There are dishes for festive and daily occasions, and some for enjoyable weekends – when there is no need to go anywhere, and all family is engaged in cooking. For our Bulgarian-Ukrainian family, the most frequent choices for this season are Lyutenitsa, a typical tomato sauce of Bulgarian cuisine, and Deruny, traditional potato pancakes in Ukrainian cuisine.

Ukrainian cuisine & Bulgarian cuisine: a perfect mix of vegetables

ukrainian cuisine bulgarian cuisine cultural insights 6 3

In their familiar forms, both dishes (summer highlights of Ukrainian cuisine and Bulgarian cuisine:) date back to the 30s years of the 20th century. At that time, Bulgaria was experiencing an economic crisis and an intensive production of tomatoes and red peppers for the canning industry – both for domestic consumption and export – was one of efficient and successful solutions.

For Ukraine, 1932-33 marked a devastating famine – the consequence of the forced collectivization in the Soviet Union; and potatoes were the only available choice for many people.

Thanks to their simplicity, both dishes have become some of the most representative features of Bulgarian and Ukrainian cuisine that can be present at the table during holidays and workdays. And they complement each other perfectly due to the seasonal vegetables that perfectly complement each other: tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.

Deruny, potato pancakes

ukrainian and bulgarian cuisine

The name derives from the way of cooking: the verb ‘derty’ means ‘to strip’ or ‘to skin’. The dish is so popular in the north of Ukraine that it inspired an International Deruny Festival held annually in Korosten.
7 large potatoes
2 onions
1 egg
1/4 cup (30 g) flour
Sunflower oil
Salt and pepper

Deruny Preparation

1 Peel potatoes and grate them on a fine grater. Remove most of the potato juice.
2 Finely chop the onion, add it to the potatoes and mix the vegetables.
The onion juice will keep the potatoes from going brown.
3 Add flour, egg, salt and black pepper and mix well.
4 Pour some sunflower oil into a frying pan and heat well.
5 Using a spoon, form small, flat rounds of potato mixture and fry them like pancakes from both sides.
Serve deruny while hot with lutenitsa or sour cream.

Lyutenitsa, tomato-pepper sauce

ukrainian cuisine bulgarian cuisine cultural insights 3

Bulgarian lyutenitsa is a simple but incredibly delicious, mouth-watering vegetable paste. It was the natural substitute for fresh tomatoes and peppers in winter, particularly in earlier times.

1kg red peppers
1 kg tomatoes
400 gr aubergine
2 carrots
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
30 ml oil
1 bunch of fresh parsley
Salt, sugar, black pepper

Lyutenitsa Preparation

1 Bake, peel and remove the seeds and stems from the peppers and aubergines
2 Boil the carrots.
3 Grate the tomatoes and remove the skin. Put the sauce in a big pot to boil until the paste structure starts to dense. Stir constantly.
4 Grind the peppers, the boiled carrots and the aubergines and add them to the tomatoes. Stir constantly at low heat.
5 Sauté the onion and the garlic in the oil and remove them before adding the oil to the mixture.
6 Add the parsley, salt, sugar and black pepper.

Find more ‘Cultural Insights’ in the sections People and Places of this blog.