Bulgaria

What to eat in Bulgaria

more than a year ago

Bulgarian cuisine per se is one of the tastiest in Europe, combining the rich influence of the Ottoman Empire with a peasant cooking style that uses Bulgaria’s flavour-packed vegetables and herbs to the full. Anyone who has had the opportunity to sample traditional Bulgarian cuisine will tell you that there is little to rival a salad of fresh tomatoes and home-made sheep’s cheese; the delicate flavours of slow-baked stews in clay ramekins; or the many and varied non-meat dishes that are available. Bulgarian home cooking is still 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.

Bulgarians always start the meal with a salad, usually accompanied by a glass of rakia, the local spirit made of grapes or plums, or maybe in the summer months a mastika, an aniseed based spirit similar to the Greek ouzo.

SALADS
These are some of the most popular salads worth trying. Most are served without a dressing: oil and vinegar can be added to one’s taste.
shopska salad: This is the Bulgarian salad, made with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, covered in grated sirene (salty sheep or cow’s cheese) and parsley. Sometimes it also includes fresh or baked peppers and onion.
snezhanka or mlechna salata: cucumber finely chopped in strained yogurt, with garlic and crushed walnuts. Sometimes in the winter months, pickled gherkins are used as a substitute for the rather expensive and watery cucumbers.
chushki salad: freshly roasted peppers, skinned and marinated with oil, slivers of garlic and plenty of fresh parsley.
kyopoulu: aubergines are roasted whole, the flesh is then scooped out and blended with a couple of roasted and skinned peppers, plenty of fresh garlic and parsley and a little oil.
turshiya: a winter salad of pickled vegetables, including green tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots and peppers
russka salata: another winter favourite with small chunks of potato, carrots and gherkins in mayonnaise.

STARTERS
A hot starter may follow: this could be braised offal, such as liver or chicken hearts, or even fried brains, but if like most foreigners you squirm at the thought, do not worry there are plenty of delicious vegetarian options that can also substitute a main course.
chushki byurek:  a pepper stuffed with cheese and herbs and fried in breadcrumbs.
podlucheni tikvichki: fried courgette slices covered with a garlicky yoghurt and dill sauce.
sirene po shopski: white cheese baked in a ceramic pot, topped with an egg and chilli pepper.
mish mash: scrambled eggs with tomatoes, red peppers and sirene.
surmi: either stuffed cabbage or vine leaves, which can be with meat or vegetarian.
pulneni chushki: stuffed peppers, usually with mince meat and rice, often served with a Bechamel sauce.

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