The difference between oladyi and blini
In the Western world, oladyi are often confused with blini. However, oladyi are thick pancakes, whereas blini are thin crepes, also of Russian origins.
In ancient times, blini were originally prepared with oat. However, they are now made with wheat, rye, buckwheat and barley. They are most often savory and served with smetana (sour cream), tvorog (quark cheese), butter, smoked fish or caviar.
Blini symbolize birth and death. In old Russia, a blin (singular form of blini) was given to a woman in labor, and was also served at funerals. Blini were also served during Maslenitsa. This holiday dates back to pagan times, when Russian folk would bid farewell to winter and welcome spring.
What are oladyi?
Oladyi are small thick pancakes prepared with wheat (or sometimes buckwheat) flour, eggs, milk (typically soured milk like kefir or buttermilk) or yogurt, salt and sugar, along with a leavening agent like yeast or baking soda. Oladyi may also include additions such as apple or raisins.
Oladyi are traditionally served with smetana (sour cream), as well as with sweet toppings such as varenye (whole fruit preserve), jam, powidl (unsweetened plum jam), honey, or topped with icing sugar. Savory versions may be served with caviar or other fish roe, similarly to blini.
The term oladyi can also refer to fritters prepared with other ingredients. For example, you will find potato pancakes (kartofelnie oladi), carrot fritters (oladi iz morkovi), bean pancakes (oladi iz bobovyh), rice pancakes (risovye oladi), or summer squash fritters (oladi iz kabachkov).
Syrniki, also known as tvorozhniki (quark pancakes) are also considered a type of oladyi.
What is the origin of oladyi?
The first record of the Old East Slavic word oladya dates from 1470. As a recipe, it is first mentioned in Domostroy (Domestic Order), the 16th-century Russian book of household rules, instructions and advice. The word originally comes from the Ancient Greek ἐλάδιον (eladion), diminutive for ἔλαιον (elaion), meaning “olive oil” or “oily substance”.
Oladyi (singular: oladya) are also called oladushki in Russian, or oladky (singular: oladok or oladka) in Ukrainian.
The word latke, which defines a potato pancake in Jewish cuisine, is derived from the word oladka.
Popular crepes around the world
Crepes, pancakes and flatbread, whether leavened or unleavened, have been a staple of most cuisines for centuries.
You can make crepes with a number of cereals, grains or legumes, including wheat, buckwheat, oat, rice, or chickpea, to name a few.
Here is a non exhaustive list of the most popular crepes, pancakes and flatbread around the world:
– Crepes are the traditional wheat or buckwheat thin crepes originally from Brittany, in France, which dates back to the 12th century.
– Dosa is a thin crepe popular in Southern India and Sri Lanka. Its main ingredients are rice and black gram (black lentil). Traditionally, dosa is served hot along with sambar (lentil-based soup), a stuffing of spiced potatoes, and chutney.
– Appam is a pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk, originally from Sri Lanka and Southern India.
– Æbleskiver are spherical fluffy pancakes that are originally from Denmark, and are similar to Dutch poffertjes
– Boxty is a thick potato pancake of Irish origin
– Mofletta is a Moroccan Jewish pancake, traditionally eaten during the Mimouna celebration, the day after Passover. It is most often served with butter, sugar, honey or jam.
– Baghrir is a North African thick pancake, also called as “crêpe à mille trous” (thousand-hole crepe), which is popular during Ramadan.
– Cong you bing is a scallion pancake that is popular as a street food in China
– Farinata (socca) is an unleavened pancake made with chickpea flour originating in Genoa and that is now a typical food of the Ligurian Sea coast, from Nice to Elba island.
– Injera is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture, traditionally prepared with teff flour, from Ethiopia and Eritrea.
– Lahoh is a spongy, pancake-like bread originally from Yemen, Somalia and Djibouti.
– Tortilla is a thin, unleavened flatbread, typically made from corn or wheat, that is popular in Mexico and Central America.
You can’t go wrong with oladyi as a sweet snack. However, if you would like to prepare these oladyi as savory “blini” as we know them in the West, just use the same recipe and omit the sugar. That way, you will be able to serve them with smoked salmon or caviar for example.
- 1 cup buttermilk (or kefir)
- 1 egg
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
In a bowl, whisk the egg with the buttermilk.
Then, add the sugar and salt, and mix.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda.
Gradually add the flour and baking soda to the mixture.
Stir the mixture until reaching a smooth and silky consistency, similar to a traditional pancake batter.
Heat a pan or griddle over medium heat.
When hot, grease the pan with a little butter.
Pour ladles of batter to obtain oladyi of about 3 inches.
Cook on medium heat.
After 1 to 2 minutes, when the oladyi are golden-brown on the bottom, flip them over.
Repeat the steps with the rest of the batter.
Place the oladyi on a plate lined with paper towels.
Serve with smetana (sour cream), varenye (whole fruit preserve), jam, powidl (unsweetened plum jam), honey, or top with icing sugar