Updated: Sep 6
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Ukrainian cuisine is very rich with deep roots of delicious food. These roots for all of us Ukrainians, who live in our home country and who are now living around the world, have begun to grow deeper since February 24, 2022, the most horrific date in European history. The full-scale attack of Ukraine by Russia has had devastating effects on my home country. The blog that is linked in this sentence, I published a few days after the initial attack and it's full of emotions Help for Ukraine .
I'm keen to bring back the culture that existed in pre-Soviet Ukraine, and before modern manufacturing in general, with its introduction of industrialized, denatured, and over refined food.
WHAT IS PALYANYTSIA?
Palyanytsia is a round loaf of bread, traditionally cooked outside of the oven, and can compliment any meal. It can be made with wild yeast (sourdough) or without, using wheat or rye flour.
Its distinctive appearance results from a unique cooking process: the dough is not baked in an oven but on a heated surface. Palyanytsya is cooked on both sides without adding fat. Hence, the name of this traditional bread comes from the word “palyty” (to fry in a fire).
Often, the bread was not sliced with a knife but torn apart by hand. As a result, an alternative name for this bread has also gained popularity among the people – “oshchypky” (derived from the Ukrainian word “vydshchipuvaty” meaning to pinch off).
Today I want to share with you my grandmother's bread. The only bread she called PALYANYTSIA (Ukrainian Bread), and the only bread she served with POPPY SEED MILK. It was delish, and as kids, we ate it like kids in the US eat cereal. It was so tasty that we literally ate it any time of the day.
Soft non-sweet flat bread, that is easy and quick to make, beautifully soaks up all the sweetness and moisture from the poppy seed milk, every spoonful gives me goosebumps and sweet memories of my grandmother.
With each of my pregnancies I craved this dish, and it is my childhood comfort food for certain which has become an adult comfort food for me!
FACTS ABOUT PALYANYTSIA
Did you know that in the Ivano-Frankivsk region (West Ukraine) there is a mountain village called Polianytsia? Situated at 920 meters above sea level within the Gorgany mountain range, it is part of the Carpathian National Nature Park.
The first written word mentioning Polianytsia dates back to 1820. The exact founding date of the village is still being determined, but it happened before 1943. That year marks the burial of a company of riflemen who lost their lives in battles against the German occupiers during World War II.
Due to the importance in Ukrainian culture and the country’s agricultural industry, the term “palianytsia” has been steadily gaining in popularity. In 2008, a new variety of wheat was named after it, and in 2022, a network of free food establishments for older people adopted the name.
The Ukrainians have used this word, palianytsia to uncover Russian soldiers and spies. The Russians pronounce this word differently and it can mean discovery or even death! This word can be used to distinguish outsiders from insiders and often is used in war and genocide. A contemporary example has emerged in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine: Ukrainians demand Russian soldiers and suspected saboteurs say ‘'Palianytsia’'.
History has witnessed numerous examples in which incorrect pronunciation played a fatal role in the fate of people and even entire nations.
This is how the concept of shibboleth emerged, as a language password mentioned for the first time in the Bible. Through this method, one can determine whether a person is a native speaker or it is a secondary language or perhaps it is merely a limited familiarity with a language.
“Palianytsia” is an excellent example of a shibboleth that arose in early 2022 in connection with Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine. Ukrainian and foreign speakers pronounce this word in entirely different ways. Despite the apparent simplicity of the word, a person accustomed to the phonetics of another language (where there is no soft sound “ц“ (ts”) and the sound “l” is dental) pronounces this word with a noticeable accent.
As you can see, the word “palianytsia” holds various meanings. Despite several modern meanings, all Ukrainians unanimously recognize it as a type of bread. You might be interested in learning more about this Ukrainian bread and preparing it using a traditional recipe. Therefore, consider exploring classic or holiday recipes for palianytsia. Cook with pleasure and deepen your understanding of Ukrainian culture, the country of freedom, the country that is the bread basket for Europe, and the country that is staves off hunger for millions of people around the globe!
WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE PALYANYTSIA?
