|Course||Appetizer, main, dessert|
|Place of origin||Eastern Europe|
|Serving temperature||Warm or hot|
|Main ingredients||Yeast dough, various fillings|
Pirozhki (plural form of pirozhok, Russian: пирожок, пирожки, which means a little pirog), sometimes transliterated as pyrizhky (plural from Ukrainian: пиріжок), is a generic word for individual-sized baked or fried buns stuffed with a variety of fillings. The stress in pirozhki is properly placed on the last syllable: [pʲirɐʂˈkʲi]. Pirozhok (Russian: пирожок, singular) is the diminutive form of the Russian cognate pirog (Russian: пирог), which refers to a full-sized pie. The Russian plural of this word, pirogi (Russian: пироги, with the stress on the last syllable [pʲirɐˈɡʲi]), is not to be confused with pierogi (stress on "o" in Polish and English) in Polish cuisine, which are similar to the Russian pelmeni or Ukrainian varenyky.
A common variety of pirozhki are baked stuffed buns made from yeast dough and often glazed with egg to produce the common golden colour. They commonly contain meat (typically beef) or a vegetable filling (mashed potatoes, mushrooms, onions and egg, or cabbage). Pirozhki could also be stuffed with fish (e.g., salmon) or with an oatmeal filling mixed with meat or giblets. Sweet-based fillings could include stewed or fresh fruit (apples, cherries, apricots, chopped lemon, etc.), jam, quark or cottage cheese. The buns may be plain and stuffed with the filling, or else be made in a free-form style with strips of dough decoratively encasing the filling.
Potatoes among American crops became very popular when the vegetable was brought and adopted to the Eurasian climate. Before then, the ingredient was not available as it took more time to acclimatize to continental regions like Russia and Ukraine. Before then, the ingredients would contain more vegetables and fruits, as well as duck, goose and rabbit meat, uncommon today.
The Greek variety piroski (Greek: πιροσκί) is popular in parts of Greece influenced by eastern cuisine and in most big cities, where they are sold as a type of fast food. The Greek piroski come deep-fried with many different stuffings.
The Baltic region
In Latvia crescent-shaped buns of leavened dough called pīrāgi (often referred to in diminutive pīrādziņi) or speķa rauši (literally, "bacon tarts") are traditionally filled with bacon and onion. Other fillings are also possible. However the name pīrāgi is not exclusive to these buns, but can refer to variety of other pastries, such as pies and turnovers. Pīrāgi were often eaten as lunch by farmers and shepherds working the fields.
Estonians too have this tradition. The pirukad are fairly small in size and have regional variations in respect to fillings. Pirukad are sometimes accompanied by bouillon. Many recipes exist, with meat, cabbage, carrots, rice, egg and other fillings and filling mixtures also being used. The Latvian bacon and onion version is known to Estonians, but is not as common. One can also encounter sweet fillings, although savory pirukad predominate.
Karelian pasties (karjalanpiirakat/karjalanpiirakka in the South Karelian dialect of Finnish and karjalanpiiraat/karjalanpiiras in the North Karelian dialect) are a differently shaped pie popular in both Karelia and Finland. Compared to the Baltic pirukas and pīrāgi, the Karelian pastries are open-faced.
Pirozhki are common as fast food on the streets of the Central Asian countries in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, where they were introduced by the Russians. They are also made by many Russians and non-Russians at home.
Pirozhki is also very common as fast food in Mongolia, and it is made throughout the country by families at home.
Caucasus and Iranian Azerbaijan
An Iranian version, called پیراشکی (pirāški) is often eaten as a dessert or as a street food. It is commonly filled with cream, but potato and meat fillings are also available in some shops. The Iranian sweet shops in Los Angeles have invented other versions such as chocolate and blueberries.
A Japanese version, called ピロシキ (piroshiki), are predominantly fried, use fillings such as ground meat, boiled egg, bean noodles, spring onion etc., and are commonly breaded with panko before frying, in the manner of Japanese menchi-katsu. Another popular variation is filled with Japanese curry and is quite similar to karē-pan, which is itself said to be inspired by pirozhki.
- Piroshki or Pirozhki in Larousse Gastronomique, The New American Edition (Jenifer Harvey Lang, ed.), Crown Publishers, New York (1988), p. 809.
- Piroghi or Pirozhki in Larouse Gastronomique, first English language edition (Nina Froud and Charlotte Turgeon, eds.), Paul Hamlyn, London (1961), p. 740-741.
- Pirog in The Oxford Companion to Food (Alan Davidson), Oxford University Press (1999), p.p. 609-610.
- Speķa rauši in "Latviska un Moderna Virtuve" (The Latvian and Modern Kitchen), Fischbach D.P. Camp, Germany, 1949; pg. 24, original in Latvian and translated into English