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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Cuisine of Yugoslavia Per Country

Having introduced you to the cuisine of Slovenia I ran into difficulties with the rest of what was once Yugoslavia. Bosnia-Hercogovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia are the countries that once made up Yugoslavia.Bosnia-Hercogovina – Bosnian cuisine uses many spices, but usually in very small quantities. Sauces are fully natural, consisting of little more than the natural juices of the vegetables in the dish.

Some typical ingredients are tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, spinach, courgettes (zucchini), dried beans, fresh beans, plums, milk and cream called Pavlaka (a soured cream product). The cuisine is balanced between Western and Eastern influences. Bosnian food is closely related to Turkish, Greek, and other Mediterranean cuisines. Typical meat dishes include primarily beef and lamb. Mostly only the Catholic and Orthodox population eat pork. Some of the local specialties are: cevapcici.

Bosnian ćevapi from the Baščaršija district of Sarajevo and Banja Luka are probably the most famous ćevapi. Travnik and Tuzla are known for their ćevapi made of beef stewed with spices. This dish is very popular in some parts of former Yugoslavia as well. The stew is poured on lepinja or somun flatbread and few chunks of meat left there. Banja Luka is known for ćevapi which are multiple rolls (usually four) joined together. Bosnian ćevapi are made from two types of minced beef meat, hand mixed and formed with a funnel. Formed ćevapi are grilled. Burek - In Bosnia and Herzegovina the word burek refers only to the meat-filled pastry dish. Thin dough layers are stuffed and then rolled and cut into spirals (resembling an American cinnamon bun). The same dish with cottage cheese is called sirnica, one with spinach and cheese zeljanica, one with potatoes krompiruša, and all of them are generically referred to as pita (trans. pie). This kind of dough dish is also popular in Croatia, where it was imported by Bosnian Croats, and is usually called rolani burek (rolled burek). Dolma is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and surrounding regions, including Turkey, Egypt, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, the Balkans, Greece, Iraq, Iran and Central and South Asia. Perhaps the best-known is the grape-leaf dolma, which is more precisely called yaprak dolma or sarma. Common vegetables to stuff include zucchini, eggplant, tomato and pepper. The stuffing may or may not include meat. Meat dolma are generally served warm, often with sauce; meatless ones are generally served cold, though meatless Dolma are eaten both ways in Iran. Both are often eaten with yoghurt. The filling generally consists of rice, minced meat or grain. In either case, the filling includes onion, parsley, herbs and spices. Meatless fillings are cooked with olive oil and include dried grapes, nuts or pulses. Sarma - Minced meat (usually beef, pork, veal, or a combination thereof, but also lamb, goat, sausage and various bird meat such as duck and goose), rice, onions, and various spices, including salt, pepper and various local herbs are mixed together and then rolled into large plant leaves, which may be cabbage (fresh or pickled), chard, patience, vine leaf (fresh or pickled) or broadleaf plantain leaves. The combination is then boiled for several hours. While specific recipes vary across the region, it is uniformly recognized that the best cooking method is slow boiling in large clay pots. A special ingredient, flour browned in fat (called rântaş in Romania, where it may also contain finely chopped onion), is often added at the end of the process. Other fine-tuned flavors include cherry tree leaves in some locations; other recipes require the use of pork fat—there are innumerable variations across the region. Vegetarian variants as well as those made with fish exist. Sarma is normally a heavy dish (though families are increasingly using healthier options such as olive oil or other oils instead of the traditional pork fat). Thus, it is usually eaten during winter. Traditionally, they are served along with polenta or potatoes, which are sometimes mashed. Other optional add-ons include sour cream, yogurt and horseradish. In Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia sarmale (сарма) is a traditional meal for Christmas Eve (in Serbia and Romania also for Easter). Pilaf also called pilau or pulao, is a dish in which a grain, such as rice or cracked wheat, is browned in oil, and then cooked in a seasoned broth. Depending on the local cuisine it may also contain a variety of meat and vegetables Goulash is a dish, originally from Hungary, usually made of beef, red onions, vegetables spices and ground paprika powder. The name comes from the Hungarian gulyás (pronounced goo-yash), the word for a cattle stockman or herdsman. Ajvar is a relish made principally from red bell peppers, with eggplant, garlic and chili pepper. It is predominantly popular in the Balkans. Its origins are in southern Serbia and Republic of Macedonia where it is traditionally homemade. Grocery store ajvar is very popular in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Depending on capsaicin content in bell peppers and the amount of added chili peppers, it can be sweet, piquant (the most common), or very hot. Ajvar can be consumed as a bread spread, a condiment or in a salad. There is also a whole range of Eastern sweets. The best local wines come from Herzegovina and plum or apple rakia is produced in Bosnia. Rakia is similar to brandy, made by distillation of fermented fruits, popular throughout the Balkans, Italy and France. Its alcohol content is normally 40%, but home-produced rakia can be stronger, typically 50 to 60%. Prepečenica is double-distilled rakia, with alcohol content sometimes exceeding 60%. Rakia is considered to be the national drink among some of the South Slavic peoples. Common flavours are slivovitz, produced from plums and grozdova, made from grapes. Fruits less commonly used are peaches, apricots, apples, pears, cherry, figs, and quinces. There is a mixed fruits rakia in Serbia, Bulgaria also. In Istria, however, rakia is made exclusively from grapes, where the drink is also known locally as trapa or grappa (the latter name also being used in Italy). Plum and grape rakia are sometimes mixed with other ingredients, such as herbs, honey, sour cherries and walnuts, after distillation.

