Introduction to the Cuisine of Finland

There is a famous Finnish joke that goes like this...."How can you tell if a Finn likes you?" Answer: He's staring at your shoes instead of his own." My curiosity was wider than my smile for this joke. You see, I am not very known for silent spells of introspection. I am known for my wit & endless banter. And I was going to Finland with Club Mahindra Resorts Finland !!! I was told that the people of Finland love their personal space & indulge in small talk only when necessary. But, I discovered they do love to talk....about their food.

And this is what I discovered about the cuisine of Finland from my guide Maria (she patiently showed us around Helsinki), Mikko of Holiday Club Resorts Oy Finland (he patiently chaperoned us through the trip) & chefs Tennu Makkones & Jani Hippinen (they patiently answered my questions & even wrote down difficult names of the Finnish dishes). Lets familiarize ourselves with the cuisine of Finland, where simplicity of the food is laced with freshness of the ingredients.

Marjakakku, Image Courtesy- Visit Finland, Photographer- Kim Ekman


The Traditional Cuisine:

Traditionally, the people of Finland are very loyal to their culinary roots. In former times, seasonal produce & weather conditions played a key role in shaping the cuisine that was rustic yet robust. The harsh weather conditions during long winter months, made fresh fruits & vegetables hard to procure & that led to shaping the cuisine around meat, root vegetables, potatoes, dairy & breads made with rye.
New Potatoes of Finland. Image Courtesy- Visit Finland, Photographer- Elina Sirparanta

Traditional dishes from the western part of the country featured fish & meat prominently whereas the dishes from the eastern part have traditionally included many vegetables & mushrooms. Salt was used for seasoning as fresh herbs would only be found in summer. Meats & fish were preserved by means of drying & smoking. Since Finland has always had a lot of forests, berries were an important part of the cuisine from early days.

Historical Influence:

The cuisine is also heavily influenced by Sweden & Russia, as Finland was ruled by both countries in the past. Till date, each summer the Finns celebrate with “kraftskiva" (Crayfish parties) that originally was a Swedish tradition.

Crayfish of Finland. Image Courtesy- Visit Finland. Photographer- Elina Sirparanta


The Russians introduced mushrooms to Finland & they are primarily used presently to make creamy sauces, soups, fillings in pies or as a side dish. Blini- a thin round pancake of Russian origin is devoured each year by the Finns during the celebrated Blini weeks.

The Present Day Finnish cuisine:

Traditionally, the Finns have always preferred solid home cooking to eating out at restaurants. The Finns eat three meals a day- breakfast, lunch & dinner & porridge made with rye or multi grains is a preferred meal for breakfast. But with new generations of chefs serving modern fare with local produce, things have changed.

Cakes & Pastries of Finland. Image Courtesy- Visit Finland.


Dishes feature a variety of fish like Perch, Salmon, Crayfish served smoked, grilled, baked or pickled. Innovative dishes are made with meats of game birds, reindeer & pork. Root vegetables like beetroot, turnips & parsnips along with new potatoes find their way into the cuisine in various forms whereas spices are used sparingly. Herbs like dill, parsley & rosemary are used to flavour food & drinks. Berries like sea buckthorn, cloudberry & lingonberry  found in abundance are used in main courses as well as desserts.Vodka such as Finlandia and Koskenkorva along with beer are highly popular.

Iconic Finnish Dishes:

If you travel to Finland, the best way to enjoy the cuisine is to eat like a local. Do try the Karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pies, as they are popularly known. The crust is traditionally made with rye flour and filled with potatoes, rice or carrots.

Karelian Pies of Finland. Image Courtesy- Visit Finland


Makkara - grilled sausages eaten with mustard and washed down with beer, Korvapuusti are delicious cinnamon buns, usually eaten with a cup of coffee, New potatoes & Herring (small silvery fish), Poronkäristys - sauteed reindeer meat served with mashed potatoes & berries.

Poronkäristys - sauteed reindeer meat served with mashed potatoes & berries.


Leipäjuusto a mild cheese made by frying or baking curdled milk & served with cloudberry jam are some must try dishes of Finland. In february, Finland celebrates the birthday of the National poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg  with special Runeberg torte cakes bursting with flavours of almond, ginger, cardamom folded in almond meal & biscuit crumbs topped with rum syrup & berry jam. 



The National Bread:

In Finland, one finds a variety of Rye breads-the corner stone of Finnish cuisine. The grains adaptability to soil & weather conditions, made it popular across Finland & rye bread have featured on the food tables for centuries.

Rye Bread of Finland. Image Courtesy- Visit Finland. Photographer-Vastavalo/Taru Rantala


The high fiber content of rye breads have made it a staple across households. The bread is made differently across regions. The eastern parts of the country make it round whereas the west prefers a flat disc with a hole in the middle.

So go ahead & try some iconic dishes from Finland as visiting Finland is now easy with your Club Mahindra membership. Club Mahindra members can now enjoy holidaying in Europe at 31 scenic resorts in Finland, Sweden and Spain. Don't forget to end these meals with a cup of coffee. Just like the Finns. For ideas about planning a visit to Finland, click here

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