RUSSIA has forever imprinted a delightful childhood memory in my mind. I once found myself in a Russian port as I travelled on board one of the ships that my father captained. As an only child on board a ship for months, I had little entertainment except books and dreams of doing "normal" kids' activities. I used to dream about ballet, reading books about it and imagining pretty ballerinas. One day my parents treated me to night at the Bolshoi ballet in Russia and I was mesmerised.

Of course, I was too young to know much about food, but the cuisine has always interested me. The freshness of dill, the lightness of sour cream and then that sharp cut of mustard or horseradish – such a wonderful marriage of flavours.

Making friends in the food world has opened my eyes to so many cuisines. One such friend is Alissa Timoshkina, who I met in London a few years ago. Alissa’s background is in film studies and curating, but three years ago she decided to turn her amateur love of cooking and hosting dinners into a career. She now runs a popular supper club called KinoVino where films are used as inspiration for the meals. KinoVino also offers private catering and event planning for special events. Originally from Siberia, Alissa moved to London to study but stayed on. I asked her about childhood food memories from Russia.

Alissa said that growing up in Siberia, she experienced dramatic changes during the seasons. The short summer was always a treat. She explains how it was amazing to have the daylight pretty much until midnight and to be able to have windows wide open 24/7.

“Eating with lots of fresh herbs would be the sign of summer," she said. "My favourite dish being a cold soup called Okroshka – it’s a medley of various fresh vegetables, like cucumbers and radishes, and herbs, like parsley dill and coriander, topped with a fermented bread drink called kvass, smetana and horseradish.”

I couldn’t resist asking Alissa about the upcoming Russian World Cup – she and I are clearly not football people. She did say that hockey was more of a national sport and that football was merely an excuse for most Russians to drink more beer and eat. So now that the sun is out every day, and hopes high of this glorious summer continuing, this Russian dish is perfect for an evening outdoor meal.

Alissa’s Russian Okroshka

Alissa says this dish usually has boiled meat (beef or chicken) but she really likes a vegetarian option and unorthodoxly adds some chickpeas to it.

Serves 4


1 large cucumber

4 hard boiled eggs

10 radishes

1 bunch of dill

1 bunch of parsley

1 bunch of chives

200g of cooked chickpeas or boiled meat of your choice

Salt and pepper to taste

800g of rye kvass or Turkish ayran

4 tbsp of sour cream (if using kvass)

1 tsp of horseradish cream or mustard per plate


Finely dice the cucumber, eggs and radishes, reserving two whole radishes with leaves for decor.

Chop all the herbs and add them to a large mixing bowl together with the eggs, vegetables and drained chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the mixture equally into four bowls, top each with 200ml of kvass or ayran, add a dollop of sour cream (if serving with kvass) as well as a tsp of horseradish or mustard.