Gastronomy of Serbia

Serbian /unbeatable and irresistible/ cuisine is spectacularly savory, tremendously flavorful and tastefully stimulating to the appetite, often regarded as “the best food in the world”. Serbian gastronomy is derived from mixed traditions mostly influenced by the neighboring Mediterranean /especially Greek/, Hungarian, Turkish, Bulgarian and Austrian cuisines, what makes it a very heterogeneous one. Meat /especially grilled, baked or roasted meat/, herbs /peppers, basil, horse radish, dill…/ and vegetables are used in abundance in Serbian cuisine and one-dish meat meals occupy an important place in the collection of recipes. Serbian dishes are very nourishing, inexpensive and easy to prepare. Serbs enjoy cooking, often modifying old Serbian recipes or creating new delicious dishes…

 

Most people in Serbia will have three meals daily, breakfast, lunch and dinner, with lunch being the largest. However, traditionally in Serbia only lunch and dinner existed, which was/is practiced in monasteries and Nikola Tesla wrote “that it is normal to have two meals per day” so breakfast was introduced in the second half of the 19th century. A number of meals which are simply bought in the West are often prepared at home in Serbia as autochthonous dishes for regular meals. Those include kajmak, ayvar, smoked ham, smoked beef, rakija /fruit brandy/, corn-bread /proja/, beans, jam, slatko – jelly, various pickled food, notably sauerkraut /sarma, kiseli kupus – pickled cabbage, cabbage casserole/ and even sausages. Basil is favorite and greatly used in preparation of food in Serbia, and it goes along when many important customs are performed. Bunch of basil is used in various cases, when the priest bless us or to decorate the Slava cake, or as a gift for a girlfriend … The reasons for this range from economical to cultural.
Due to turbulent history of the Balkans and majority of Orthodox population nowadays “charming” and almost forgotten customs of food preparation in open fire and hearth still exists in Serbia. This common feature in Serbia comes as the remembrance of family gatherings in central part of the house for celebrations on religious holidays /Family patron Saint slava that is only celebrated in Serbia/ and Sundays. The result is the most memorable savory Serbian “rostilj” /well-known “cevapcici” served in irresistible portions – rolling around the country and greeting every visitor of Serbia. Cevapcici is desirable spicy chopped /minced/ meat mixed with garlic, paprika and onion grilled on charcoal grill. What a suicide attempt for a romantic evening or a huge assembly, isn’t’ it? Anyhow “rostilj” is widely popular throughout Serbia and strongly recommended to every guest ! Slow home-made cooking in covered ceramics /pots/ over fire of ingredients grown in private gardens on farms or every-day supply from the green markets /meat, wheat, vegetables, herbs, spices…/ is the part of Serbian tradition and pride. ….
”Lot of meals are prepared only on water thanks to fasting that is often habit of Serbs /winter and summer religious fasting, non-fat food days on Wednesdays and Fridays obeying different rules regarding the fast – when fish is eaten, when food prepared with oil or dishes only cooked in water/. “Orthodoxy, in contrast to modern Western civilization, does not preach enjoying in general, neither enjoying food, as a value. Excessive food enjoyment is considered a great sin, primarily as it links us to things of this world, taking away from us already endangered freedom. However, preparation of food and common meals in respect of God gifts, making special efforts for the benefit of others and unselfish sharing may be considered as an unique practical school of love. Fast, as a specific self-discipline suggested to us by the Orthodox Church, helps us, together with prayer, to turn to God – to God who gifted us with everything that surrounds us, while we do not have much to give in return. Renouncing, be it a basic one /food of animal origin/ is the expression of respect, and together with renouncing selfish and bad deeds, a common exercise in our love for God and surprising the nature as an absolute power over us.” /quotation from “Consecration of Time” – “Esnaf” Serbia/.
Slava – patron saint is divine form of Orthodoxy, which is so deeply inborn into the Serbian traditional soul. Slava is special feature of the Serbian nation because it is celebrated only among Orthodox Serbs. The Deep sense of celebrating slava lies in the most enlighten ideal of the Serbian nation – the ideal of the holy man which is : man free from the earthen life, the man clean from injustice and vanity, the man fulfilled with love towards God and people, the man fearless to death, in one word – the soulful man !
The occasion of slava brings all of the family together, and a feast is normally prepared, including traditional foods: “slavski kolač” and “koljivo”. “Slavski kolač” literally means “the Slava cake”, although it is actually more similar to bread., because it is clear, the bread symbolizes the gathering together of the entire community. Depending on whether the celebration falls during fasting, “slavski kolač” is prepared with or without eggs, butter and milk.
The top of the kolač is adorned with the sign of the Cross the “Dove of Peace” and other symbols that relate to the family. “Koljivo” (also called “žito”) is made of boiled wheat. It can be prepared in a variety of ways but most usually includes walnuts, nutmegs and/or cloves and honey.
The wheat is a symbol of the Resurrection of Christ and deceased family members. Depending on whether the celebration falls in a period of fasting, the rest of the feast consists of animal-free (posni) meals or not (mrsni); thus, colloquially, slavas can be referred to as “mrsne” or ” posne”.
On the day of the slava, the family attends church services and partakes in the Holy Communion. Following the service, the parish priest is received in the family’s home. He performs a small service which entails venerating the Saint’s memory, blessing the slavski kolač and koljivo, as well as lighting the “slava candle”. Though not necessary, it is common for the priest to bless the house and perform a small memorial service for dead relatives.

