Gastronomy of Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s cuisine evidences its rich and well preserved cultural heritage. Owing to the relatively warm climate and complex geography of Bulgaria, affording excellent growing conditions for a variety of delicious fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits, Bulgarian cuisine is extremely diverse. Bulgarian home cooking is very seasonal and although nowadays you can enjoy most dishes all year round, they are still at their best when the ingredients are fresh and in season and naturally grown. One could hardly imagine a traditional celebration Bulgarian way, without a table generously laid with tasty meals – symbols of the fertility or this land, the good health and the well-being. The food in Bulgaria is full of variety, and a mix of local and foreign influences. Bulgarians combine ingredients in the uniquely Bulgarian way. Most Bulgarian dishes are oven baked, steamed, or in the form of stew. Deep-frying is uncommon in Bulgaria, but grilling – especially different kinds of meats – is widely practiced.

Meat — especially pork or lamb – is an important ingredient in numerous Bulgarian dishes. Pork is the most common meat in Bulgaria, followed by chicken and lamb. Kyufte and kebapche are most popular meat products in Bulgaria made of minced pork and veal meat with spices. Kyufte and kebapche of Bulgaria are different in shape and in spices but the most traditional way of their preparation is grilling. Kyufte and kebapche served with garnish of tomatoes, cucumbers, fried potatoes or some sort of a salad are favorite Bulgarian meals. A staple of Bulgaria cuisine is the so called meshana skara or tasty ‘mixed grill”, consisting of several different kinds of sausages and minced meat products. Meshana skara with lyutenitza – the staple mixed grill is flavoured with a traditional condiment made of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onion, garlic and black pepper. Tripe soup (shkembe chorba) is also widely prepared in Bulgaria, as is a variety of aspic (head cheese) called pacha and a delicious dry sausage called lukanka. Other popular dishes in Bulgaria are of Oriental origin – moussaka and gyuvech, a casserole of pork or lamb with potatoes, tomatoes and sarmi, peppers or cabbage stuffed with pork and rice. Shopska salata, a fresh salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, yoghurt, lyutenica, and feta cheese, /which is called sirene in Bulgaria/ and kozunak give Bulgaria a distinctive cuisine.

Bulgarias cooking tradition, formed by many generations, has brought some specific features in the methods of cooking, with many fresh products, and specific seasoning – mostly prepared or extracted from aromatic herbs with important medical characteristics. All these make Bulgarian food incredibly tasty, but also very healthy. Lentil stew is a Bulgarian specialty and well as Bantiza, a baked cheese pastry. The most popular food in Bulgaria is yoghurt that maintains its residents’ longevity. Bulgarian Yoghurt is a staple of the diet served at almost every meal. Bulgarians begin eating yogurt at the age of three months. Yogurt with water and ice cubes is a favorite summer drink. The green cheese of Tscherni vit is really Bulgarian uniqueness – the only traditional mold cheese in the Balkans. Tradition of sheep cheese production is kept by the mayor of the village, Tsvetan Dimitrov – a really very engaged person. It si possible to go there by bus, but one should change the bus in Teteven city. There is also a nice Guesthouse in the village for visitors who decide to explore this exceptional product and pride of Lovech and Bulgaria.

Another important staple in Bulgaria is bread, usually bought fresh every day. A popular snack in Bulgaria is a slice of warm bread topped with feta cheese and tomato slices. Oriental sweets as baklava /flaky pastry dough with nuts soaked in sweet syrup/ and similar are favorite desserts and widely consumed ini Bulgaria. Bulgarian cuisine is also renowned for the quality of dairy products and salads, excellent drinking mineral waters of light, cook and pleasant taste, as well as the variety of wines and local alcoholic drinks such as rakiya, mastika and menta.

Bulgarians like to drink strong coffee called Turkish.

