History of The Russian Salad

russian salad

Expedition to Goa

I went to Goa after a long gap and was staying in North Goa. I was excited to find a Russian owned bar called Bora Bora in Morjim. My sole agenda to go there was to check if they serve Russian Salad on the menu or not 😊. I’ve always wondered about history of the Russian Salad and whether it was an Indian invention like the Chicken Manchurian. Being next to a Russian Bar rekindled fond memories of cubed potato, boiled egg, carrot, beans and green peas mixed with mayo. In the good old days of ‘continental’ restaurants and buffets off five start hotel coffee shops, the Russian Salad was a star dish and a must-have.

History of the Russian Salad

‘Continental food’ was once a big draw in the main social circles of India. It was very cool to serve the likes of Chicken a la Kiev, Chicken Cordon Bleu and of course Russian Salad. At Bora-Bora I asked for a Russian Salad and got something that they called Olivier Salad on their menu. I’ve seen this as part of Persian restaurants and it piqued my interest. After some digging, I was able to get to the history of the Salad. It was named after it’s creator Chef Lucien Olivier of the famous French-style restaurant in Moscow called Hermitage. The dish was created sometime in the early 1860’s and had gourmet ingredients like caviar, capers, steamed game, crayfish tails and veal tongue in a Provençal salad dressing. The restaurant outlived the chef, who died in 1883 but closed down in 1917, when the Russian Revolution happened.

A new chapter in the history of this dish started post the Russian Revolution. Potato and peas replaced the fancy ingredients along with some veggies and fresh meat by sausage / boiled meat. It was all mixed up mayonnaise. It is this version of the dish that has become more popular and spread to many parts of the world and became the Russian Salad, as we know it today.

Viva la revolución!!