Gastronomy of Macedonia

North Macedonia’s favorable warm climate with predominantly pleasant Mediterranean influence coming along the Balkan river valleys featuring finest waters and fertile soil and plenty of benefitial sunshine /Ohrid has 2300 sunny hours per year/ provide fruitful harvests of juicy and delicious fruits and vegetables and wonderful traditional produces. Macedonian food is one of the most delicious foods in the world. The secret of its irreplaceable flavor is that it’s been prepared the same way for centuries: with lots of love. Some food recipes in North Macedonia have been restored and adapted to the present day. Macedonian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the Balkans, reflecting the Mediterranean and the Middle Eastern influences and shares characteristics of other Balkan cuisines. North Macedonia is also rich in extraordinary quality of meat delicacies, producing beef, chicken, pork and lamb, and a whole range of game. Macedonian cuisine is also known for the variety and large quantities of dairy products, fantastic dough dishes and pastries for which Macedonians are true masters, as well as for varied local alcoholic drinks like rakija and various wines and liquors.

The agricultural sector in North Macedonia represents a significant area due to the fact that agriculture it employs a relevant number of the population; it is identified as one of the strategic as well as highly potential sector. In fact, few countries as small as Macedonia can offer such variety of products including everything from citrus fruits, grapes, almonds and hazelnuts to excellent tobacco, rice and various mountain teas. Harvesting and processing of wild eco products (forest fruits, mushrooms and medicinal herbs) is also developing in some areas of wonderful North Macedonia.

Macedonia is especially well known for its high quality and delicious cheeses: soft white cheese (sirenje), similar to Greek feta, yellow cheese (kashkaval) – similar to Italian Locatello Romano – and also its yoghurt and milk. Every North Macedonian village offers unique and tasty local varieties of cheese.

Among the most popular vegetables in Macedonia are the red peppers, so there are more than 1000 traditional recipes with or including pepper in North Macedonia ! Every Macedonian garden grows red peppers, often very hot, sometimes just mild. The unique and specific decorative sight of red peppers, hung out to dry on every veranda for use in winter cooking, is found everywhere in North Macedonia. In autumn in Macedonia peppers are picked, roasted, skinned, pulped and produces into the ayvar, the most popular Balkan appetizer-relish and the best red pepper paste you can find. North Macedonia is famous exporter of fresh and processed, pasteurized and pickled vegetables, packed in cans and glass jars, such are peppers, red peppers, ajvar, lutenica, pindjur /also highly delicious and favorite Balkan appetizer-starter/, cabbage leaves, apple peppers, roasted peppers, hot peppers, pfefferoni, beet root, green tomato, plum sweet preserve, small – baby cucumbers – gherkins, cauliflower, carrots, eggplant…..

Gourmands claim that “gravče na tavče” dish can be compared with truffles, oysters and caviar, and that the quality of the Macedonian beans prepared in clay pots gives the “gravce na tavce” Macedonian traditional specialty the distinctive savor. Variety of delicious traditional specialties are offered for memorable food enjoyment in Macedonia, especially for religious holidays and celebration of Easter and Christmas, when table is uniquely rich and tasty : Turli tava, lutenica, Banitza-Spinach Pie-Zelnik, Pastrmajlija – rustic bread pie, Selsko meso – meat chunks slowly stewed in clay pot with whatever vegetables are available in the kitchen, such as onions, tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes, Tarator, Old Pie with white cheese, Ohrid and Pelister trout, gjomleze dish, stuffed peppers, moussaka, vine leaves sarma,… Likewise in the whole Balkans, here the skilled hands of Macedonians sincerely compete with their regional neighbors about whose sweets are the best quality – baklava and other authentic and usually homemade-style sweet products. Orchards and farms of Macedonia provide abundance of fresh fruits and exceptionally tasty vegetables all year round.

Viticulture in Macedonia is very rich and varied in potential for grape growing, since the country has a long and distinguished history of wine-making. Macedonian wines are among the best in the world, thanks to abundance of beneficial sun in Macedonia throughout the year. The story of the Macedonian wines is cordial, friendly and colorful, since grapes have been cultivated and excellent wine have been produced in the most fertile regions of Macedonia along the course of the Vardar River, bathed in the heat of the sun. Whole families, in several regions in Macedonia taken by the power of wine, for generations now, from father to son, have conveyed the story of the healing power of the God’s drink and continue the tradition of grapes cultivation. After tobacco, wine is the second largest agricultural export from North Macedonia. There are more than 80 wineries currently in North Macedonia, out of which 25 are successful exporters of wine in the world market. The intense aromas, complex fullness and fantastic quality of the Macedonian wines come from the combined influence of specific soil fertility, and the Mediterranean and continental climates featuring warm summer days and cooler nights. Macedonia produces all sorts of wine – dry and sweet, still and sparkling, red, white and rose.

