Karjalan-piirakka / Karelia´s pie
Updated: Sep 2
Karjalanpiirakka or Karelia’s pie is a Finnish national delicacy food, and its origin dates back to the years 1600-1700 in Eastern Finland; the historical region of Karelia. These delicious pastries usually have small open-oval shapes; the crust is often made with rye flour and filled with a puree of rice or barley, mashed potatoes, or carrots. These pies are very popular and favorite for people of all ages, Finns, and foreigners. They are suitable for everyday use such as snacks, parties, side dish, or accompanied with the meal. They are available in a large variety in almost all food stores as fresh or frozen.
The oldest tradition of Karelia’s pie had thin rye crust, but in some areas of Karelia, the crust in the recipe also contained some wheat for obtaining better baking results. The filling has been originally puree of barley or flour of talkkuna (consists of barley, rye, oat, and pea). However, other grains and vegetables were later introduced, such as rice, millet, buckwheat, potatoes, carrots, swede, turnips, stewed cabbage, and mushrooms as well.
Nowadays, the most common Karjalanpiirakka consists of rye crust and rice-porridge filling, which is usually boiled rice with milk. The Kareila’s pies could be then eaten alone or in different ways, such as accompanied by egg-butter spread on top of them. The egg-butter is made of boiled eggs chopped and mixed with butter. There are other modern topping versions as well, such as tofu scramble mixture with herbs and turmeric (for resembling the yellow color of eggs). Also, the fillings could vary, such as with mashed potatoes, carrots, carrots-rice mixture, or mashed swede and turnips. These delicacy pies are found not only in the Karelia region, but nowadays throughout Finland, in almost all food-markets, and cafes. Since making these pies home-made requires much work and has many stags, people usually prefer to buy them ready-made from food stores. In modern times because of different food-choices of people, one can find different varieties of them readily available in supermarkets, such as regular ones, gluten-free, milk-free, lactose-free, etc.
Traditional specialty guaranteed
Karjalanpiirakka/Kareli’s pie is a food-product which has an official Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) status within the European Union (EU).
This logo means that the traditional specialty product is identified as to be supported and protected. If any bakery makes a similar item-food outside specific areas, it is not allowed to call them karjalanpiirakka. However, depending on the filling, the pies could be called riisipiirakka (rice pastie), perunapiirakka (potato pasties), etc. The purpose of this EU regulation is to protect and keep the reputation of the regional foods, to get rid of any unfair competition which could lead to lower or different quality and taste, and to guarantee that the consumers get an authentic product. To read more about the legal framework provided by the EU Regulations on the Karelia’s pie, see Certificate of the Specific Character.
Apart from enjoying a delicious delicacy dish, it would be good also to know how certain foods associates with the nation’s culture; Kareli’s pie contributes as part of Finland’s cultural heritage.