Bulgarian cuisine is the culmination of all of the greatest traditional dishes in Southeastern Europe, incorporating hints of Russian, Middle Eastern, Greek, Turkish and Serbian flavors and ingredients. Bulgarian dishes are decadently rich and yet simple concoctions of spices and fresh raw ingredients that are found in abundance in the region.Bulgaria’s diverse and delicious dishes come from its location at the literal crossroads of the modern world in Southeastern Europe. With Turkey and Greece to the south, Bulgarian dishes often reflect classic Greek flavors such as olive oil and a hearty use of feta cheese, while the Turkish influence is seen in the grilled meats and stuffed pastries that are commonly cooked in large gatherings. The delicious cuisine and traditional dishes of Bulgaria are hearty, warm and inviting… and we invite you to learn about some of our favorite traditional Bulgarian dishes here:
We have to begin with Sirene, as this local cheese — along with yogurt — is found in so many of the dishes in Bulgaria. A white brine cheese, Sirene is made from goat milk, sheep milk, cow milk, or an combination of those milks. Very similar to Greek feta cheese, it is crumbly, strong and has a bitter hint to it. Sirene is common not only in Bulgaria, but in Serbia, Croatia and many other Southeastern European Countries.
Easily one of Bulgaria’s most popular and widely-recognized traditional dishes, the Shopska salad is much like a Greek or Mediterranean Salad; with chopped fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted or un-roasted peppers, and scallions (Green Onions), as the star of the dish, and a heap of finely shredded sirene cheese. The salad is lightly dressed with a simple mixture of olive oil and vinegar and is often served with Rakia (A Popular Fruit Brandy).
Bulgarian Banitsa (Banica)
Bulgarian Banitsa is really just a thin pastry made by layering thin sheets of filo pastry with eggs and cheese. The dishes that are made with the finished banitsa products are wide and varied. Often, banitsa are the staple of breakfasts, with these pastries being stuffed with even more soft cheese (Like A Cheese Danish), dipped in yogurt, or stuffed with vegetables such as pumpkin.
Tikvenik — Bulgarian Pumpkin Roll
Christmas time in Bulgaria comes with a celebration of fall foods, just like in other corners of the world. During the fall and winter, one of the most popular dishes being cooked in the Balkan region of Bulgaria is Tikvenik, or Bulgarian pumpkin rolls. Banitsa stuffed with Sirene Cheese,fresh roasted pumpkin, cinnamon and chopped walnuts; this dish has a true aroma of Christmas.
Comparable to Turkish Kefta Kebabs, and Serbian Cevap, Kebapche is a blend of minced pork (Or Combinations of Pork, Lamb and Beef) and beef spiced with black peeper, cumin and salt that is formed into long, thin patties and grilled over an open fire. Though the true ingredients and recipe will vary depending on the region in which you are enjoying it, kebapche can often include minced onions and can be served in pita or flatbread.
Much like a bulgarian sweet salsa, Ljutenica is a spicy relish made from eggplant, peppers, carrots, onions, tomatoes, sugar and spices. Used as a condiment, ljutenica is spread on toast and bread, and is often used as a relish on grilled Kebapche.
Literally meaning “Bean Soup,” this traditional Bulgarian soup can use any mix of beans, and is stewed with tomatoes, onions, carrots and chubritza (Also Known As Summer Savory) or Spearmint.
A cold soup that is also used as a sauce and a dip, Tarator is made with a blend of ground walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, cucumber, yogurt, and dill. Similar in taste to a tzatziki sauce, the dish is served cold and with bread as an appetizer.
A minced meat casserole that it heavily influenced by Greek Moussaka, Bulgarian Musaka is made of ground pork, tomatoes, potatoes, onion and a yogurt sauce.
Similar to ljutenica, kiopoolu is an eggplant based dish that is not as spicy and sweet as ljutinica, and is a bit closer to baba ganouj in tecture and taste. It is usually served alongside bread for dipping.
As we move into Bulgarian desserts, we have to mention that lokumki are not only one of our favorite Bulgarian desserts, but they are one of our favorite wintertime desserts of all! A Bulgarian cookie that is stuffed with a hard jelly or in some cases Turkish Delight, these cookies are rolled in powdered sugar and soft baked.
These honey spice cookies — while served more often during Christmas and the winter season — are traditional Bulgarian cookies made with cloves, cinnamon and honey. With a lit hint of spice and warmth, these cookies are often served with a hot drink or warm milk.
Learn The Basics of Bulgarian Cuisine and the Food Regions in the Video Below:
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