Food in the Balkans: 10 Traditional Dishes You Must Try

By xp5u9
October 10, 2022

Food in the Balkans is as diverse as the region itself. The cuisine is a blend of Turkish, Mediterranean, and Eastern European influences. Staples of the Balkan diet include bread, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, and yogurt. Meat is also popular, with lamb and chicken being the most common. The region’s climate is ideal for growing grapes, so wine is also a significant part of the food culture.

Food in the Balkans delicious stuffed Peppers

1. Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers are a classic Balkan food, traditionally made with green peppers stuffed with minced beef, onion, garlic and spices, but can also include peppers stuffed with cheese or vegetables. Stuffed Peppers are typically served alongside other traditional Balkan dishes such as Cevapi or Pljeskavica – grilled meat patties made of pork or lamb – and salads such as the popular Ajvar salad made from roasted red peppers.

This dish is often found in many restaurant menus throughout the Balkans but can also be cooked at home for those wanting to try their hand at this simple yet delicious recipe.

delicious Ćevapi recipe

2. Ćevapi

Cevapi meat has become a popular dish in the Balkan region. Originating from the countries of Serbia and Croatia, evapi is composed of ground beef, lamb or pork mixed with spices, onions and garlic. This traditional dish can be enjoyed as an appetizer or main course for lunch or dinner.

Due to its flavorful ingredients, evapi is often served with different sides such as pita bread, feta cheese and a variety of vegetables. It can also be enjoyed on its own with a side of fries or salad. Despite being considered high-calorie food because it contains fat and carbohydrates, this meal is quite nutritious due to its rich protein content from the meats used in preparation.

sarma traditional Balkan food cabbage leaf stuffing rice meat

3. Sarma

Sarma is a traditional Balkan food that has been enjoyed by locals for centuries. It is a dish made with cabbage or vine leaves, stuffed with meat and rice, and served with sour cream on the side. The origins of this classic comfort food can be traced back to ancient Greece and Turkey, where similar dishes were popularized long ago.

Today, Sarma is widely known throughout the Balkans as a hearty mealtime favorite. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, it’s often referred to as “sarmica”; in Serbia, it’s called “punjene sarmice”; while in Croatia it goes by the name of “mlinci sarma”. Regardless of its many names, one thing remains constant—this savory dish has become an iconic part of the region’s culinary heritage.

ajvar Balkan food

4. Ajvar

Ajvar is a traditional dish of the Balkans that has been around for centuries. It is a delicious blend of roasted red peppers, eggplant and garlic, usually served as an accompaniment to grilled meats or as part of traditional Balkan cuisine. Ajvar has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its unique flavor and versatility as an ingredient.

This condiment can also be used in baking recipes or even mixed into sauces and dressings for added flavor. For those looking for something different than traditional condiments such as ketchup or mustard, Ajvar may be the perfect choice!

Pljeskavica recipe

5. Pljeskavica

Pljeskavica is a traditional Balkan dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. This patty-style flatbread sandwich combines savory ground beef and pork, herbs, and spices for a hearty meal. Served with crispy onions, kajmak (a creamy cheese spread), and ajvar (roasted red pepper relish), pljeskavica offers both flavor and texture to the palate.

Originating in Serbia, pljeskavica can be found throughout the region. The name itself comes from the Serbian word “pljesak,” which means “clap,” likely due to its shape resembling two clapping hands when cooked on an open flame grill.

Gyros classic Balkan dish

6. Gyros

Gyros, a classic Balkan dish, is the perfect meal for any occasion. Originating in Greece and widely popular throughout the Balkans, Gyros are grilled meat skewers served with tzatziki sauce and a host of other accompaniments. Featuring succulent lamb or pork cooked on a vertical rotating grill and then thinly sliced onto warm pita bread, gyros are sure to tantalize your tastebuds.

Whether you’re looking for an easy-to-prepare lunch or dinner option, or crave something unique and flavorful to serve at your next party, gyros make the perfect choice. This traditional Balkan dish can be easily made at home thanks to its straightforward ingredients such as pita bread, meat of your choice (lamb or pork), tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce. Serve alongside some Greek fries for extra crunch!

Banitsa recipe

7. Banitsa

Banitsa is a traditional dish widely popular in the Balkan region. It is a kind of pastry made with layers of filo dough filled with eggs, cheese, and sometimes meat. This savory dish has been enjoyed for centuries, and it’s considered to be one of the most quintessential Balkan culinary staples.

The preparation of banitsa varies from country to country throughout the Balkans. For instance, Bulgarians often make banitsa with feta cheese and leek or spinach filling; Macedonians opt for a combination of white cheese and ground beef; and Serbians usually combine cottage cheese, potatoes, and ham in their version. The different types of banitsa are traditionally cooked in an oven until golden brown perfection is achieved.

Baklava traditional flavors

8. Baklava

Baklava is a delectable pastry dish that has its origins in the countries of the Balkan Peninsula. To create baklava, layers of phyllo dough are filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey or syrup. This traditional treat is then baked until golden brown and served as a dessert or snack.

Baklava has become an integral part of Balkan cuisine, enjoyed by people from many different parts of the region. Its popularity can be attributed to its sweetness, crunchiness, and flaky texture. It is often served on special occasions like weddings or holidays due to its luxurious flavors and presentation. In addition to being a favorite among the locals, baklava has become a popular item at international restaurants around the world due to its unique taste and exquisite look.

Turkish Borek pastry

9. Burek

Burek is a traditional Balkan food that has been enjoyed for centuries. This savory pastry dish is made with thin layers of dough filled with anything from meat to cheese and spinach, making it a popular and versatile staple throughout the countries in the Balkans. Burek is often served as an appetizer or a main course; however, it can also be found as a snack or dessert.

Eating burek is not just about the taste – it’s also about the culture and tradition associated with this beloved dish. It’s said to have originated in Turkey but over time has become an integral part of Balkan cuisine, embraced by all nations in the region. With its delicate layers of dough and delicious fillings, burek has become an irreplaceable part of life for people living in this area.

Saganaki recipe

10. Saganaki

Saganaki is considered to be a classic dish in Balkan cuisine. This delicious fried cheese is made with Kefalotyri or Graviera and is usually served as an appetiser. For this traditional dish, slices of cheese are lightly dredged in flour, then fried in a pan until golden and bubbling and finished off with a squeeze of lemon juice.

This beloved food has its origins from the Greek region of Macedonia and can now be found throughout the Balkans. It’s eaten as both an accompaniment to other dishes or by itself with potatoes or bread dipped into it for extra flavour. The preparation time for Saganaki may vary based on the type of cheese used but it’s very easy to make at home given you have the right ingredients.

Have you tried any of these food in the Balkans?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and tag @thebalkanrecipes on Instagram and hashtag it #thebalkanrecipes.

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