Ever heard of põde? No, it’s not some fancy new diet or social media app. Põde is actually an Estonian comfort food, a rich and hearty beef and barley stew. On a cold winter day, nothing beats a steaming bowl of põde to warm you up from the inside out. The name comes from the Estonian word for ‘to simmer’ which is exactly how this stick-to-your-ribs dish is made.

Tender beef chunks, nutty barley, and root veggies like carrots and potatoes are simmered for hours in a broth flavored with bay leaves, black pepper, and sometimes beer or red wine. The result is a thick, savory stew that is pure comfort in a bowl. Põde is soul food at its finest, meant for sharing with friends and family. Though põde may be unfamiliar, once you get a taste of its deep, earthy flavors, this Estonian classic could become your new cozy-meal obsession. Why not give it a try? On a chilly night, heat up a pot of põde – your belly and taste buds will thank you.


Põde is an Estonian stew that originated in southern Estonia, particularly in Viljandi County. Põde is usually made from pork, potatoes, sauerkraut or green cabbage, and onions. It is seasoned with bay leaves, black pepper, and salt.

To make põde, cut pork into cubes and season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat in a Dutch oven, then add sliced onions, cubed potatoes, and shredded cabbage. Add enough water or stock to cover everything. Throw in a couple of bay leaves and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours until the meat is tender and flavors have blended. The long, slow cooking is what gives põde its characteristic rich and hearty taste. Stir occasionally while it’s simmering and add more liquid as needed.

Põde is meant to be a hearty, comforting dish for cold winter days. It is usually served with bread to soak up the flavorful broth. Some people like to add other veggies such as carrots, parsnips or turnips. Cream or sour cream is also commonly served on the side.

Põde is similar to other cabbage and potato stews found throughout Northern and Eastern Europe, but the blend of spices and long simmering time give it a unique Estonian character. This rustic stew is a classic example of Estonian comfort food at its finest. Try making a pot of põde – your family is sure to love this delicious and satisfying meal!

The Origins and History of Põde

Põde (pronounced “po-deh”) has a long and rich history in Estonian culture. This traditional Estonian stew dates back to the 19th century, when potatoes were first introduced to Estonia. As potatoes became more common, they were incorporated into traditional Estonian cuisine.

The Origins

Põde originated as a hearty dish to provide sustenance during long, cold winters. Potatoes, which were cheap, starchy, and filling, were combined with affordable cuts of meat like pork, beef, or lamb. The ingredients were simmered for hours until the meat became fall-apart tender.

Over time, põde has become strongly associated with comfort, warmth and family. It is most often eaten in winter, especially around Christmas time. No two families make põde exactly alike – recipes are passed down through generations and closely guarded. Some versions use cream or butter to make the stew richer, while others add mushrooms, carrots or barley.

A Cultural Tradition

Today, põde remains an integral part of Estonian food culture and national identity. Estonians abroad often make it to cure homesickness or share a taste of home with friends. Põde can be found on the menus of traditional Estonian restaurants, where it is considered a classic national dish.

Whether made with beef, pork or lamb, creamy or clear, põde is the ultimate Estonian comfort food. This hearty stew, simmered to perfection and shared with loved ones, encapsulates all the warmth and nostalgia of Estonia.

How Põde Is Played

Põde is an exciting traditional Estonian folk game that is fun for all ages. To play Põde, here’s what you’ll need:

The Equipment

  • A smooth wooden board with a handle on one end, called a põde board
  • Smooth wooden pieces in two different colors, traditionally black and white
  • A dice

The Objective

The goal of Põde is to move all of your color pieces around the board and get them into your home territory, which are the last four spaces on your side of the board. The first player to get all their pieces into home territory wins!

How to Play

To start, place all the pieces on the board in a line on each side. One player takes the light pieces, the other takes the dark pieces.

  1. Roll the dice to see who goes first. The player with the highest roll starts.
  2. Roll the dice again to determine how many spaces you can move one of your pieces. Move it either forward or backward.
  3. On your next turn, you must move a different piece. You continue alternating between pieces on each turn.
  4. If your piece lands on a space occupied by an opponent’s piece, their piece is bumped off the board and must start over. But be careful – the same thing can happen to your piece!
  5. Once you get a piece into your home territory, it cannot be bumped off. But your opponents can still move past it.
  6. The first player to get all of their pieces into their home territory wins!