Today North Macedonia has around 24,000 hectares of vineyards that produce considerable quantities of highest quality grape. The two main varieties grown in North Macedonia are Vranec (red) and Smederevka (white). Beside those two the most popular, varieties include international ones like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir from the red and Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc from the white varieties. In addition there are number of other different varieties as Muscat Ottonel, Semillon, Rkaciteli, Grenache Blanc, and Kadarka, that are grown in Macedonia.

While you travel down the course of the Vardar River in North Macedonia the grape fields follow you at you every step. There are grape fields and vineyards in the regions of Skopje, Veles, Gevgelija-Valandovo, Strumica, Ovcepolje, Kocani-Vinica, Ohrid, Prilep, Bitola /Pelagonija-Polosko region/, Prespa, Kicevo, Tetovo and Pcinja – Osogovo. The most recognizable and famous wine area in Macedonia is the Tikvesh wine region, and its center – Kavadarci and Negotino are the biggest producers of the heady liquid of fantastic wines. The historical region of fertile Tikvešija, famous for extraordinary grapes, spreads from the Crna Reka to Demir Kapija and from the Vardar River to the Murihovo – Mariovo region and the Moglen area. Tikvesh wines reflect over 120 years of a culture which celebrates the entire wine experience and is must !


Chomlek is traditional North Macedonian stew typically prepared in clay pots with veal or baby beef and plenty of onions, garlic and herbs. Prepared in Pelagonija and southwest of North Macedonia, towns of Bitola, Prilep, Ohrid, and Krushevo with slightly different own versions and ingredients of this tasty dish.

Ingredients for 4 persons of Ohrid Chomlek : 800 gr beef – boneless, 6 cloves of garlic, 800 gr onions, salt, peppercorn, 1 spoon of red paprika powder, 2 spoons of oil, 2 spoons of vinegar

Preparation of Macedonian /Ohrid/ chomlek : Cut met into larger pieces. Slice onions and chop garlic. If onions are small, use whole onions without slicing or slice them in quarters. Lay layers of meat in ceramic pot and cover them with layers of sliced onions and garlic until the top of the pot and all ingredients used. Add salt, red paprika powder, pepper, oil, vinegar and water to fill the top of the pot. Cook on medium heat until meat becomes tender and almost all water is dried. Serve Chomlek with warm homemade buns.


– Cabbage casseroleShepherd original dish :

Ingredients : 500 gr of cut pickled sauerkraut, 600 gr minced mixed veal and pork meat, 1 onion, 100 gr rice, 1 garlic, small spoon of salt, half of a small spoon of cracked black pepper, half of a small spoon of cooking dried vegetable spice,  1 kg of potato, 500 gr sour cream, 3 eggs

Preparation : cook potato in boiled water and mash it. Ad sour cream, salt and chopped garlic, 2 yolks and whisked egg whites. Fry chopped onion on little oil, add minced meat and continue frying for 10-15 minutes. Wash pickled cabbage – sauerkaut in water to avoid too sour taste it originally has. Boil race for some 10 minutes. Mash all – meat, rice, chopped onion, spice and stir all well. Cover the griddle pan with butter and put the layer of cut sauerkraut, and some 150 ml of water. Cover this layer with the mixture of meat and ride and eggs and make it even. Make the next layer of tomato above it and bake the dish for 45 minutes On the temperature of 175 C. Serve the baked Shepherd Sarma in the same dish in which it was cooked.


Pastrmajlija or pastrmajka is Rustic Bread Pie – Savory pie from Kratovo. It differs a bit in taste from the other pastrmajlija varieties of Macedonia such as Veleshka pita – pie or Shtipska pastrmajlija by use of smoked pork delicacies instead of the usual pork and cured lamb or sheep meat. It is assumed that the name comes from smoked sheep meat called pastrma, although this type of meat was not frequently used in preparation of pastrmajlija.

Ingredients :

For the dough: 300 gr of white flour, 30 gr of Yeast, salt, sugar and water
For the filling: about 250gr smoked ham, optionally may be added 1 egg
Preparation – first make dough of flour, yeast, salt and sugar and water. Knead the dough well and leave it on side for about an hour to grow up to double quantity and rest well. After that roll the dough in “pastrmajka”elongated and ellipsoid form, fill it with smoked meat or whatever ingredients available and leave for a while for some time for additional rest, add little fat-grease over the filling and then bake it in pre- heated oven at 300 degrees. Serve the Kratovo Pastrmajlija with popular Kratovo red wine. MMMMMMMM !