The most common feast days in Serbia are St. Nicholas /falling on December 19/, St. George (May 6, Djurdjevdan/, St. John the Baptist /January 20/, St. Demetrius /November 8/ and St. Michael /November 21/. Serbian Orthodox Church uses Julian calendar. Julian calendar remained in use until the 20th century as the national calendar, especially in the Orthodox countries, but it was changed into the new version of the Gregorian calendar. Still it is used in some national Orthodox churches among them is the Serbian Orthodox Church, The Holy Mount Athos in Greece and Berberi in the South Africa. In Serbia which used to respect Julian calendar as the official calendar according to the tradition of the Serbian Orthodox Church the New Year on the 31st December was first celebrated in 1919 when King Aleksandar Karadjordjevic accepted the Gregorian calendar as the national calendar.

BBC News Serb Families honour their saints with slava celebrations

Food preparation is a strong part and the pride of the Serbian family tradition and thus You will have exquisite gourmet experiences while traveling with PANACOMP. We are happy to know and partner with the best places to eat in Serbia, and also proud to organize unbeatable culinary courses-tours !!!

Here are recipes for some exiting Serbian typical meals. Enjoy and “Prijatno” !

AJVAR  /ayvar/

Ayvar – ajvar /ayvar/ is very tasteful Serbian relish – very popular roasted eggplant-sweet-pepper mixture made principally from red bell peppers, with eggplant, garlic and chili pepper. Ayvar is predominantly popular in the Balkans and found throughout. Depending on content in bell peppers and the amount of added chili peppers, ayvar can be sweet, piquant /the most common/ or very hot. Ajvar can be consumed as a bread spread, an addition in sandwiches, condiment /often used with grilled or roasted meat/, as an appetizer or salad. The name ajvar comes from Turkish havyar, which means salted roe. Preparation of ajvar is somewhat difficult, as it involves plenty of manual labor, especially for peeling. Traditionally, it is prepared in early autumn, when the bell peppers are most abundant, conserved in glass jars, and consumed throughout the year /although in most households stocks don’t last up until spring, when fresh salads start to emerge anyway, so it’s usually enjoyed as winter food/.
The peppers and eggplants are baked whole on a plate on open fire, plate of a wood stove, or in the oven. Baked peppers must briefly rest in a closed dish, so that they get cooler and the flesh sets apart from the skin. Then, the skin is carefully hand peeled off and seeds removed. So obtained pepper is ground in a mill or chopped in tiny pieces /this variant is often referred to as pinđur/. Finally, the mush is stewed for a couple of hours in large pots, with added sunflower oil and garlic, in order to condense and reduce the water, as well as to enhance later conservation. Salt and optional vinegar are added at the end and the hot mush is poured directly into glass jars which are immediately sealed. This mild, piquant vegetable spread goes perfectly with breads (we recommend French baggette), cheese and crackers, white meats, fish, or as a side dish all by itself. The best ajvar is produced domestically, as only the manual peeling and seed removal ensures clear taste without slightly bitter influence of the pepper skin. Industrial production of ayvar in Serbia is pretty modest; reported annual Serbian production of ajvar is 640 tons.

