All the Gastronomic Nook and Crannies of the Volga Region

The vibrant phenomenon of Tatarstan restaurant culture

By Federal Agency for Tourism

Tatarstan gastronomy by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism


Tatarstan's contemporary cruising owes its renown to the great chef and cooking author Yunus Akhmetzyanov (1927 - 1984). 

Vkusnaya Kazan food festival by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

In the 1960s, Akhmetzyanov toured local villages to collect by then nearly forgotten ethnic dishes.

Chirem Restaurant by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

His heritage has been recorded in books and passed on to other chefs. One of them, Ilgiz Shakirov, is with the fashionable Kazan restaurant Chirem, which translates as "young spring grass", and offers a choice of popular ethnic Tatar dishes in restaurant style. 

TATAR FOOD — KSTB by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Kazan's restaurant culture

A vibrant phenomenon. Apart from ethnic eateries suitable for an official function, there are fast food chains. Tatar Food KSTB offers the eponymous kystybyy unleavened fried flatbreads. These traditionally feature mashed potatoes inside, but in Tatar Food you can sample all kinds of fillings, and treat yourself to Tatar pies as desserts.

Tatarstan gastronomy by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

In addition to ethcnic cooking, Kazan can boast cocktail bars that would make St.Petersburg proud, great wine places that rival those in Moscow, family restaurants and fashionable individual projects.

Tatarstan gastronomy by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

At Artel, chef Bulat Ibragimov uses local foods, while Setka Bar combines New Nordic dishes with Orange wine.

Franky bar by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhny Novgorod's most acclaimed chef Andrei Sulima has won recognition beyond his native region by taking part in the Russian syndication of Hell's Kitchen. He has opened several restaurants in Nizhny Novgorod and founded a cooking school in the city a few years ago which accepts both kids and adults.

More importantly, he has been bringing together chefs to form a cooking community and has been promoting local producers and artisans. 

Ceylon Bistro by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Today Nizhny Novgorod is the capital of Russia's graffiti culture, a vibrant industrial city and a port, which means a particular climate and food scene.

Salut cafe by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Here, 19th century warehouses house fashionable restaurants, while hipster cafes neighbor tough-looking craft pubs and Russia's most popular fast food of all, shawarma.

Burger by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Nizhny Novgorod restaurants may not top the rankings of those places one must visit in Russia, but this city is home to Salyut, the Volga Region's most acclaimed burger house.

More than a simple eatery, it is a true point of attraction set in the style of Brooklyn 1970s cafes and founded by one of the city's most important restaurateur Sergei Ukhanov.

Fish soup by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Fun Facts About Regional Cuisine

In the 17th century, Caspian beluga and sturgeon became an indispensable feature of the tsar's and patriarch's meals, and an important export. 

By the end of the 18th century, Russian had virtually turned into the world's only exporter of sturgeon caviar, a status-quo that had lasted until the 20th century.

Napoleon cake (21st Century) by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Even today many Russians, let alone foreigners, assume that Astrakhan residents breakfast, lunch and supper on black granular, or at least processed caviar. This, of course is not true. Pike roe is far more popular.

Fish dish with sauce by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Today sturgeon in Russia is mostly farmed in special ponds, an art perfected by Soviet producers by the end of the 1970s.

Sterlet by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Aquaculture species include the Lena sturgeon, and its hybrids, and the bester, a hybrid of beluga and sterlet from the Saratov Research Institute of Fish Breeding. Still, just as 300 years go, sturgeon is a royal meal regardless of how it was bred.

Artel cafe by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Russia's most famous condiment, hot mustard, comes from the Volga Region. Dangerously spicy to be spread in anything but thin layers, it added to bread, aspic or meat. By Catherine the Great's order, German colonists were allowed to settle in Volga steppes in the 18th century where they cultivated...

...what is known as Sarepta mustard in Russia, and Russian mustard in Europe.

restaurant bar by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

In the Volga Region, mustard seeds are used to produce spicy vegetable oil that has a very recognizable aroma and is used in cooking and cosmetics.

still life by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Russian cuisine is hardly imaginable without dairy and fermented milk products. These are popular in the Volga Region as well. Each ethnicity here has developed its own way of processing milk of cows and other animals.

An authentic and popular product is the dried cottage cheese which is called kurut and comes in a dozen varieties.

Seafood (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Volga tributaries teem with smaller fishes which had to be preserved and stored giving rise to the tradition of salting and sun drying fish. 

Beer by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

That in turn produced one of Russia's best known and popular foods, roach, that for any Russian epitomises a dried beer snack.

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Contributors — Natalia Savinskaya, Anna Kukulina, Proximity Russia, Denis Yershov, Tatyana Shishkina, Margarita Gorkina, Katerina Smirnova

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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