Our writer shares this very doable, delicious method for cooking up your own blini … with one surprise ingredient.
When I was teaching English in Belarus, blini quickly became my favorite local dish. Many people compare them to crepes, but blini are older than crepes! They originated during the Middle Ages in what is now Russia, and are now a savory alternative to crepes. As Belarus was long a part of the USSR, blini are also considered a traditional Belarusian food.
Blini (or blin, in its singular form) are so ingrained in Belarusian society that they’ve transcended the culinary world to enter the language. People often say “blin” to express when a mistake or mishap has occurred, similar to “oops” in English. There’s also a phrase that translates to “the first blin is always a clump.” People say this to encourage each other to keep trying when the first time they do something doesn’t go as intended.
Of course I needed to learn how to make blini myself. A colleague shared her favorite recipe with me. Many Belarusians prefer to make blini with kefir as the main ingredient instead of milk, making these blini a bit thicker than regular blini.
Friends and I practiced our blini-making skills often while experimenting with the endless topping possibilities. My favorites? Warm caramel with diced apples or fried mushrooms with cottage cheese. The two most popular blini toppings in Belarus are jam or condensed milk.
Try making your own, and let us know what your preferred toppings are!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Makes about 20 blini.
2 cups kefir (or equal parts milk, if you don’t have kefir)
½ tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for cooking
½ cup milk
½ cup boiling water
2 cups flour
- Add the kefir and baking soda into a bowl and let it sit until the bubbles disappear.
- Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, and salt. Add the olive oil, and then the milk. Add in the boiling water while beating the mixture with a whisk (or fork) so that the eggs don’t cook.
- Add the kefir into the egg mix and beat while slowly adding the flour. The mixture should be about the thickness of drinkable yogurt or kefir. Add more milk if it seems too thick or more flour if it’s too runny.
- Once the mixture is at the appropriate thickness, let it stand for 3-4 minutes to finish combining and activating.
- Preheat a pan on low-medium or medium heat and add a bit of olive oil to the pan. Pick up the pan from the heat and pour about a ladleful of the mixture into the pan while swirling it around so that it evenly coats the pan’s bottom. Flip the blin once it starts to bubble and look set on the top, about 1-2 minutes. Cook the blin on the other side for another minute.
- Once the blin is cooked, put it on a clean plate and top with butter.
- To serve, place a single blin on a plate and top with your preferred toppings. Fold into a triangle and eat with either your hand or a knife and fork.
Topping ideas: Condensed milk, jam, honey, chicken and mushrooms, and mushrooms and feta cheese are the most common in Belarus, but you can custom-create your own by combining any base (such as jam or cheese) with a stuffing (such as fruit or mushrooms). Or go the less-traditional route and combine other spreads, vegetables, and fruits—think hummus and veggies for a Mediterranean version or caramel and cooked apples for a sweet treat.
About the author: Kendal Karstens is the sustainable travel writer behind Getaway Girl and a self-proclaimed pineapple addict. She loves sharing her budget zero-waste travel tips while eating her way around the world. Check out her website for more stories from life in Belarus! You can also find her on Instagram.