Belmuž – the Mountainous way /recorded by  Miroslav Mladenović, local ethnologist

Belmuz is shepherds’ meal and delicious traditional food of the Eastern Serbia. In the course of Saint George’s Days /Djurđevdanski dani/, one day before the Saint George’s Day /Đurđevština/ in the mountainous villages of Vlasotince and Crna Trava, locals pick up flowers, make coronals, prepare belmuz and lambs stop sucking. On the day of Premlaz lambs stop sucking and milking of sheep starts. This date of shepherds in this region is celebrated on the very place of celebration of the St. George’s Day by preparing belmuz from sheep milk and corn-flour in this way : In groups of mountainous hamlets in the sheep are milked in evening and prepared in cheese. That non-salted cheese is put into the kettle over the open fire and boiled while stirring with wooden spoon and adding white or corn-flour and salt. Belmuz is ready when water is evaporated. Such mushy mass – belmuž after cooking over fire is served on the meadow or on the table in the house. This is how the day of shepherds and beginning of milking sheep was celebrated until autumn.
This recipe is unique in the South Serbia and existed in villages of Zaplanje – the foothill of Suva Planina Mt. It can be prepared in the same way on wood stoves. Put cheese in the pot with thick bottom and cook it on medium temperature while stirring until mass is melted. Add flour and stir until fat comes up to the surface. You will get mass similar to kacamak /palenta/ but more gentle. Eat at once while it is warm and spreads wonderful smells…
Serving
To prepare good belmuž you really need the first class white cheese which must not be older than 2 days… It is assumed in South Serbia that if male eats belmuz he becomes beautiful until old age when his hair is gray...
Ingredients : 1 kg of young, non-salted, cheese /best if sheep cheese used/, 400 gr of corn-flour, not palenta

Ancient Belmuz recipe – the way of Sredor village – recorded by Savic Aleksandra and Miroslav Mladenovic
Ingredients : 1 liter of milk, 200 gr of young cheese, 10 gr of solt. You put all into copper kettle over the fire and stir with wooden spoon. When mass is cooked add corn flour. When mass becomes mushy pour it into the copper pot and leave in cool place. When cold cut into pieces and serve together with other dishes. Performed by Savic Slavica (60 years) village of Sredor

Belmuz recipe – the way of Kalna village – recorded by Miroslav Mladenović local ethnologist
First you make soup of sremuš – wild garlic /found at the altitude over 800 meters/ and add salt. Add sheep milk and young cheese and corn-flour. Mix all thoroughly with the wooden spoon over the fire place until evaporated. Belmuz is eaten when cold. Belmuz can be prepared on wood stoves. Mountainous plant sremus that can be found at the altitude over 800 meters gives belmuz special flavor. Belmuz is prepared in mountainous villages before the Djurdjevdan – Saint George’s Day, after which locals start milking sheep and cows. Record from the village of Kalna – Crna Trava.

Bundevara /Pumpkin Pie/

Pastry ingredients and preparation of the Pumpkin Pie : 500 gr flour, 1 egg, Salt

Filling : 500 gr pumpkin meat/cut into strings/, 250 gr sugar, 2-3 spoons of sunflower oil or fat, Some vanilla and cinnamon powder, Some milk, 300 gr cream fraise

Preparation : Knead the pastry of flour, egg and some water /if needed/, make 2 or 3 pieces and leave it to rest for some time. Knead the pastry again and make thin pastry peels, adding little oil. Put the filling on every peel, adding some milk and oil. Roll it and put into greased baking pan. Dress with cream fraiche and bake until golden brown.

ĆEVAPI /ćevapčići/ Roštilj -grill

Ćevapčići – ćevapi is the name of the very popular dish in the Balkans, and belongs to a favorite larger food group of rostilj – Serbian grilled meat. Cevapi or cevapcici are small grilled rolls of minced meat (in Bosnia of beef and lamb; or pork and beef in Serbia and Macedonia). Cevapčići are usually served on the plate or in lepinja in Serbia, or somun in Bosnia with chopped onions, kajmak, cottage cheese, etc. The name ćevapčići originates from the Turkish kebab.
It is believed that the best Serbian ćevapi /ćevapčići/ are made in the city of Leskovac, made from 100% beef, served in lepinja. They say that the only proper way of grilling ćevapčići is to use glowing coals beneath a grill, and the distance between the grooves must be exactly eight millimeters. The both expressions ćevapčići and ćevapi are common in Serbia. In other parts of Serbia cevapcici are often made of both pork and beef.
In Bosnia, Ćevapi is a dish commonly associated with the area comprising the former Yugoslavia. Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular is widely recognized as the republic most associated with Ottoman-influenced food such as ćevapi. Some of the locations in Bosnia known for their great ćevapi include the Baščaršija district in Sarajevo and Banja Luka. Banja Luka’s ćevapi are multiple rolls /usually four/ joined together. Some prefer the Macedonian variant kebapi /since they’re made of both pork and beef. The dish ćevapčići which usually comes in 5-10 pieces is served only with white bread, minced red pepper, salt and onions. The old Turkish bazaars in Skopje, Bitola, as well as in the rest of Macedonia, are traditional locations to get a desetka /a 10 piece dish/. In the ’60s the word ćevapčići and the dish spread on the Adriatic coastline. Starting from ’70s ćevapčići has also become a popular fast food, both in the Balkans, the United States and Europe.

