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Blini Tanya.jpg
Lithuanian blinis (blynai)
Alternative names Blin, bliny, blintchik
Type Pancake
Main ingredients Buckwheat
Cookbook: Blini  Media: Blini

A blini (sometimes spelled bliny) or, rarely, blin is a light, thin pancake, traditionally made from buckwheat flour and served with sour cream, butter, caviar, and other garnishes.[1] It typically lacks a leavening agent.[2]

Some English dictionaries record usage of the forms blin as singular and blini or bliny as plural, which correspond to the originally Russian forms, but some dictionaries consider this usage so rare in English that they do not mention blin at all and only record the widespread modern regular usage of blini for the singular and blinis for the plural, for example the American Heritage,[1] MacMillan,[3] and[4] dictionaries. Some cookbooks and restaurants use blin and blintchick as in Russian to refer to crêpes.

Blintzes are a type of blini. They are thin, usually wheat-flour pancakes folded to form a casing (as for cheese or fruit) and then sautéed or baked.[5]


The preparation of blinis

Blini comes from the Russian word блины́ bliný (plural of блин blin), which refers to pancakes in general and comes from the Old Russian mlinŭ, blinŭ,[1] which comes from Old Slavic mlinъ,[6] (cf. млинець (mlynets’), Ukrainian for blin).


Blinis were considered by early Slavic people in pre-Christian times to be a symbol of the sun, due to their round form.[2] They were traditionally prepared at the end of winter to honor the rebirth of the new sun (Butter Week, or Maslenitsa, also called "pancake week").[2] This tradition was adopted by the Orthodox church and is carried on to the present day. Blini were also served at wakes to commemorate the recently deceased.

Traditional Russian blinis are made with yeasted batter, which is left to rise and then diluted with cold or boiling water or milk. When diluted with boiling water, they are referred to as zavarniye bliny. Traditionally, blinis are baked in a Russian oven. The process of preparing blinis is still referred to as baking in Russian, even though they are nowadays pan-fried, like pancakes. French crêpes made from unyeasted batter (usually made of flour, milk, and eggs) are also common in Russia. All kinds of flour is used, from wheat and buckwheat to oatmeal and millet, although wheat is currently the most popular.

Blinis were popularized in the United States by Eastern European Jewish immigrants who used them in Jewish cuisine. While not part of any specific religious rite in Judaism, blinis 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 within the Ashkenazi minhag). Blinis, also called "blinchiki" in Russian, are ordinarily stuffed before frying a second time. Fillings include chocolate, mushrooms, meat, rice, mashed potatoes, and cheese.


Frozen blintzes being fried in a pan

Some ways that blinis are prepared and served include the following:

  • Blinis made from batter containing various additions such as grated potato or apple and raisins.[2] Such blinis are quite common in Eastern Europe and Central Europe and are more solidly filled than the spongy pancakes usually eaten in North America.
  • Blinis covered with butter, sour cream, jam, honey, or caviar (whitefish, salmon, or traditional sturgeon caviar). They may be folded or rolled into a tube.
  • Blintzes. A filling such as jam, fruit, potato, quark, cottage cheese or farmer 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 blintzes are also called nalysnyky (Ukrainian: налисники) or blinchiki (Russian: блинчики) or krokiety (Polish). The caviar filling is popular during Russian-style cocktail parties.
  • Buckwheat blinis are part of traditional Russian cuisine.[2] They are also widespread in Ukraine,[2] where they are sometimes known as hrechanyky (Ukrainian: гречаники), and Lithuania's Dzūkija region, the only region in the country where buckwheat is grown, where they are called grikių blynai.

Blinis are the traditional meal in Lithuania on Fat Tuesday.[7]

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