My journey of discovery with Ukrainian cuisine continues, albeit with a heavy heart as the Ukrainian people who are no doubt missing the simple pleasures of a meal with friends or family now number more than one million. Last week, I shared Ukrainian-inspired potatoes, a delicious and indulgent way to serve the humble spud in a buttery, creamy, herby sauce. This week, I am sharing my take on shpundra, a Ukrainian pork stew with beetroot, a favourite vegetable in that part of the world.

I am a big fan of the pre-cooked beetroot from the supermarket – it is an easy, affordable way to add a punch of rich, earthy flavour to your cookery, although you need to open the bags very carefully lest you don’t end up spraying dark pink juice all over yourself and the kitchen. Even if you are a beetroot refusenik, I strongly urge you to try this pork stew. The rich flavours may just change your mind on this fabulous magenta vegetable.

If you don’t eat pork, the pork stew can easily become a chicken, beef or lamb stew. And if you don’t eat meat, a meat-free alternative to the fatty chunks of pork belly would be to add chunks of cauliflower, potato or sweet potato – or a combination of the three. The meat-free variations are at steps 3 and 4 of the recipe.

And if you’d prefer not to use alcohol in your cookery, apple juice works well here as a classic partner for pork.

When I made this pork stew last weekend, it fed my husband and I for dinner on Saturday night and then I served the leftovers on baked potatoes for an easy, lazy Sunday dinner.

While I’ve got your attention, please click here to read more about Reporters Without Borders about the dangers for journalists in Ukraine at the moment. Without the bravery of journalists who are risking their lives along with the people of Ukraine in places such as Kyiv, Mariupol, Odessa and Lviv, we would struggle to stay informed about this truly awful conflict.

Ukrainian pork stew: Georgia’s take on shpundra


500g pork belly, diced

2 pre-cooked beetroots, diced

One small onion, red or white, finely chopped

80g plain flour

80s cornflour

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil but any cooking oil works)

125ml white wine

250ml stock (I used my homemade vegetable stock, but any stock will do the job)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Four tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons caster sugar

Fresh dill and parsley to garnish


  1. Mix the diced pork belly, flour, cornflour, salt and pepper in a bowl until the meat is nicely coated.
  2. Using a wide, heavy-bottomed pot, fry the pork in oil until it is evenly browned. Toss the excess flour into the pot as this will help thicken the sauce.
  3. Set the browned pork belly aside and in the same pot, fry the onion until it starts to soften. (For the meatless version, start the recipe at this step, adding the flour and cornflour)
  4. Return the pork belly to the pot along with the beetroot, white wine, stock, more salt and pepper to taste, vinegar and lemon juice. (For the meatless version, add your choice of chopped cauliflower, diced sweet potato or diced potato here – or a mix of all three)
  5. Mix well, turn the heat down low and cook gently for one hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. The pork should be tender. Add a handful each of fresh dill and parsley to the pot just before serving with rice, pasta or potatoes.

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