Põde is a game of both skill and luck that encourages problem-solving and critical thinking. No wonder it has remained popular for generations. Give it a try and you’ll be hooked in no time!

Põde Equipment and Rules

To play Põde, you’ll need some basic equipment and to follow a few simple rules.


The equipment for Põde is simple. You’ll need:

  • A ball – Typically a rubber playground ball, basketball or volleyball.
  • Cones or markers – To designate the playing area and goals. Traffic cones, plastic bottles or other objects can be used.
  • Optional – Team uniforms or pinnies to differentiate teams.


The rules of Põde are easy to pick up but take practice to master. The basic rules are:

  1. Two teams of equal players. Teams typically have 5-10 players each.
  2. A rectangular playing area with a goal at each end. The goals can be marked by cones about 6 to 8 feet apart.
  3. Players can only touch the ball with their feet, head or chest. No hands!
  4. Players advance the ball by kicking it to a teammate without it being intercepted by the other team.
  5. Teams try to score by kicking the ball through the opponent’s goal.
  6. No tripping, pushing or slide tackling. Only shoulder-to-shoulder contact is allowed.
  7. If the ball goes out of bounds, the team that did not kick it out gets possession.
  8. Offside is not called in Põde. Players can be anywhere on their half of the field.
  9. Teams switch ends at halftime. The game is made up of two 15 to 25 minute halves.
  10. Most fouls result in an indirect free kick for the opposing team. Direct free kicks are awarded for intentional fouls.
  11. No charging or obstructing the goalkeeper within the goal area.

The team with the most goals at the end of regulation time wins! Follow these rules, get some practice in, and you’ll be playing Põde in no time. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Where to Play Põde Competitively and Recreationally

Once you’ve learned the basics of how to play põde, it’s time to find others to play with. Põde is popular as both a competitive and recreational game in Estonia.

Competitive Play

Competitive põde tournaments are held throughout Estonia, especially in the summer months. Teams compete for cash prizes and the title of põde champion. The largest annual tournament is the Harju County Põde Championship. Teams from all over the county gather to show off their skills. Other annual tournaments include the Tallinn Põde Cup and the Põlva Põde Tournament.

To compete, you’ll need to join an established põde team or form your own team of 4 to 6 players. Teams require both offensive and defensive players with a variety of skills like accurate shooting, blocking, and ball handling. Practice together regularly to develop teamwork and strategies before entering any competitions.

Recreational Play

For casual games, check with your local community center, sports club or youth organization. Many offer weekly or monthly recreational põde matches, especially in the warmer months. This is a great way to learn the game at your own pace, get some exercise and meet other põde enthusiasts in your area.

Schools will often organize põde matches or small tournaments as an extracurricular activity. If põde isn’t currently offered, talk to your physical education teacher or school administrators about starting a team. Põde is a fun, traditional game that people of all ages can enjoy.

You can also organize your own recreational põde matches with family, friends and neighbors. All you need is a ball, four markers to designate the playing area, and willing participants. Set up the playing area in a backyard, open field or sports court and you’re ready to play. Keep it casual, focus on fun, and be willing to teach beginners how to play. Põde is meant to bring people together.

In summary, põde can be enjoyed both competitively and for recreation all over Estonia. Check with local organizations for competitive and recreational playing opportunities or organize your own casual matches. The most important part is getting outside, being active and connecting with community.


So there you have it, the basics about the traditional Estonian folk dance known as Põde. Even though it originated centuries ago, Põde remains an important part of Estonian culture and national identity today. The lively yet intricate steps, the colorful traditional outfits, and the energetic folk music all combine to create a spectacle like no other. Now that you know more about the history, costumes, and choreography of Põde, you can fully appreciate its artistry and impact next time you see it performed. Põde is a dance that brings joy to both the performers and the audience, allowing Estonians to celebrate their rich cultural heritage. Maybe it will even inspire you to kick up your heels and join in the fun!

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