Dealing with Winter Gloom? Instant Mood-Lift Dishes from Lithuanian Kitchens

Potato Dumplings © Andrius Aleksandravičius

“The global pandemic caught the world off guard, at the same time forcing people to seek out things that represent familiarity and security,” says Lukas Pereckas, Blue Oceans P.R . “That is why some are even proclaiming that 2020 is the Renaissance of comfort food because of its ability to soothe the nerves and provide psychological comfort.”

Cooking at home is a great outlet to release pent up energy, indulge our creativity, and bring new flavors and tastes ot our meals, but after awhile experiencing with the culinary options from other countries can help tamper our hanking for travel while helping us explore the world outside our door.

The interior of Šiauliai Cathedral looking east in Šiauliai, Lithuania. Photo courtesy of DAVID ILIFF. Wikimedia Commons.

“There has never been a better time to see what other nations bring to the table as comfort food,” he says, noting that one of the least known cuisines of Eastern Europe, Lithuanian foods are just now gaining popularity as more and more travelers experience the flavors of this old world cookery. “What better way to see where your travels will take you in the future then by enjoying the tastes of Lithuanian at home.”

Seven Lithuanian Feel-Good Dishes Worth Trying

“For tourists, asking where the Lithuanian food comes from, I always say that the majority of the ingredients come from the province, yet Lithuanian culinary heritage is multicultural, as all nations that once resided in Lithuania contributed something of their own to the Lithuanian gastronomic peculiarities,” says Ieva Pikžirnytė, Lithuanian food guide, coffee and taste training expert.

Nerijus Paluckas_Zagarelia

            Lithuanian foods are also heavily influenced by other ethnic cuisines such as Jewish, Polish, Ukrainian, Tartar, Russian, and Karaite which over the centuries have been adapted with tradition Lithuanian ingredients , cooking techniques, and flavors.

 “Tourists are usually most fascinated by our hash browns and stuffed cabbage. A lot depends on the season as well. For example, in cold weather they prefer mushroom soup and potato dumplings (cepelinai),” says Pikžirnytė  who shares shares a list of Lithuanian comfort dishes most liked by by locals and visitors alike.

Potato Pie @ Beatos Virtuve

Filling Potato Pie (Kugelis)

Potatoes have ruled the Lithuanian cuisine for 150 years and most families have a favorite potato dish recipe passed down through generations.

Potato pie or pudding (kugelis), with its crispy exterior and soft consistency inside,  is an easy-to-make  favorite.

Hearty Hash Browns (Bulviniai blynai)

Restaurant Lokys. Photo courtesy of Ruchika Anand

Like the majority of Lithuanian dishes, hash browns or potato pancakes (bulviniai blynai) contain lots of carbs, fat, and salt – all essential  ingredients for satisfying our emotions and food cravings. Go ahead and indulge.It’s been a tough year. The recipe can be found here.

Famous Potato Dumplings (Cepelinai)

When it comes to potato dishes, probably the most well-known are potato dumplings (cepelinai) that are filled with a variety of ingredients, some typical such as meat or cheese and some more unique apples, herring or sauerkraut.

Fast Fried Bread@Beatos Virtuve

Fast Fried Bread with Cheese (Kepta duona su sūriu)

One of the most popular snacks in Lithuanian, fried bread quickly becomes a favorite of visitors as well. The treat goes well with a pint of beer and takes little effort to make. All you need is a loaf of rye, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, cooking oil, a pinch of salt and cheese

Cut the bread in strips, fry in oil until crispy, then rub the garlic onto the hot bread, sprinkle with salt and top with grated cheese. Voila! The perfect hot, filling, cheesy and garlicky –what could be better?

Savoury Pastry Pies (Kibinai)

Crescent-shaped pies of butter pastry stuffed with meat, mushrooms, or vegetables are one of the dishes brought to Lithuania by another nation – Karaites. Around 400 Karaite families were invited  to Lithuania by Vytautas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, from the shores of Black Sea at the end of the 14th century, and those who have made Lithuania their home, added their national dishes to the Lithuanian cuisine, hence – the savory pastry pies. The dish is best devoured in the historical capital of Lithuania – Trakai – where the variety of both savory pastry pies and restaurants serving them is astounding. This recipe is a great way to pass time while planning a trip to try a Lithuanian spin on savory pastry pies the following year.

Trakai Castle. Photo courtesy of Victor Malyushev 

Delicious Cocoa Cookie Bar (Tinginys)

A national treat, this uncooked cocoa cookie bar, called “lazy cake” by the locals since the recipe requires little effort. calls for minimal to none cooking skills. Just crush a pack of tea biscuits, melt 100 g of butter on medium heat, add a can of sweetened condensed milk and cocoa powder. Mix the ingredients, wrap the mixture in a cling film, shape it as a sausage, chill it in the fridge for several hours and voilà!

Deep-Fried Pastry Strips (Žagarėliai)

These twig-shaped and deep-fried pastry strips made with curd or sour milk provide the same type of feeling of satisfaction that we get biting into a freshly made donut. Quick and easy to make, they’re surely will lighten anyone’s mood. Even better, the recipe is easy to make.  

Familiar and comforting flavors with some unusual twists represent a side of Lithuania that is sure to be explored by foodies in years to come. Meanwhile, all eager to experience Lithuanian gastronomic peculiarities can take a look at the Map of Authentic Lithuanian Flavors and make a list for their future explorations of Lithuania.

Pažaislis Monastery, Kaunas, Lithuania.

About Lithuania Travel

Lithuania Travel is a national tourism development agency responsible for Lithuania’s tourism marketing and promotion, acting under the Ministry of Economy and Innovation. Its strategic goal—to raise awareness of Lithuania as an attractive tourism destination and to encourage inbound and domestic travel. The agency closely collaborates with tourism businesses and organizations, presents Lithuanian tourism products, services and experiences on social and digital media, press trips, in international travel exhibitions and B2B events.

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Media contact

Greta Skridailaitė