Black bread plays a very important role in Latvian’s life. It is unlike other rye breads you have tasted and it is still made according to old recipes - often made by hand. Latvian meals are always served with bread of some type. Black Rye bread is usually made of rye flour, buttermilk, salt, water and caraway seeds to taste.
VEGETABLE TARTS (SKLANDU RAUSI)
Vegetable tarts – sklandu rausi – are mainly eaten in the Kurzeme region. These tarts are made of rye or wheat flour, margarine, sugar, salt and eggs. Filling are based on potatoes or carrots. In addition sour cream is usually used.
LATVIAN BACON BUNS (PÎRÂGI)
These buns can be used as appetizers, as part of a light lunch (with cup of bouillon-soup) or as a part of a party table. They are best straight from the oven, but can be eaten frozen or re-heated as well. Usually they are made from flour, milk, pork, onions, yeast, sugar, salt and eggs. This dish is always prepared for and a must at Christmas.
PORK IN ASPIC (SIVĒNA GALERTS)
It is a typical Latvian food, which is prepared in almost every home. Aspic is a dish in which ingredients are set into gelatine made from a meat stock or consommé. Latvian pork in aspic is commonly prepared of young pork meat (usually knuckles and a piece of side or shoulder), eggs, onions, carrots, celery, parsley, and bay leaves, as well as salt, pepper and garlic to enrich the taste. Boiled meat pieces and boiled vegetables are beautifully arranged in a bowl and poured with broth after which are left in a cold place to set. Cold pork in aspic goes well with vinegar, mustard, horseradish or salad.
HERRING IN A JACKET
Soak herring and peel off skin. Slice fillet into angled pieces. Dice vegetables and arrange to cover a fish plate in a slight mound. Arrange the pieces of herring on top of the mound with the points coming together in the centre. Mix sour cream, horseradish, salt and sugar and pour diagonally over the herring. Spread chopped spring onions. Cut hollow cone shapes from a boiled carrot to decorate the centre or one side of the dish.
JĀŅI SUMMER SOLSTICE CHEESE
Today the most popular celebration in Latvia is Jāņi (the summer solstice) and the main Jāņi foods are cheese and beer which are found on every Jāņi festive table. It is usually made of dry cottage cheese, milk, sour cream, eggs, butter, salt and caraway seeds. The ways how to prepare the summer solstice cheese dates back hundreds of years.
Sorrel soup is a soup made from water, sorrel leaves, and salt. Other possible ingredients are egg yolks or boiled eggs and boiled potatoes. Latvian version of sorrel soup also contains carrots, onions, dill, pork meat and pearl barley can be used instead of potatoes. It can be served hot or cold, and usually with sour cream. It is known in Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Eastern European Jewish cuisines.
FRIKADEĻU ZUPA (MEATBALL SOUP)
Latvian Meatball Soup (Frikadelu Zupa) is rich in taste soup, popular in Latvia. The soup is prepared simply by boiling potatoes and carrots in a broth and adding meatballs. The meatballs are usually made of a mass of mixed ground beef, bread crumbs, minced onions, eggs and seasoned with salt and pepper. Meatball soup is served in a small bowl with sour cream and chopped dill pickles or parsley sprinkled on the top.
SOUR CREAM SOUP (SKÂBÂ PUTRA)
Another traditional Latvian dish you might come across is sour cream soup. It is made from barley, water and buttermilk, and is a summer dish, chilled for six to twelve hours to make it really refreshing. The sour cream is added at the last minute, and the soup is served cold with herring or bread and butter on the side.
GREY PEAS WITH BACON
Grey peas with bacon are usually prepared for Christmas time, but it can be eaten as a main dish, as well. People prefer to have it together with buttermilk or sour milk.
It is a well know specialty that has been influenced by German cuisine. This delicious meal is simply made with sauerkraut being fried in butter with onions and carrots and seasoned with salt and sugar. Tender sautéed sauerkraut goes perfectly with baked pork and other meat dishes.
FISH COOKED IN MILK
It is a popular main dish across the country. Preparation is quite easy: fish pieces are cooked in hot milk in a pan together with onion rings, grated carrots, chopped parsley and seasoned with salt and pepper. When the fish is ready, sour cream is added to create a tasty creamy sauce. The fish is usually served with the sauce it was cooked in, boiled potatoes and sprinkled with chopped aromatic herbs.
This dessert is prepared using cranberries, black or red currants, strawberries, raspberries or other berries or juice. Usually water, sugar and semolina are added. Debessmanna is served in deep dessert bowls and eaten with cold milk.
As apple – trees are commonly found in Latvian gardens, many meals are prepared with apples inside. Apple slice is one of the simplest pies and can be prepared in a short time. The main ingredients: flour, milk, yeast, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and apples for topping.
Rūpjmaizes Kārtojums (Layered Latvian Rye Bread Dessert)
It is simply made of layers of rye breadcrumbs, whipped cream (made of cream, sugar and vanilla) and cranberry jam. The top of the dessert is usually covered with another layer of bread crumbs and cream. This dessert is usually served with a glass of milk. Another version of this dessert consists of rye breadcrumbs mixed with sugar and cinnamon. Cream of cottage cheese can also be used.
Brewing traditions in Latvia date back into prehistory. Today there are many breweries – large and small. The largest and oldest breweries are Cēsu and Aldaris, however there are many more. As soon as the sun and warm spring appears, beer gardens and terraces appear everywhere serving beer with tasty snacks.
RIGA BLACK BALSAM
Riga Black Balsam is traditional Latvian herbal liquor made with many different natural ingredients mixed in pure vodka. Everyone can drink it as it is or you can make many cocktails using it. The traditional recipes are based on a composition of 24 different ingredients like plants, flowers, buds, juices, roots, oils and berries prepared in oak barrels. Over time, experts from many countries have given it more than 30 awards at international fairs.
There is nothing more enjoyable than the fresh taste of herbal tea! It is the combination of boiling water, dried fruit, flower and herb. Traditionally herbal in Latvia herbal teas are made of lime-blossoms, mint, St Jonh’s wort, chamomile, calendula and other herbs. Sugar or honey can be added to taste.