Let’s first locate the Balkans and tell something more about it’s cuisine.
This peninsula is located in Southeastern Europe and it is named after the mountains Balkans that are located in various countries in this area , and include a few countries more apart from it. That means, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, FYR Macedonia.
This cuisine has it’s features in mixture of Oriental and Mediterranean influences which makes this cuisine very spicy. One the most used spices are smoked paprika, chilli, peper, garlic, onion, bay leaf , rosemary and many others. So this is a paradise for hot food-lovers’ mouth.
The ingredients and foodstuff is always fresh and mostly organic so this cuisine is made of one of healthiest food in Europe. There is a wide range of appetizers, main dishes, deserts and sweets. The food is strong and includes various types of meat (beef, pork, lamb), then fresh vegetables, milk products such as cheese, sour cream, ‘’kajmak’’ ( very typical for this region) , yogurts. This is because in the old times in these countries the population was bigger in the countryside. The peasants had to work in the fields and with the livestock so they needed high calorie food. Nonetheless, this food is delicious and it is colored with strong colors, smells and flavors.
1. Sarma- this dish is typical serbian but the word comes originally from the turkish word ‘’sarmasik’’ and it is made of pickled cabbage, rice and mince. There is a vegetarian version of rice with a little bit of carrots but the process of making it is the same. So, it is made of leaves of cabbage stuffed with lightly cooked rice and meat. The leaves are being rolled and when it’s stuffed then slowly cooked in the broth for two hours. That is just enough time for the rice ad mince to be fully cooked and to suck in all the juices and spices like peper, smoked paprika , bay leaf. In the broth there is bit of smoked pork or ribs to flavor the broth and the rolls as well.This dish goes well with cheese or kajmak ( it is like cheese cream but lighter and it essentially milk fat raised when the milk is boiled and then left to cool, sometimes for days). This is mainly winter dish because it very strong and tasty and because of the cabbage that is pickled and stored for the winter.
2. Chevapi- This balkan version of barbecue become popular and because you can eat it on the go, slowly turned into a street food that you can buy in every corner. As well as the ‘’pljeskavica’’ (burger) , the same but only of different shape. It made of mince (grounded pork mainly but it varies from country to country, it can be beef or lamb) This dish combines grill with other dips like ketchup, mayonnaise, kajmak, sour cream, then fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, onion, lettuce, cabbage or other put in the soft baked bread. Of course, if you prefer it hotter you can add some chilli flakes, or garlic sauce to make it more spicy. The Bosnian version of this dish has the highest reputation of them all.
3. Stuffed peppers- basically it is similar to ‘’sarma’’ , only that these are stuffed bell peppers with all the same ingredients. The process of making is similar just it takes less time for the peppers to be cooked. The rice and the mince are cooked on the stove first and then when the peppers are stuffed, cooked in the oven. This dish goes well with cheese, sour cream but mostly with Balkan version of the yogurt which is more liquid than the regular one.
4. Palacinke – this Balkan version of pancakes is mostly a desert but can vary depending of stuffing. The pancakes are thinner and sometimes filled with sweet creams sometimes with all the ingredients you would put in a pizza. Usually they are prepared with very sweet creams and toppings and is definitely top favorite food in the Balkans. Not only that you can prepare it at home or find it in the restaurants and snack bars , you can buy it on the street, so it is a street food as well. Very popular among kids and younger population , but others consume it as well.
5. Ratluk- this sweet and the recipe is originally turkish but it was spread all over the Balkan region since in the past the Ottoman empire included all the mentioned countries , so the Turks left this recipe to other people in the Balkans. It is made of sugar that is dissolved with the starch, adding all kinds of syrups and pieces of nuts or almonds. The result is very, very soft sweet cubes that almost melt in your mouth. The texture and the flavor of the is very delicate, so it is a true pleasure consuming this sweet. The most popular is with rose flavor. In the Balkans it is served with coffee but you can eat it just as you wish.