10 Traditional Polish Foods You Should Try

10 Traditional Polish Foods You Should Try

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Last updated:
30.07.2020

Tasting local specialties is an inseparable part of traveling and Poland is no exception! Influenced by neighboring European countries such as Lithuania, Belarus, Hungary, Ukraine, Germany, Russia, and even Italy, Polish cuisine is simple, yet unique, rich, and delicious.

Once you try it, you won’t stop until you’ve tried all the hearty dishes we’re going to tell you about here. Conveniently, all of them you can find in almost any Polish restaurant or Polish equivalent to the cafeteria - milk bar. Enjoy your meal! Or how they say it in Poland, smacznego!

1. Pierogi

Undoubtedly, pierogi is probably the most popular food in Poland. These thinly rolled-out dumplings are often filled with various stuffing, from meat, sauerkraut, mushroom, and potato to conserve and even chocolate. The ones with potato actually called kopytka (because of a shape similar to little hooves) and served in Kopytko - Jadalnia & Pijalnia and in Kameralna restaurants in Warsaw.

Pierogi are very nourishing and thus quite a versatile dish: Polish dumplings are great as a snack, main course, or dessert. What is more, you can enjoy them either boiled, baked, or fried almost everywhere in Poland. But Poles prefer them boiled with butter and onions.

Pierogi

Must-visit sights in Poland:

  • Wieliczka Salt Mine;
  • Old Town of Warsaw;
  • Museum of Posters;
  • Streets of Gdansk;
  • Torun's Old Quarter;
  • Tatra Mountains.

2. Gołąbki

If pierogi don’t make you raise your eyebrows, gołąbki may do. This traditional Polish food is a carriage roll made of minced pork seasoned with garlic, onion, mushrooms, and spices. During cooking, gołąbki are fried, steamed, or simmered in fat.

However this may seem unusual, but sappy carriage leaves perfectly go together with different meat such as poultry and mutton, as well as with other vegetables. Interestingly, gołąbki are common to the cuisines not only of the Central, Eastern, Southeastern, and Northern Europe, but also of Western Asia, Northern China, and even some parts of North Africa.

Golabki

3. Placki ziemniaczane

Did you know that the world of pancakes is a little bigger? Placki ziemniaczane are pancakes made of...potato! The process of cooking them may differ throughout the country but the base stays the same: potatoes, grated onions, eggs, and flour.

Being very similar to Jewish latkes, placki are absolutely delicious on their own. But their ultimate taste is revealed with goulash (placki po Węgiersku), applesauce, or sour cream. Thanks to high calorific capacity the feeling of fullness will not leave you all day!

Placki ziemniaczane

4. Gulasz

The Goulash dish is well-known in many Central European countries. Pretty much all of them have their own versions of the Goulash dish and Poland isn’t an exception. Similar to Hungarian cuisine, here it became a traditional food, took the name of Gulasz and is usually made of tender pieces of beef and a broth of carrots, mushrooms, bell pepper, paprika, and onions.

As mentioned above, the gulasz is traditionally served with potato pancakes, and sometimes with buckwheat kasha (toasted groats) and home-made pickles.

Gulasz

5. Zurek

This unique and simple soup is eaten mainly during Easter. It is the Polish equivalent of ryemeal soup, which is popular among West Slavic countries.

Made of fermented rye, sausages, garlic, bacon, or ham, this creamy Polish soup has a rich aromatic taste you won’t forget. And occasionally added egg makes the dish even more delicious.

Zurek

6. Flaki

Poland has a dish for every occasion. For example, delightful flaki or flaczki (referring to the main ingredient - beef tripe strips) is a classical representative of a Polish wedding course. At the festivity, this dense tripe soup is a part of the hot courses. Try sampling it with a loaf of fresh bread to add some refinement to the taste.

The dish is very rich not only in taste but also in history, which is known since the 14th century. Flaki was among King Wladyslaw Jagiello’s favorite dishes. As of today, flaki has a variety of recipes. Some people like to add smoked bacon as well as ginger, pepper, or nutmeg. The one particular recipe especially stands out: add meatballs to the soup and the dish is then known as flaki po warszawsku (Warsaw-style flaki).

Flaki

7. Kisiel

Sweet kisiel is very simple to make and is very delicious to drink. It is basically sweetened fruit puree and thickened starch, though sometimes grain crops are used instead. The unusual thickness of the drink may be confusing, but the taste will most certainly surprise you.

The most fantastic thing about kisiel that it is very diverse: it can be made of different berries like strawberry or blackberry, coffee, chocolate, almond, and even vanilla.

Kisiel

8. Sernik

It is time to present to you some Polish sweets! Sernik is a polish cheesecake, which owes its origin to old Christian and Jewish traditions. The ingredients are sugar, eggs, and twaróg - a Polish type of curd cheese that has been used for centuries. There are also hypotheses that sernik was introduced in the 17th century by King Jan III Sobieski. They claim that he brought the recipe from Austria after his victory in the Battle of Vienna.

You can find different varieties of sernik, including baked and unbaked. But the base is usually a crisp cake. The cheese mass is placed on a baked crust and the top is sometimes covered (before baking) with grated shortcrust dough. After baking, sernik is sometimes decorated with icing, chocolate glaze, or fruits.

Sernik

9. Paczki

This type of Polish donuts is a traditional dessert that you can find in a Polish store. Delicious Paczki are round soft yeast buns with various fillings, from twaróg, rose or strawberry preserves, to liquor and chocolate. Fried to a dark golden color on a deep oil, they are served with powdered sugar, iced, or with chocolate on top.

Paczki are actually connected with a strong Polish tradition called ‘Fat Thursday’. On the last Thursday of the carnival, people eat paczki like nobody’s watching consuming every year 100 million paczki. The legend says if anyone doesn’t eat a single paczek, misfortune will haunt them all year long. That’s all because in the past, a baker could hide an almond or a nut in some of paczki. And the one who found it was going to be lucky for a lifetime.

Paczki

10. Babka wielkanocna

Another Eastern delicacy in Poland is Baba or babka wielkanocna (which means ‘grandmother’). This simple round cake finds its origin in the Jewish community in Poland of the early 19th century. According to traditions, it is made of bakery or brewing yeast diluted with warm milk and mixed with flour, sugar, and a pinch of salt. When the dough rises, eggs, flour, and various dried fruits are added. Nowadays after baking, they were covered with white or pink frosting or with rose or orange water.

There are several kinds of babka wielkanocna, including American, Israeli, and Kokosh versions. They mainly differ in shape, but Israeli-style babka also is made with laminated dough and available with a wider array of fillings from chocolate to cheese.

Babka wielkanocna

As you have noticed, Poland is rich not only in history or natural landscapes but also in food! These fragrant delicacies can be found throughout the whole country while on your Poland vacation. All ten dishes are definitely an experience worth appearing on your Poland must-taste list. Satisfying prices perfectly complement satisfying food presenting one more reason for you to make familiar with Polish cuisine legacy.

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