Holiday Cuisine – Russia

Easter Food Tradition

Kulich and Pasha – Russia

On Easter, my mom would go to church and have a big Russian feast with her family. The traditional Russian dessert is kulich and pasha

Kulich is a cake baked for a long time in a coffee can. It is marked by its characteristic sweet dough made with egg yolks, sugar, and candied fruit. Her mother used to spend a long time kneading, punching, and letting the dough rise. After it baked, they would take it to the Russian Orthodox Church and have it blessed by the priest. On top of the kulich, they would write the Russian letters for “HB,” which stood for “Christ has Risen” in Russian.

They ate the kulich with the sweet spread, pasha, served on top. It was made out of cottage cheese, egg yolks, sugar, and raisins. Like the kulich, the pasha took a long time to prepare—it had to sit in the refrigerator for a week or two in a mold. They would pile bricks on top of it to drain the water.

My mom told me that the tradition surrounding kulich and pasha was very social. The community would go around and visit the different families, tasting each other’s recipes. Each family had its own secret recipe with an ingredient nobody outside the family knew. My mom’s family used saffron in their kulich. Afterwards, all the old ladies would sit together and gossip about the recipes, debating over which ones they liked. When I asked her how she felt about the kulich and pasha, she said they were delicious and suggested making them again soon despite the hard work.

I would definitely like to participate in this food tradition. It’s interesting how it starts off just with the family and by the end of Easter, becomes a community event.

The sheer length of time and amount of work put into making this dessert is probably what makes it so special. It also seems very rewarding to be able to show it off to other families after all the hard work.