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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Frying Up a Filling Russian Favorite

If you think oladyi are just relatives of pancakes only smaller and fatter, in short another Russian meal you smother with sour cream -- you're right.

The main advantage of oladyi is that you can fit several of them in a frying pan at once and make them quickly, as opposed to the sophisticated art of making bliny, which requires a lot of practice and time for each thin, lacy Russian-style pancake.

The name for oladyi comes from the Greek word for oil and is fitting because they leave your fingers greasy and your stomach stuffed sooner than you expect.

These palm-sized, hockey-puck-shaped concoctions sometimes come in interesting varieties. They can be made with semolina, buckwheat, oatmeal, chick peas or wheat flour without yeast, which makes them lighter.

But the cakes made from tvorog, or sweet cottage cheese, and potatoes are the most popular.

The first kind made with tvorog are called syrniki or tvorozhniki. They should be sweet and creamy enough to nearly melt in your mouth.

To make them, sift 50 grams of flour into a large bowl, then press 450 grams of tvorog through a sieve into the bowl. Add one egg, a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of sugar, half a teaspoon of vanilla and grated lemon rind to taste, if desired. Stir well.

Transfer the mixture to a floured board and form into 12 small patties. Arrange on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill for two to 24 hours.

Before cooking, dust the patties with flour, brushing off the excess.

An easier way to make syrniki is to pour the flour into the soft cheese while stirring constantly, until it reaches a doughy consistency. Add a pinch of baking soda, shape the dough into a sausage-like stick with a diameter of 4 centimeters and cut it into 1/2-centimeter thick slices. Roll each slice in flour.

Melt 50 grams of butter in a frying pan and cook the syrniki until they are golden brown on both sides. Serve warm with sour cream or jam.

Another hit, called draniki, comes from Belarussian cuisine. These cakes, with their crispy golden crusts and delicious, soft potato insides, are my personal favorites.

For a draniki dinner, grate one kilogram of potatoes and mix it with half a cup of flour. Don't squeeze the juice out of the potatoes. Beat in two eggs, add a pinch of salt and mix well. Form the cakes, roll them in bread crumbs or flour and fry on both sides in sunflower oil.

If you are puzzled over certain food items found in Russia, please e-mail Julia Solovyova at or fax her at 257-3211.