Croatia – Among Croatia’s delicacies are spicy sausages called Kulen and Kulenova Seka. Kulen is a type of flavored sausage made of minced pork that is traditionally produced in Vojvodina and Slavonija. The meat is low-fat, rather brittle and dense, and the flavor is spicy. The red paprika gives it aroma and color, and garlic adds spice. The original Kulen recipe does not contain black pepper, as its hot flavor comes from hot red paprika. The pieces of Kulen are smoked for several months, using certain types of wood. After the smoking they are air-dried for another several months. This process can last up to a year. Although similar to other air-dried procedures, the meat is fermented in addition to the air-drying. High-grade Kulen is sometimes even covered with a thin layer of mold, giving it distinct aroma. There are crunchy pastries Krostule which are fried in oil. In continental parts of Croatia, Sarma is identical to the Bosnian type, and includes rice and minced meat, as well as dried smoked beef. Gorski Kotar filling which are pieces of ham with eggs and bread. Janjetina a whole lamb, heavily salted before cooking (though it doesn’t taste too salty when done), roast on a spit for a few hours, basted in its own juices, as it rolls, rolls and turns around itself! The result is a melt-in-the-mouth, slightly salty, tender, juicy and meaty sensation in your mouth, contrasted by the crunchy salty skin! Strukli is a boiled pastry pie with cottage cheese, a speciality of the Međimurje county region in northern Croatia. Zagorski štrukli are cheese puff pastries from the Zagorje area in Croatia. In the regional areas, Zganci is a common breakfast meal which consists of cheese, sour cream, yogurt and bacon. Other dishes include turkeys, ducks with mlinci or baked noodles and Krvavice or blood sausage with sauerkraut.

Macedonian cuisine is similar to that of Turkey and Greece. Different varieties of kebab can be found everywhere. Kebab refers to a variety of meat dishes in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, African, Central Asian, and South Asian cuisines, consisting of grilled or broiled meats on a skewer or stick. The most common kebabs include lamb and beef, although others use goat, chicken, fish, or shellfish. Observant Muslims and Jews do not use pork for kebabs because of religious and cultural prohibition, but pork kebabs can be found in India, especially in the state of Goa. Other dishes are Moussaka which traditionally consists of layers of ground (minced) lamb or red meat, sliced eggplant and tomato, topped with a white sauce and baked. The Macedonian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Bosnian, Montenegrin and Romanian versions are also made with potatoes. Shkembe Chorba is a kind of tripe soup Tripe is the thick lining of the stomach of cattle. Shkembe chorba is bound with milk and usually served with garlic, vinegar, and chili peppers as seasoning. Different versions of the soup are quite common in the eating places all over the Balkans. Ljutenica is a national relish of Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia and Serbia. The ingredients include: tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, garlic, black pepper, vegetable oil, sugar and salt. Pljeskavica is a hamburger dish popular in most of the Balkans. Traditional Pljeskavica was made from a mixture of lamb or pork and beef, grilled with onions and served hot on fresh somun with a thick pita bread. Some national dishes are gravce tavce beans in a skillet and the delicious Ohrid trout. The ohrid trout, Salmo letnica, is a type of trout found the Republic of Macedonia and Albania, especially in Lake Ohrid. Ohrid trout is a Macedonian specialty in food it is used for soups and other dishes. It tastes like a brown trout crossed with an Atlantic salmon.

