"No Cod, No Work" and Other Russian North Specialities

From traditional pies to dietary meat

By Federal Agency for Tourism

Dish with codfish by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism


"Cod eaters" was the name of the Pomors until the 20th century for their hundreds of cod recipes. 

Murmansk Pomors shipped salted cod to the rest of Russia. "No cod, no work"  goes a local saying, and there are multitude of ways to cook it In Arkhangelsk. 

Codfish soup by Alexander AverinFederal Agency for Tourism

One of the more prominent recipes that varies from restaurant to restaurant, and from home to home is baking cod in tvorog or roast it in milk. 

Pomors' traditional cuisine featured salted and dried cod, but fresh fish was always the best. Locals have also been very well disposed to haddock, catfish and pollack, coupled with halibut used to be consumed on special occasions

And Atlantic salmon that is eaten on special occasions today. 

Pie with fish by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Fish  Pies

"A stronger fish will gut and wrap itself in a pie. The salmon and halibut wrap themselves up the fastest. The housewives will only butter them and put them into the stove," reads a Pomor tale If you don't like it, don't listen to it" by Stepan Pisakhov. There is a snippet of truth in every fairy tale. In the north fish seem to ask to be put in a pie often baked  whole in the dough.

Some fish will go in with their scales, and some with bones, since pies are eaten with hands. Dough may be rye throughout since the Pomors didn't have much wheat, but today it is often a mix of rye and wheat or other flour. Fish is so respected in the North that every year the village of Byzovaya, on the Pechora River, holds the Cherinyan Gazh festival.

Pie with fish by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Cherinyan translates as "fish pies" from the Komi language, while the festival offers a chance to try a few and familiarise yourself with the local folklore.

Mushrooms by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Forest Treasures

Birth boletuses, milkcaps, mushrooms, cranberries, blueberries and cloudberries - in the North people cook literally everything from mushrooms and with mushrooms, as well as from berries or with berries.

In the North, mushrooms used to literally be called "lips" or "guby" giving rise to the gubnitsy fresh mushroom soup and gubniki salted mushroom pies. 

Lingonberry by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Forest berries are used here as a filling for kalitka pies, a staple for sauce, kvass, beer, or kissel, a seasoning for pickles and fermented foods, an ingredient for liqueurs, tinctures and balsams, and a standalone snack whether freshly picked, soaked or sweetened.

Berries by Alexander AverinFederal Agency for Tourism

It is a bizarre misunderstanding, that cloudberry, the chief local berry, is a symbol of Finland rather than Russia.

KalitkiFederal Agency for Tourism


Rye is the traditional taste of the North. But oats and barley were also grown in the North. These were the source for open and closed pies and buns called kalitki. A Russian cuisine researcher Maxim Marusenkov writes: "This is how rye pies (thin unleavened flatbread) with millet porridge were called in Kargopol in the middle of the 19th century. 

Kalitki by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

In Vologda Province, the stuffing was a solution of oats in milk, in Arkhangelsk,  barley groats soaked in milk flavored with melted butter.

Kalitki could be baked from wheat flour or flour mix and could be of various sizes and shapes with many kinds of filling including ground potatoes, groats, cereals, oat flour, less often - with berries, tvorog or peas". 

Perepechi by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

This settles the case for diversity. Kalitki are at its simplest  a flatbread made of unleavened dough with a characteristic pinch on the edge. The pies are widespread in the North from Karelia, to Arkhangelsk and farther to the east. The fillings range from mushrooms to berries.

Milk ukha by Nikolai GernetFederal Agency for Tourism

Milk Ukha

Kalakeitto is Karelia's most famous soup that has influenced culinary thinking in all of the neighboring regions, including St. Petersburg. Another name for it is "milk soup" for its recipes that combines cod or whitefish fillet with milk thickened with flour.

Kozuli by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism


Every regional Russian cuisine has its own pryanik gingerbread. The Pomors have their winner which is the carved kozuli gingerbread.  Originally ceremonial unsweetened cookies in the shape of animals and birds, it had become gingerbread by the 18th century, when sugar and spices began to be added to the dough.

Flat Arkhangelsk kozuli, painted with glaze, most of all resembles the European gingerbread, while the bulk Kholmogory ones look like clay figures.

Teterka (Kargopol Kozuli) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Kargopol variations called tetyory are literally woven from rye unleavened dough. The resulting lace is so stunning that it is even a shame to eat it.

Meat by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Dietary Meat

Traditional northern cuisine has almost no place for meat dishes. Dairy farming is far more prevalent. Moving closer to the Arctic Circle, and meat in the form wild elk and deer springs on the menu. Elk meat is lean and dry, so it is cooked with sour berries of the likes of lingonberries or cranberries. Reindeer are reared on special farms by the Sami, indigenous inhabitants of the Kola Peninsula.

Reindeer feed on Yagel moss that has bacteria-killing properties, and their meat, consumed raw as stronganina or roasted with lingonberries, cranberries and cloudberries, is considered healthy. 

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Contributors — Natalia Savinskaya, Anna Kukulina, Proximity Russia, Denis Yershov, Kirill Simakov, Natalia Rybalchenko, Rashid Rakhmanov, Sergey Ivanov

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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