Ayvar – ajvar /ayvar/ is very tasteful Serbian/Balkan 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…
Preparation and Serving Belmuz: 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 is cooked fruit product conserved in a dense, sugar-based syrup. This type of conservation, which is used also for vegetables and rose petals, is characteristic in Balkan cuisine, especially in Serbia, Bulgaria and in some mountainous areas of Greece. Slatko can be prepared 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 tasty 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 !
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….
Kiseli kupus – Serbian Sauerkraut /Cabbage Casserole/
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.
Pileća supa – Chicken Soup
Punjene paprike – Stuffed Peppers
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.
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…