough, moisten the edges of the dough with a little water (just to keep them together) and fold them in half.

You can ensure that the filling doesn't spill by pinching the edges of the dough with the help of a fork to seal it. You can also try the traditional method, which is to fold the edges of the dough like a pastel. This technique takes a lot of practice, but once you master it, you can call yourself a real Russian craftsman.

Make sure the surface you're grinding on is floured beforehand, so that when your vareniki are done, they don't stick to each other. Now you can freeze raw vareniki or cook them right away.

To cook vareniki, prepare a pot of water. Once the water boils, add a pinch of salt and carefully add the vareniki. Stir the water gently so the vareniki don't stick to the bottom of the pan or to each other as they cook.

When the dumplings start to float, wait a minute or two and then drain the water. Place the vareniki in a hot saucepan for a few minutes to allow them to dry.

Then, remember the juice from the cherries you set aside? Heat the juice in a small saucepan and wait for it to turn into a syrup.

Make sure to drizzle a large spoonful of sour cream over the vareniki and drizzle with cherry syrup.

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