All-purpose flour - organic, unbleached, non-bromide if possible.
Egg - just one large egg.
Kefir - plain kefir or yogurt. Buttermilk or sour cream is good here too.
Baking soda - as a leavening agent.
Salt - I always like to use Celtic or pink salt because they are rich in minerals.
Sugar - very small amount gives a perfect balance to the bread and little bit more to help when grinding the poppy seeds. Turbinado sugar is ideal for this task.
Honey - as a healthier sweetener for the poppy seed milk.
Poppy seeds - regular dried poppy seeds.
POPPY SEEDS FOR PALYANYTSIA
Poppy seeds have deep roots in Central and Eastern Europe, where they have been used for centuries to make whole or ground poppy seed meal, which is mostly found in pastries, such as poppy seed rolls, etc.
Try this recipe for nut roll, but sub with ground poppy seeds.
I recommend buying dry and grind yourself the way I did in the video. And don't buy pre-ground in a can, often manufacturers add too much sugar, corn syrup and other unhealthy ingredients.
There are many methods to grind it; the original is to soak in hot water twice, then little by little adding sugar such as Turbinado. Grind by using a big mortar and pestle. This tool in Ukraine is called "Makitra and Makohin". The root for both words is mak – the Ukrainian word for poppy.
This is a long and a little bit of a painful process and takes a lot of time.
My preferred grinding approach is to first cook the poppy seeds in water or milk and then let them absorb all the liquid. Next, grind them with an immersion blender and little by little add in small amounts of sugar. Finally, delude with water and you can determine your preference of thick or thinness for your poppy seed milk.
WHAT ABOUT THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF THESE TINY SEEDS?
They are a rich source of thiamin, folate, and essential minerals including cooper, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and manganese. Also, in being used to create poppy seed milk, they are a great dairy-free and nut-free milk option.
FYI... another health benefit of poppy seed milk, according to Ayurvedic medicine is that it can improve sleep, so it is great for insomnia.
HOW TO SERVE PALYANYTSIA?
I like to serve it as a breakfast or afternoon snack. My children love it. Think of it as cereal, and can be served cold if you make poppy seed milk ahead of time. I like my poppy seed milk consistency on the thinner side, and enjoy capturing the swimming pieces of palianytsia in my spoon.
Back in 2020, in this blog,
I promised all of you that I would share my Grandmother's recipe for palianytsia. And here you go, so please give it a try soon.
Let's do it...
Prep time: 5 minutes
Making time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 25-30 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Serves: 4-6 people
Ingredients for palianytsia
2 &1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil (or any oil of your choice)
1 cup & 2 tablespoons plain kefir (buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pink salt
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
Ingredients for poppy seed milk
1 cup dried poppy seeds
1 cup water or milk (I used water in the video)
3/4 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup raw honey (local if possible)
Preheat the oven 350F.
To make palianytsia add to the bowl all dry ingredients and whisk (I did not whisk in the video, but I highly recommend to do so, since you have a greater chance to not activate some of the baking soda with the acid (kefir in this case), which can lead to a bitter after taste).
Add egg and kefir to the bowl, mix everything together gently with a spatula.
Pour the dough into a cast iron pan (I used a pre-seasoned 12-inch pan) and bake for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the poppy seed milk, first wash the poppy seeds through a fine sifter with running water.
Then add poppy seeds into a pot, add water or milk, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it especially if you use milk watch even more closely, you may need to remove the lid.
After all the liquid has been absorbed, add sugar and with an immersion blender, blend everything together. Be sure to blend slowly; don't rush, until you see the poppy seeds opening up. You will notice they will start to liquify and their color will change to white. Add honey and mix all together. Now add water (boiled and cooled down). The amount of water is up to you so the more water you add the thinner will be your poppy seed milk.
Take your palanitsia from the oven and flip onto a cooling rack. Let it cool for a few minutes (you can bake the day before) and then slice into strips.
To serve, use your fingers and tear apart each strip of palyanitsia. Add poppy seed milk and enjoy immediately!
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