1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

Fortune-telling in Russian style: making and eating vareniki January 12, 2009

Despite Christianity being an “official” religion in Russia, Russians have always been deeply pagan. Apparently most of the rituals and traditions of Russian Orthodox Church rooted in the pagan culture of pre-Christian Russia. In the same way the tradition of fortune-telling nights straight after the Russian Christmas (7th January) – is still popular, even after over 1000 years of Christianity.

Since many years my girlfriends and me, we meet after the Russian Christmas to enjoy a special way of fortune-telling, originally in South-Russian tradition. We make and eat VARENIKI – a kind of stuffed dumplings: stuffed with food and “telling objects” 🙂

Now let me share with you the fun.

As a stuffing we normally use smashed potato and mushrooms, however for the sake of fortune-telling we used some other things as well:

Here on the plate you can see:

tomatoes  -for love

coins          -for money/wealth

boy leaf    -for job and fame

ring            -for wedding

thread      -for travel

Then vareniki were carefully and artistically stuffed:


A proper varenik should look like this:

I don`t remember what this one was stuffed with, but basically we were all keen on to find out who will get the ones with the rings!!!!!)

After the vareniki were cooked everyone could pick up as many as one is able to eat and we started carefully opening them trying not to miss the precious stuffing:

One girl was fortunate enough to get even 2 rings!! – the future-telling “works” actually for 1 year and now we are guessing what will happen to her (will she get married twice? or will get two proposals???

And while my dearest girlfriends have been getting all benefits of life like money, travel, fame, rings… I only got love and love and love…(and one coin!). Never mind, I thought- love  comes first and the rest follows 🙂

Basically I would say it is amazing how this thing works –  in the last years we have seen many coincidences, like one girl even swallowed a ring and indeed got married. I keep getting tomatoes and I am indeed in love all the time…

Whatever it is, at the end of the day the vareniki tasted delicious and we had so much fun while making and eating them! – probably because we just love each other so much.

P.S: post is dedicated to my best girlfriends N., I. and I.

LOVE, axinia


25 Responses to “Fortune-telling in Russian style: making and eating vareniki”

  1. Tvick Says:

    Haha! Thats a lovely tradition. there is an exact same looking sweet in Western India and a savoury item in Brazil, called Pastel (pronounced Pasteo). Cool beans

  2. Sahaja Says:

    thats a lovely post Axinia!!! haha….guess what? though we do not have the fortune telling bit, we do have same looking dishes in south India -called kajji kayalu and incidentally tomorrow is our harvesting festival called -Sankranthi/Pongal and this is a must in any household!

  3. axinia Says:

    Tvick, thanks – vareniki can also be sweets (there can be any stuffing, cheese or frutis, there is a huge variety).

    Sahaja, thanks and Happy Sankranthi, it is beautiful festival!

  4. Megaaborigen Says:

    Thank you. I received a great benefit to read the texts. And now I have a good mood. I am healed from major depression! ..

  5. wortman Says:

    very interesting axinia.
    thanks for this posting.
    it looks like these chinese fortune cookies 🙂

  6. swaps Says:

    A x i n i a,
    I am sold out.
    All this time I thought only we made vareniki …. the exact pattern, procedure couldn’t be coincidence. You know who we make it for? Your beloved Ganesha…he just loves it!! It is very sweet, you cann’t eat more than one. As children we used to gauge each before picking one to eat, so that we got the one with most dry fruits in it!!

    “One girl was fortunate enough to get even 2 rings!!”
    Who is she?? 🙂
    I am surprised you didn’t get some rings 😉

    “Russians have always been deeply pagan.”
    Same here…underneath religion, tradition rules.

  7. Molly Says:

    Wow, how cool. Thanks for the insight into this tradition.

  8. Wow! The vareniki look yummy! 😛

    There is an exactly similar looking dish prepared in the same manner here. It’s called kozhukattai in Tamil. (The ‘zh’ sounds like ‘L’ with a roll of the tongue so it sounds more like koLukattai and not kozukattai.) It’s prepared mostly on festive occasions and like Swaps mentioned, it’s a favourite dish of the gluttonous elephant-headed god Ganesha/Vinayaka 🙂 I’m not particulary fond of kozhukattais in general, except those that were made by my grand-mother which were quite delicious.


    What are they called in Kannada and what are they usually filled with?

  9. axinia Says:

    Dear all, I am quite amazed that the idea of vareniki exsists in so many places 🙂 I wonder where they actually origianted from? India?
    I bet most of people in Russia have no clue that this favourite food is popular elswere.

  10. Sahaja Says:

    Thanks Axinia!
    they are generally sweet and filled with a powdered mixture specially made from the grains/pulses and jaggery…its a must item u find in any household of Andhra on Sankranthi – guess the dish originated in a way to use the harvested grains and celebrate!
    PS: I am trying to make them whilst i am in UK and shall post recipe if i make…. 🙂

  11. swaps Says:

    @Raj, as with many things Indian, the stuffings used in ‘Karjikai’ vary. AS with you, I only like the recipe my granny favoured – dry coconut gratings, opium, elaichi, sugar, resins, almonds.

    @Axinia, ours are deep fried and stuffings are suitably choosen, so it will taste different… I am sure Sahaja’s will be very different from mine 🙂 But the pattern is so unique, I wonder I it is found in any other country too.

  12. radha Says:

    in China of course we get them too. but i want to know: is this vareniki party to be made especially at the beginning of the year or anytime? i want to organize it here too:)

  13. radha Says:

    ah yes, after 7th, because it fortune tells you the trend of the year. i guess we are still on time……………………

  14. radha Says:

    one more: ony for women or men allowed?

  15. Swaps,

    Those fillings sound yummy to me. Are karjikaisdeep fried 😕 Kozhukattais are actually steamed like idlis.

    Axinia and Sahaja,

    How are varenikis and kajji kayalus made? Steaming? Baking? Frying?

  16. swaps Says:

    @Raj, yes deep fried. It is very sweet + oily, so I have stopped eating them.

  17. axinia Says:

    vareniki should be actually boiled, not fried.

    radha, men can also paricipate in fortune-telling 🙂 they love eating vareniki, no matter the reason…they are just happy to eat. But some I know who have even got the rings 🙂

  18. Oh dear, then one has to watch the number of karjikais that one eats. I guess I have seen them in sweet shops and even eaten them occasionally. Kozhukattai is more of a snack than a sweet and is steam-cooked in a pressure cooker/ rice cooker/ idli cooker. Some of them are also made in a spherical shape in addition to the standard flat, semi-circular shape.

  19. Sahaja Says:

    U look gorgeous….the black and white dress suits u very well and u look like girl in 20s!! i even had a doubt if its you 😉
    put a similar one as u avatar na? please 🙂

  20. axinia Says:

    Sahaja, sorry to dissapoint you but that is NOT me on this photo 🙂 The photo was taken by me and it is my friend on it.

  21. Sahaja Says:

    Ohh dear….actually i had doubt so did not comment for long…but suddenly thought it mite well be u so asked 🙂

    anyways not to worry, u can pass on the compliments to ur friend 🙂 😉

  22. axinia Says:

    i will, in fact she used to be a model, Miss of one Russian city 🙂 she is very beautiful indeed (and that is not the best picture of her!)

  23. Tara Says:


    nice receipe……………but could not understand exactly what was used as stuffing.

    the same we prepare in north india called as ‘GUJJIYA “

  24. axinia Says:

    hi, the stuffing was popato puree 🙂 with mashrooms and onions chopped.

  25. Vedezevanje Says:

    Nice and useful information. I am going to subscribe your blog. Thanks.

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