Cheese Rolls – Cheese Loaf – Strudel

Ingredients for pastry : 10 gr of yeast, 3 eggs yolks, 200 gr of fat, 1 spoon of sugar, 1 small spoon of salt,  3 dl of milk, 500 gr flour

Fill: there are salt and sweet fillings in preparation of the Cheese Loaf
Salt filling :  500gr of young cheese, salt, 2-3 eggs
Sweet filling :  500gr of young cheese, sugar, raisins
Preparation of cheese rolls and cheese loaf : melt yeast in 1dcl of warm milk with sugar. When fermented mix it with flour, eggs yolks and fat to make gentle pastry. Cut pastry in 3 parts and thin them using rolling pin. Cover pastry with filling /it is important to do it instantly, before fermentation/. Put rolled pastry into pan fitted with baking paper. Leave loaf for about one hour to ferment and become twice larger. Bake loaf at the temperature of 180 C until brown.

Similar process is performed in preparation of Strudel – the famous sweets in Vojvodina, which comes with a number of fillings – nuts, poppy, cherry, jam… You will find Strudel served in many occasions and places in Vojvodina, and will surely enjoy its mouthwatering taste… The preparation of Strudel is part of the memorable culinary courses we organize !

Conserve /Fruit Jelly/ – Slatko

Sladko or slatko  – fruit jelly can be made of any kind of fruits and represents the unique delicacy in Serbia. Above all slatko is exceptional hospitality custom in Serbia and makes a part of welcoming to someone’s home. The word “slatko” refers to a number of special jams that belong to Balkan cooking as well as to Jewish cooking. Traditionally, these jams are served on a small glass plate together with a teaspoon and a glass of water. Slatko is different from the European type of jam, because when preparing Slatko, the sugar is first boiled to make a kind of syrup, and the fruit is only added later on.
In the preparation of Slatko, many ingredients are used that are not common in traditional European jam. For example, in Eastern Jewish cooking, there are variants where radish is boiled in honey. Slatko can also be made from carrots or beet roots. In Serbia slatko helps anyone starting the successful day !

Duvan čvarci /Cracklings/

Duvan cvarci /cracklings/ are “noble form” of the classic hard cvarci – cracklings, that used to be the only food for poor people, made from parts of fattened pigs by melting fats. Duvan cvarci – cracklings are the crisp residue left after long period of cooking /6 – 8 hours/ and melting fat until decomposed and got golden brown color. Cracklings are then salted and become crispy. Pork cracklings are very tasty and are usually used (served warm or cold as the part of a meal) as a delicious snack, added to kaymak, cheese, salads and fresh bread for true Serbian style meal.

Fruits of Serbia

Harmonic flavors of unbeatable fresh fruits of Serbia are used in so many different ways : as delicious desert, natural fresh juice, sort of wine, brandy, extruded fruits but also as jam, marmalade or conserve. Special taste and flavors of raspberry, wild strawberry, blackberry, cranberry, apple, plum, peach, apricot and other sorts of fruits grown in Serbia are widely recognized and reputed !

Gibanica – Cheese pie

Gibanica is Serbian traditional favorite phyllo pastry dish, and “Queen” of most homes. Gibanica is usually prepared of several varieties of cheese and some kajmak. It is best if made of homemade thin layers of dough, although store-bought dough is as good. Other varieties and related dishes of gibanica can also be found in surrounding countries of the Balkans, most notably Macedonia and Bulgaria where it is usually called banitza as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Croatia. Gibanica is one of the most popular and recognizable dishes in Serbia. Gibanica is prepared most often for festive occasions or simply as a comforting family snack. Gibanica is most commonly made with a plenty of eggs and mild and strong cheeses, like cottage cheese, Feta cheese as well as kajmak. Other varieties of the gibanitza – delicious Serbian brand – are made of spinach, meat or potatoes, nettles and onions.

