- Speak on the Mordvin cuisine.
Traditional Mordovian cuisine is simple and healthy, but at the same time mysterious and enticing. Here are some delicacies that simply must be tried.
Meat is a staple ingredient for the locals, who have hunted since ancient times, and game would often feature on the dining tables in Erzyan and Mokshan households. Territorially, Mordovia is full of many deep rivers, streams and lakes that are full of fish, which has translated into a particular passion of the Mordvins for fishing. Both Erzyans and Mokshans love eating fish, whether it be raw, fried, baked, cured, dried or even soured.
Rich fish soup («tsebyar shurba» or «syupav shurba»)
Soup for Erzyans and Mokshans always has a meat base, even in less well-off families. One of the favourite soup recipes for people in Mordovia is a rich fish soup made from small and large river fish, which combine together to make the dish simultaneously hearty and aromatic. Fish-based dishes take up a large part of Mordovian cooking, although some may appear strange to visitors because of their unusual combinations. For example, fish stewed in milk or anchovies in dough. Coming back to the fish soup, the Erzyans sometimes make sterlet soup in a chicken broth.
Bear’s Paw («ovton lapat» or «ofton madyat»)
The most well-known main course in Mordovia is the «Bear’s Paw», which is a signature dish of many cafes and restaurants in the region and is served as a classic example of local cuisine. In case you were wondering, no meat from an actual bear is used in the cooking. The recipe uses beef, beef liver and pork, and black bread crumbs are spread on top of the patties once cooked, creating the appearance of a bear’s paw.
Mordovian blinis («pachat» or «pachi»)
Mordovian blinis are distinguished by their great variety. The most common is made from millet flour but wheat, buckwheat and legumes are also used. The blinis should be full, fat and hearty. It is unthinkable not to see them on the dining table during a celebration in Mordovia.
Bosom of the bride
Desserts in Mordovian cuisine tend to be any one of a great number of sweet baked goods. Long ago they often had ceremonial importance, for example the original wedding cake with a filling made from cottage cheese called the «grudi molodushki»(bosom of the bride). In pagan times, this kind of pastry was an unmissable feature in the bridegroom’s home in Mokshan households before weddings. Guests would gather and pray to the high god Niske-Paz to bless the family with many children. Pagan religions have long since disappeared – the Mordvins were converted to Christianity in the middle of the 18th century – but these pastries have remained on the menu for Mordovian families during celebrations.
No table in Mordovia will go without poza during meal-times. This drink is similar to kvass but made from sugar beet. The beet is cut into pieces and put into water, where it stews for a few days. Then rye flour is added and the mixture is left to malt for six hours. The resulting mash is blended with yeast, flour again and sugar mixed with hops. Once ready, the drink is strained and preserved in a cold place. Interestingly, good poza can only be made on traditional kilns, as modern appliances do not produce the same effect. Therefore, despite the drink’s popularity, every attempt to mass-produce it have been unsuccessful. Poza does not contain alcohol and quenches thirst brilliantly, especially during the hot weather in June – exactly when the 2018 World Cup in Saransk will be