Wine has been produced and consumed on the Bulgarian lands since time immemorial. The Thracians, who were the oldest population on these lands, were among the most celebrated wine-makers of antiquity. It was believed to be the mirror of the soul, releasing the internal, hidden and true nature of the human being. The wine for the Thracians was in the very beginning of everything and even after the end – in the happy life beyond… The tradition of wine making in Bulgaria is still alive nowadays. Exports of Bulgarian wine go worldwide, and until 1990, Bulgaria exported the world’s second-largest total of bottled wine. As of 2007, 200,000 tones of wine were produced annually the 20th-largest total in the world. Among the most prominent local wine sorts of Bulgaria are Dimiat, Mavrud, Red Misket, Rouen, Rubin, Melnik 55, Shiroka Melnishka Loza, Pamid…. Mavrud is a red grape variety originating in the Thracian Lowland of southern Bulgaria and is, today, one of the oldest grape varieties in the world. In the southern part of Bulgaria around Melnik, generously lit by sunlight, grow grapes, which have gathered in themselves the caresses of the morning, the warmth of the day and the love of the evening. Only in this region the world famous ancient vine varieties are grown – Broad Leaved Melnik Vine and Keratsuda. There are many stories about wine, made by the caring hands of its owners – they will be told to you by oenologists in the local wineries and the Museum of Wine in Melnik.

According to legend, the name of the grape derives from a brave young man known as Mavrud, who slew a ferocious lion that had terrorized his local village. King Khan Krum, unpopular as he was for ordering the destruction of vineyards, demanded of Mavrud’s mother to know why the boy was so courageous. She answered, that she had secretly kept a bunch of grapes, producing a wine from it that bestowed on Mavrud courage. The King was so impressed by this story that he ordered the immediate replanting of vineyards, naming a grape after Mavrud in the process.

Monastery Gyuvetch – Hotch Potch -from our great partner Touroperator ALTOURS Bulgaria

Recipe for 4 – 5 persons

  1. – 1 kg braising beef or pork
  2. – 4 medium tomatoes
  3. – 120 gr mushrooms
  4. – 1 cup rice
  5. – 1 onion
  6. – 150 gr olives
  7. – 1 bunch of parsley
  8. – 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  9. – 25 gr butter
  10. – 1 tablespoon sugar
  11. – 2,5 cups beef stock
  12. – black pepper, paprika and salt

Preparation of Monastery Gyvetch – cut meat into small cubes or small pieces and fry it in a pan with a little oil for some 5 minutes. Add the chopped onions, beef stock and paprika, 5 minutes later add the mushrooms and rice and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and salt to taste, the butter, 1 tablespoon sugar and olives and cook for further 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 190 C. Transfer content of the pan into a baking dish and cook for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and pepper before serving.

Bulgarian Patatnik or patetnik

Ingredients for 4 -5 persons

– 3 large potatoes
– 1 large onion
– 1,5 cups flour
– 0,5 cup oil
– 3 eggs
– tablespoon salt
– 0,5 tablespoon black pepper
– 2 tablespoons warm water
– 1 packet yeast

Preparation of Bulgarian Patatnik – in a small dish mix the yeast and water. Let stand for ten minutes. Grate potatoes and onions. Place in a large bowl. Mix with yeast and remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased baking pan. Let rise for 1 hour. In a preheated oven (200 degrees C) bake for 50 – 60 minutes. Should get golden brown on top. This is really delicious dish.

Patatnik is a Bulgarian potato dish characteristic of the Rhodope Mountains in the Bulgaria’s central south. Patatnik is made of grated potatoes, onions, salt and spearmint, all mixed and cooked on a slow fire. Meat, sirene (white cheese) or eggs might be added. Some people also use savory and peppers. The Patatnik dish is traditional for the entire Rhodopes and the nearby regions, from Bansko in Pirin through Smolyan and Zlatograd to as far east as Chernichevo. The name of Patatnik is derived from the local word patato or pateto, “potato”, with the Slavic masculine suffix – nik.