Pešter Plateau is famous for its delicious dairy products, especially the “Sjenica cheese” (Sjenički sir) that is traditionally produced in the special autochtonous way, as well as lamb smoked beef or sheep. There are some specialties that can be found only in Pešter, such is the jardum – thick yoghurt of sheep milk, or the Sjenički sudžuk – Sjenica sujuk or dishes prepared with buckwheat, with lots of love and joy.

Heljdopita – Buckwheat Pie

Finest quality of cow milk and extensive breed of milking cows, which freely live on vast pastures of Zlatar Mountain, guarantee excellent quality of full fat milk, which in the process of ripening and fermentation provide recognizable and uniquely autochtonous Zlatar cheese – which belongs to a group of white semi-hard cheeses. The Zlatar cheese is one of the most famous autochthnous dairy products from Serbia and protected brand of Nova Varos region with intense and favorable features, that can not be forged. There are around ten registered traditional cheese manufacturers in Nova Varos region, whose manufactured cheese quality excites visitors of Zlatar and consumers.

The buckwheat in SW Serbia pie is one of the most favorite snack of our clients, which tastes wonderfully in the pure environment, and surroundings of the friendly and hospitable locals….

Kajmak – kaymak

Kajmak /KAYMAK/ is Serbian autochtonous  creamy dairy product similar to clotted cream. Kajmak is produced all over the Middle East, Southeast Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Turkey. Kajmak is made from milk of water buffaloes in East or cows in West. Kaymak is “must” in Serbia ate as starter or within the main dish. The traditional method of making kaymak is to boil the milk slowly, then simmer for two hours over a very low heat. After the heat source is shut off, the cream is skimmed and left to chill /and mildly ferment/ for several hours or days. It has a high percentage of milk fat, typically about 60%. Kajmak has thick, creamy consistence /but not entirely compact due to milk protein fibers/ and rich, mildly sour taste /depending on how long it matured/. Kaymak is traditionally eaten in Serbia as starter with smoked ham, pastries, preserves or honey or as a filling in pancakes. Kaymak is almost always produced in traditional way in households and can be bought only on open markets; industrial production of kajmak is low and not as good quality as homemade. The best brands of kajmak come from mountainous cattle farms. The most famous location of kajmak production in Serbia are Zlatibor Mountain and the area of the southwest Serbia.
Kajmak is usually enjoyed as an appetizer, but also as a condiment. The simplest recipe is lepinja sa kajmakom /fresh raw bread filled with kajmak/ consumed for breakfast or as fast food. Serbs, Montenegrins, Bosnians and Macedonians consider it a national meal. Other traditional dishes with kajmak include “pljeskavica sa kajmakom” /Serbian version of hamburger patty topped with melted kajmak/, as well as “ribić u kajmaku” /beef leg slowly simmered with kajmak/.

Kiseli kupus  – Serbian Sauerkraut /Cabbage Casserole/

This is real spicy cabbage delicacy. Ingredients : 3 kg sauerkraut / small cabbages/, 1 kg beef, cut into chunks, 2 pig’s trotters, cut into pieces, 1 pig’s ear cut into pieces, 200 g smoked sliced bacon, 300 g pig’s ribs, 3 chopped onions, 4 red de-seeded and sliced peppers, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, 2 tbsp chopped coriander, salt and black pepper
Preparation of Serbian Sauerkraut : Rinse the cabbage thoroughly and remove outer leaves. Core each cabbage, cut into 8 wedges, then again into three pieces. In a large earthenware casserole layer cabbage with meat, onions, parsley, coriander and black pepper. Repeat until all ingredients are used up, finishing off with cabbage. Add cold water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer half covered for several hours. It is said that the best cabbage casserole is the slowly cooked one in clay pots during the Guca Brass Festival !

Knedle sa šljivama – Plum dumplings /Noodles stuffed with plums/

Knedle sa šljivama /Plum dumplings – noodles with plums/ is sweet is strongly connected with childhood and memories on our grandmothers that is not to be missed…

Ingredients : ½ kg of potato, 2 eggs, flour, oil or fat, bread crumb, sugar
Preparation of Plum Dumplings : Stir flour and scrambled eggs and cooked and smashed potato with some water to make dough. Thin pastry and cut it in pieces about 10 cm large. Fill noodles with pitted plum and roll it in small ball. Cook noodle-balls in salted water for 10 – 15 minutes and roll them in mixture of sugar and bread crumb. Serve and eat noodles with plums warm.

Komplet lepinja – homemade bread with various fillings – kaymak, smoked ham or smoked beef, sausage….

Favorite and unavoidable meal in SW Serbia, with various options of fillings : kaymak, smoked ham, smoked beef, sausage, only what remains from roasting meat….

