If you want to try traditional Polish cuisine, please stop counting your calories. Typical meals are very hearty and often contain a lot of meat. Just sampling them is enough to discover that they are really delicious and worth putting on a few ounces.
The most typical ingredients used in Polish cuisine are sauerkraut, beetroot, cucumbers (gherkins), sour cream, kohlrabi, mushrooms, sausages and smoked sausage. A meal owes it taste to the herbs and spices used, such as marjoram, dill, caraway seeds, parsley, or pepper.
Polish cuisine has evolved over the centuries to become very eclectic due to Poland's history. It shares many similarities with other West Slavic/European countries like Czech and Slovak. It has also been widely influenced by other Central European cuisines, like German, Austrian and Hungarian, as well as Jewish, French, Turkish and Italian culinary traditions. It is rich in meat, especially pork, chicken and beef (depending on the region), winter vegetables, spices, and herbs. Same it is also characteristic in it’s use of various kinds of noodles.
Generally speaking, Polish cuisine is hearty and heavy in its use of butter, cream and eggs. The traditional dishes are often demanding in preparation. Many Poles allow themselves a generous amount of time to serve and enjoy their festive meals, especially Christmas Eve Dinner (Wigilia) or Easter breakfast which could take a number of days to prepare in their entirety.
The Polish national and the most popular dishes:
- bigos (sauerkraut and meat stew)
- pierogi (Polish dumplings)
- kiełbasa (Polish sausage)
- kotlet schabowy (pork cutlet)
- gołąbki (stuffed cabbage rolls)
- zrazy (beef roulade)
- pieczeń wołowa (beef roast)
- zupa ogórkowa (cucumber soup)
- zupa grzybowa (mushroom soup)
- zupa pomidorowa (tomato soup)
- rosół (chicken noodle soup)
- żurek (sour rye soup)
- flaki (tripe soup)
- barszcz czerwony (red borscht)
Poland has a number of unique regional cuisines with regional differences in preparations and ingredients. For an extensive list of the dishes typical to Galicia, Kresy, Podlachia, Masovia (including Warsaw), Masuria, Pomerania, Silesia, Lesser Poland, the Tatra mountains and Greater Poland (see List of Polish cuisine dishes).
- Zupa pomidorowa - Tomato soup usually served with pasta or rice.
- Kartoflanka - Potato soup.
- Barszcz - Its strictly vegetarian version is the first course during the Christmas Eve feast, served with dumplings called "uszka" ("small ears" dumplings) with mushroom filling (sauerkraut can be used as well). It is made out of beetroot.
- Czarnina also Czernina - Duck soup or duck blood soup made with duck broth and duck blood, the latter giving the soup a dark color, hence the "czarny" or black. Recipes vary widely, but often sweet and sour ingredients are added, typically vinegar and often sugar, fruit juice or fruit (e.g., prunes, pears) and it is usually served with the duck meat and Kluski-style noodles.
- Chłodnik - Cold beet soup made of soured milk, young beet leaves, beets, cucumbers and chopped fresh dill.
- Zupa buraczkowa - Red beetroot soup with potatoes. Similar to traditional Barszcz although different recipe. However both use beetroot.
- Zupa szczawiowa - Sorrel soup made of sorrel leaves, served with hard boiled egg.
- Flaki or Flaczki - Beef or pork tripe stew with marjoram. Common ingredients include beef tripe, beef, bay leaf, parsley, carrot, beef broth, and spices to taste, including salt, black pepper, nutmeg, sweet paprika, and marjoram.
- Rosół - Clear chicken soup served with noodles.
- Zupa grzybowa/pieczarkowa - Mushroom soup made of various species of mushroom.
- Zupa ogórkowa - Dill pickle soup of sour, salted cucumbers, often with pork.
- Żur or Żurek - Żur with potatoes, Polish sausage (kielbasa), and egg (jajko). Depending on the part of Poland it came from it may contain mushrooms as well. This dish is also called żurek starowiejski (old style countryside rye soup).
- Grochówka - Pea soup, with potato, carrot, kielbasa.
- Kapuśniak - Cabbage soup with chicken, carrot.
- Zupa jarzynowa - Chicken with vegetables bouillon base vegetable soup.
- Zupa owocowa - fruit soup, served cold with different fruits during hot summer.