AskDefine | Define Blini

Dictionary Definition

blini n : Russian pancake of buckwheat flour and yeast; usually served with caviar and sour cream [syn: bliny]

Extensive Definition

A blintz, blintze or blin (plural: blintzes, Lithuanian: Blynai, blynai; Russian: блин blin, блины (pl.) Polish: bliny; Ukrainian: млинці, mlyntsi; Yiddish: בלינצע blintze) is a thin pancake (similar to a crêpe).

Etymology, origins, culture

The English word blintz comes from the Yiddish בלינצע ("blintze"), which in turn comes from blin. "Blin" comes from Old Slavic mlin, that means "to mill" (compare the Ukrainian word for blin млинець, mlynets’).
Blins had a somewhat ritual significance for early Slavic peoples in pre-Christian times since they were a symbol of the sun, due to their round form. They were traditionally prepared at the end of the winter to honor the rebirth of the new sun (Pancake week, or Maslenitsa). This tradition was adopted by the Orthodox church and is carried on to the present day. Bliny were once also served at wakes, to commemorate the recently deceased.
Traditional Russian bliny are made with yeasted batter, which is left to rise and then diluted with cold or boiling (zavarnye bliny) water or milk just before baking them in the traditional Russian oven (to this day the process of cooking bliny is referred to as baking in Russian, even though these days they are almost universally pan-fried, like pancakes). By Russian tradition the first blin is always destroyed while frying. Blintzes (blinchiki in Russian, considered to be a borrowed dish) are made from unyeasted batter (usually made of flour, milk and eggs) and are nearly identical to French crêpes. All kinds of flour may be used for making bliny: from wheat and buckwheat to oatmeal and millet, although wheat is currently by far the most popular.
Blintzes were popularized in the United States by Jewish immigrants who used them in Jewish cuisine. While not part of any specific religious rite in Judaism, blintzes that are stuffed with a cheese filling and then fried in oil are served on holidays such as Chanukah (as oil played a pivotal role in the miracle of the Chanukah story) and Shavuot (when dairy dishes are traditionally served).
Blins may be prepared and served in three basic ways.
  • They may be eaten "as is". In this case the batter may contain various add-ins, from grated potato or apple to raisins. These blini are quite common in Eastern Europe and are more solidly-filled than the spongy pancakes usually eaten in North America.
  • They may be smeared with butter, sour cream, jam, honey, or caviar (whitefish or salmon caviar, traditional sturgeon caviar is not kosher) and possibly folded or rolled into a tube. In that form they are similar to French crêpes. The caviar filling is popular during Russian-style cocktail parties.
  • (The term "blintz" is mostly applicable to this version): A filling such as jam, fruit, potato, cottage cheese or other cheese, cooked ground meat, cooked chicken and even chopped mushrooms, bean sprouts, cabbage and onions (for a Chinese eggroll-type blintz) is rolled or enveloped into a pre-fried blintz and then the blintz is lightly re-fried, sautéed or baked. Such a blintz is also called nalysnyky in that form (Ukrainian: налисники) or blinchiki (Russian: блинчики).
  • It is the traditional meal in Lithuania during Lent
Buckwheat bliny are part of traditional Russian cuisine, almost forgotten during the times of the Soviet Union. They are still widespread in Ukraine where they are known as hrechanyky (Ukrainian: гречаники), and Lithuania's Dzūkija region, the only region in the country where buckwheat is grown. It is traditionally called .
Blini in Belarusian: Бліны
Blini in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Бліны
Blini in Czech: Bliny
Blini in German: Bliny
Blini in Erzya: Пачалксеть
Blini in Spanish: Blini
Blini in French: Blini
Blini in Hebrew: בליני (מאכל)
Blini in Lithuanian: Blynai
Blini in Japanese: ブリヌイ
Blini in Polish: Bliny
Blini in Russian: Блины
Blini in Ukrainian: Млинці
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