Kulen

Kulen is type of flavored /usually hot/ sausage made of minced pork, that is traditionally produced in Vojvodina and Slavonia. The meat is low-fat, and the flavor is rather spicy. The red paprika gives kulen the aroma and color, while other spices used are black pepper and garlic. The meat is stuffed and pressed into bags made of swine intestine, and made into pieces that are usually around ten centimeters in diameter, and up to three times as long, weighing around a kilogram. The pieces of kulen are smoked for several months with only certain types of wood. After the smoking they are air-dried for several months. This process can last up to a year.
When the kulen meat is stuffed into the smaller intestine it is narrower and requires less smoking and drying, but it also gets done quicker. The traditional time of producing kulen is during the svinjokolj – the slaughtering of pigs – performed every autumn by most of households in Serbia /if not all rural households/. The kulen matures during the coming winter and can be eaten even then /hundred, and has a pretty hot taste/ and is edible in the summer, remaining edible for up to two years.

Musaka – Potato Moussaka

Ingredients :  2 kg of potato,  500 g minced meat /mixture of beef and pork/,  1 onion,  2 garlic,  1 carrot,  50 g tomato concentrate, 3 dl of oil, salt, pepper,  some muscat flavor and few parsley
Potato musaka cover : 4 eggs, 50 g flavor, 1 sour cream, 1 dl milk, 1 dl mineral water

Although moussaka is regarded in EU countries to be the Greek dish it is usually prepared in the Balkans and the Near East. Bake onion and garlic in greased pan. Add meat and stir. When it is ready add salt, pepper, flavor and spices and continue stirring. Add tomato and some soup and continue cooking. Add muscat flavor and leave it on small temperature for 30 minutes. Prepare potato until sauce is cooked. Cut potato into round pieces. Bake it in oil until brown and take it out from oil. In large dish put one layer of potato and pour sauce over it. Put potato at the top and finish it with over of eggs and cream and water. Bake it in oven for 20 minutes. Cut it in pieces and turn back to oven for baking for 20 more minutes. When ready put parsley over moussaka and serve it warm with fresh salad.

Pasulj /Serbian Beans

Pasulj (Serbian Beans) is one of the most popular traditional dishes in Serbia. In Serbia pasulj comes in many different ways, such as a broth or a soup, a vegetarian version or an “army” version. Pasulj is cooked with onion, bay leaves, red paprika, black pepper and meat, such as diced bacon or smoked spare-ribs. Pasulj is thickened with browned flour to finish with. In Serbia pasulj is usually served with kobasica (sausage), krmenadla (pork chop) or some smoked meat. You really should get a salad to eat with pasulj – we recommend sweet cabbage or roast peppers in oil, with a sprinkling of garlic. Beer or a white wine spritzer goes hand in hand with this favorite Serbian dish. When dried while cooked beans are oven-baked, and get special taste and mood such is pasulj prebranac which is also favorite Serbs’ traditional dish. Pasulj prebranac is ideal for fasting period and can be served both hot baked in clay pot or cold as genuine starter. …

Pršuta – Smoked Ham or Smoked Beef

Air-dried delicacies from Serbia /smoked ham, smoked beef, smoked bacon and other sorts of smoked meat/ are widely respected and found in almost every house and restaurant. There are many reasons for this, mostly practical /no refrigerators and electricity in remote places and others/, but today is every visitor greeted with kind of specially selected and smoked peace of meat /pork, beef, sheep…/ and enjoy in the memorable taste and flavor…

The main vegetation formations of Stara Planina Mountain are forests, shrub vegetation, grasslands (cutting meadows and grazing pastures) and bog plant associations. Famous delicious pirotski kackavalj, which used to reach the Sultan table in the past, usually comes from milk of the two indigenous Stara Planina sheep breeds – pirotska pramenka and pirotska pramenka oplemenena, /Pirot sheep improved/ selected by local breeders over the centuries. The archives tell us that the nomadic and pastoral Tsintsars – Aromunen contributed to the modernization of Serbia with the technique of kaškavalj cheese production. This region had in the past relatively strong rural economy based on sheep and goat dairy products and livestock production used to be functional part of the West Stara Planina agro-ecological landscape. Indigenous sheep, goat, cattle flocks and traditional extensive farming systems shaped for centuries the valleys, meadows, pastures, forests and the culture of the various Balkan ethnic groups in the Stara Planina Mountain. The meat and diary products of those breeds are part of the tradition and have very high value because of their excellent nutritional qualities. Pirotski kackavalj or Staroplaninski kackavalj is manufactured traditionally by soaking of mature cheese (baskija) and hand making a wheel of cheese. Ripening and salting of cheese in the climate conditions of Stara Planina Mt, gave recognizable taste of the renown Pirotski kachkavalj – featuring mark of the protected geographic origin for domestic and international market.