Montenego – The traditional dishes of Montenegro’s heartland and its Adriatic coast have a distinctive Italian flavor. The second large influence came from the Levant and Turkey. Some Hungarian dishes are also common. The coastal area is traditionally a representative of Mediterranean cuisine, with seafood being a common dish. Some typical dishes are: Njeguska prsuta is a specialty of Njeguši, a village in Montenegro. It is made of pork, and its particular taste and aroma are the result of the mixture of sea and mountain air and wood burned for drying them. Kacamak dish made of corn flour, potato and, sometimes, feta cheese or skorup. Similar to the Italian polenta, it is prepared by boiling the mixture until it is thick or runny, depending on taste, and then mashing while the pot is still on the fire. It is usually served with milk, plain yogurt, sour cream or sometimes with bacon. Although it was once regarded as a poor man's food, it has grown into the everyday cuisine and is often found in restaurants. Prstaci or date shells are found on the Adriatic coast of Croatia and Montenegro. The Croatian government had restricted the collection of these shells to protect the rocks on which they are found. Historically these shells are considered a delicacy. They are commonly cooked and served in a broth of white wine, garlic and parsley. Macedonian kebapi are made of both pork and beef. A serving usually consists of 5-10 pieces, served with white bread, minced red pepper, salt and onions. In Serbia and Macedonia, burek is made from layers of thick dough, alternating with layers of other fillings in a circular baking pan and topped with a layer of dough. Traditional fillings are stewed ground meat, cheese, apple, sour cherry, mushrooms, and a modern variant, "pizza" burek. Prazan burek ("empty burek", i.e. without filling) is also made.

Serbia - Serbian cuisine is generally rich in spices and herbs: like black and white pepper, allspice (najgvirc), Coriandrum sativum (korijander), ground paprika, parsley (peršun), laurel (lovor, lorber), celery (celer), clove (karanfilić), and lots of other are used in various meals and modes. Duvec consisting of stewed vegetables similar to ratatouille. During meals it is usually served with meat (meso), rice (pirinač) and french fries (pomfrit). Mućkalica (from mućkati - to shake) is a barbecue in Serbian cuisine, made by mixing various meats and vegetables. Pihtije is an aspic-like Serbian dish, generally made from low grade pork meat, such as the head, shank and/or hock. Some recipes also include smoked meat. Pihtije is commonly just one component of a traditional Serbian meal (or an appetizer), although it can be served as a main dish. It is usually accompanied by cold rakija (strong šljivovica or apricot brandy is nice, but quince brandy can do as well) and turšija (cold pickled vegetables, usually horse-radish, bell peppers, hot peppers, green tomatoes and cabbage/sauerkraut). Head cheese (AmE) or brawn (BrE) is in fact not a cheese, but meat slices in aspic, with onion, black pepper, allspice, bay leaf, salt and or vinegar, from the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow). It may also include meat from the feet, tongue and heart. It is usually eaten cold or at room temperature as a luncheon meat. It is sometimes also known as souse meat, particularly if pickled with vinegar.

Traditional Balkan recipe: Ćevapi - Grilled rolls of minced beef and lamb, served with chopped fresh onion and ''lepinja''
Ingredients for Ćevapi :
• 350g Premium Grade Minced Beef
• 150g minced lamb
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 50g onion, minced
• 40ml natural mineral water
• 20ml oil
• hot chili to taste (optional)
• pepper to taste
• vegata or salt to taste
1. Combine well all ingredients for Ćevapi. Refrigerate mixture over night.
2. Wet hands with water and shape the mixture into uniform rolls.
3. Cook the Ćevapi on a hot lightly oiled barbecue grill or frypan for 6-10 minutes, turning frequently.
4. Ćevapi can be served on its own or between slices of lepinja.
Tavce Gravce - Tetovo's Style
Ingredients needed:

1kgr. Beans (white)
3-4 medium size onions
garlic, oil, salt, 2 tbsp flour
1 teaspoon red mild paprika
parsley, fresh mint

How to prepare:

Wash then boil the beans making sure not to overboil. Chop and fry the onion in separate fry pan just to become soft. Add the paprika, garlic and black pepper if desired. Place the beans in stoneware pot adding the onions, chopped parsley and mint as well. Bake in moderate oven making sure that it does not dry. Serve with BBQs. By Rasma Raisters

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