Pirotska peglana kobasica /Pirot pressed Sausage/ is the unique smoked delicacy of Pirot and the SE Serbia prepared of non-fat meat /goat or veal or the Busha – original species of sheep of Stara Planina Mountain /from the elevation of 1800 meters/. There are several producers of the Pirotska peglana Kobasica – the Pirot pressed Sausage /which became brand of Serbia/, each of them with secret technique and recipe of its preparation, that has been maintained and kept for generations. Visitors are excited to experience the unique taste of the Pirot peglana kobasica – the Pirot pressed Sausage, and keen to learn how much work goes into getting it to the point of consumption.

Proja – Serbian dish of corn /known as corn bread/

General recipe for proja. It is very easy and takes short time to prepare a good tasty proja /corn bread/. Ingredients : 5 cups corn flour, 3 cups flour, 3 eggs, 3 cups oil, 1 baking powder, 1 cup yogurt, 1 glass mineral water, 1 big slice cheese – crushed, salt

Preparation of proja /corn bread/: Mix it all together and bake in greased pan /it should be 5 cm high/ until golden. Best proja if served with kiseli kupus and pavlaka.

Proja sa koprivom – Corn Bread with nettles

This is favorite specialty in villagers’ lives in Serbia and very tasty and healthy food.

Ingredients : 300 gr of nettles, 500 gr of corn flour, 300 gr of young cheese, 3 eggs, 100 gr of oil, 1 pack of baking powder, salt

Preparation : Boil nettles for a while and then chop them into small pieces. Put them together with corn flour, mashed cheese, eggs, oil and baking powder and knead well. Use some mineral water if necessary to make it watery. Put a little oil in a pan and bake in oven on 220 C for about 30 minutes /until brown/. Serve it warm or cold /with yoghurt/.

Pihtije /aspic/

Pihtije are an aspic-like Serbian delicious dish. Pihtijas are generally made from low grade pork meat, such as the head, shank and/or hock. Some recipes also include smoked meat. Pihtije are commonly just one component of a traditional Serbian meal (or an starter), although they can be served as a main dish. They are usually accompanied by cold rakija (strong plum brandy šljivovica or apricot brandy is nice, but quince brandy can do as well) and turšija (cold pickled vegetables, usually horse-radish, bell peppers, hot peppers, green tomatoes and cabbage/sauerkraut). The recipe calls for the meat to be cleaned, washed and then boiled for a short time, no longer than 5-10 minutes. Then the water is changed, and vegetables and spices are added (usually pepper, bay leaves, onion, carrots, celery). This is cooked until the meat begins to separate from the bones by itself; then, the bones are removed, the meat stock is filtered and the meat and stock are poured into shallow bowls. Garlic is added, as well as thin slices of carrots or green peppers, or something similar for decoration. It is left to sit in a cold spot, such as a fridge or outside in cold weather (this is a traditional winter dish). It congeals into jelly and can be cut into cubes (it is often said that good pihtijas are “cut like glass”). These pihtije cubes can be sprinkled with dried ground red paprika (aleva paprika), as desired, before serving.

Pileća supa – Chicken Soup

Ingredients : 5 chicken quarters /about 600 g each/, 200 g chopped onions, 150 g sunflower oil or lard, 150 g tomatoes cut into wedges, 150g bell peppers cut into strips, 400 g cream fraiche, 30 g flour, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 garlic clove, crushed

Preparation of Chicken Stew : Sauté the onions and garlic until golden brown. Add chilly powder, chicken and little water. Simmer on low heat. Bring to the boil. Add tomatoes and peppers. When the meat is done, remove from the pan, bone and keep warm. Strain the juices through the sieve and pour over the meat, garnish with peppers and tomatoes. Serve the chicken soup with pasta or noodles.

Punjene paprike – Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers, Punjena paprika (Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro), Polneti piperki (Macedonia), Pulnena paprika/Pulneni chushki (Bulgaria) or Ardei umpluti (Romania) is a famous Balkan dish consisting of paprikas/peppers filled with mixture of meat and rice. There are many variations of stuffed peppers across the Balkans, and they are often on the menu throughout the year. When fasting, peppers are stuffed with beans or other variant of vegetable.

Ingredients : 12 red peppers, 1 small onion, 1 – 2 carrots, few cut mushrooms, 1 celery /cut in pieces/, 2 cups of soya beans or 1 cup of rice, 2 tomato, salt, pepper, oil, tomato juice or water

Preparation : Clean paprika, take out seed from them and put in big oven. Bake onion, mushrooms, celery and carrots in greased pan until brown. Add soya beans or rice and afterward salt and pepper and join all to fill pepers. Finish tops of peppers with piece of tomato. Pour tomato juice or water over stuffed paprika and cook some half and hour on small temperature.

 

Sarma

Sarma is the name of flavor grape leaf or cabbage leaf roll common to Southeastern Europe and adjacent areas. It is traditionally prepared in Armenia, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, and in some other geographically and traditionally close countries. Sarma means “wrapping” or “rolling” in Turkish, and is similar to its cousin dolma. Minced meat /usually beef, pork, veal, or a combination thereof/, rice, onions, and various spices, including salt, pepper and various local herbs are mixed together and then rolled into large plant leaves, which may be cabbage, sauerkraut /most often in Serbia/, grape or broad-leaf plantain leaves. The combination is then cooked together with few pieces of smoked meat or beacon in boiling water for few hours. While specific recipes vary across the region, it is uniformly recognized that the best cooking method is slow boiling in large clay pots. A special ingredient, flour browned in fat, is often added at the end of the process. Vegetarian variants as well as those made with fish exist.
Unlike other eastern European cultures, the peoples of Southeastern Europe overwhelmingly use sour cabbage /pickled cabbage/ as opposed to fresh cabbage. It gives sarma unique savory taste. At the end of the autumn, families traditionally prepare the sour cabbage /as whole cabbage, or as individual leaves for sarma-making but also shredded that is used for other traditional Serbian dishes, among them podvarak is most popular/. Pickled cabbage is one of autochtonous specialty in Serbia which is used as salad in starters or cooked in sarma as the main dish. Another kind of sarma are those rolled in /grape/ vine leaves — smaller and with slightly different taste. Sarma prepared with pickled cabbage is normally a heavy dish /though families are increasingly using healthier options such as olive oil or other oils instead of the traditional pork fat/. Thus it is usually eaten during winter. Traditionally sarma is served along with polenta or potatoes, which are sometimes mashed. Other optional add-ons include sour cream, yogurt and horseradish. Cabbage rolls served in tomato sauce, though common in North America, are much less common in Southeastern Europe. Unlike its Polish or Ukrainian equivalents, the filling of sarma in Serbia is predominately meat, as opposed to rice—in fact, it is only in recent times that rice has been added to sarma. Originally sarma was made with barley. It is virtually impossible to make sarma for a small number of people, unless they are willing to help themselves to huge servings. Traditionally, a pot filled with sarma /sarmale/ is usually prepared for an entire family. Sarma is very popular /favorite/ dish in Serbia and often served as a one of the main dishes during wedding ceremonies.

Vegetables /povrće

Variety of colors and flavors – tomato, paprika, cabbage, gourds, onion, garlic… each one tells a different story, meaning and aroma. Above all healthy content of vegetables, regardless if fresh, cooked or fried, their importance is huge, and often used in the Serbian cuisine as main course or supplement.

Turšija – Preserves Pickled Vegetables /Pickled Salad/

In the Serbian households it is custom to prepare vegetables and fruits for winter period by thermic or other process adding special local spices. Localized and unavoidable, making pickled vegetables as the winter preserves is home made masterpiece with great taste and visual effect. Here you will enjoy eating pickled cabbage/sauerkraut, turšija – a mixture of pickled gherkins, peppers, green tomatoes, cauliflower and carrots, ayvar and other MEMORABLE pickled food.

Rakija  – HOME MADE BRANDY of Serbia

Fruits like plum, pear, quince, apple, apricot, peach, walnuts, grape-vine or other medicinal herbs that are grown for generations in private orchards of Serbian households, gain their special value in making the homemade brandy. Rakija /in Serbia usually homemade/ is a strong spirit. Recipes for making rakija /homemade brandy/ are passed on for generations in Serbian families. Serving this kind of homemade brandy also represents the welcome in Serbian households. It should present the health elixir, but only if drinking with esteem and toast “Živeli” (live long ) or “uzdravlje” (in health). In Serbia it is common to drink rakija slowly from tiny glasses. We organize various Rakia Tours

We always “serve” those original specialties and Serbian meals on our tours…
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