Bulgarian Cuisine: Must-Try Traditional Dishes

28 Mar 2024
Bulgarian cuisine is like stumbling upon a hidden gourmet treasure trove where every dish tells a tale of spice-infused history and dairy-rich fables! Quintessentially hearty, Bulgarian fare is a thrilling mix of Ottoman influence with a homespun twist of Balkan charm, just waiting to take your taste buds on a joyride.

Think fresh salads playing the prelude to a symphony of stews that sing with flavour. And hey, have you even lived if you haven't tried the yoghurt so creamy it could star in its own dairy fairytale? Join us as we unveil the magic of this culinary gem - it’s truly the unsung hero of European cuisine, with a spoonful of tradition and a pinch of soul-warming comfort.
The Shopska Salad 


It relies heavily on fresh salads, a compulsory start to any meal along with a good measure of the local brandy 'rakiya'. Topping the list is the 'Shopska' Salad (diced cucumber, tomatoes, sometimes peppers and onions, generously covered in grated white cheese and parsley) which not only combines the colours of the national flag, but the purest of locally produced ingredients. In the winter months these are partly replaced by pickled cabbage salad and mixed vegetables 'turshiya'ShopStarters
Many of the traditional warm starter dishes make good vegetarian options e.g. 'Sirene po Shopski' ( white cheese and egg baked in a ceramic pot), 'chushki byurek' (peppers stuffed with white cheese mixture) or baked peppers with a tomato sauce. The most popular soups include; chicken, bean, lentil, nettle and tripe but be sure to try the refreshing cold 'tarator' (yoghurt with cucumber, dill garlic and walnuts) during the summer months.  
Tarator - cold yoghurt soup

Main Courses

Grilled meats are very popular and a safe bet, either in the form of pork or chicken chops or as minced meatballs 'kyufteta or sausage shaped 'kebabcheta' As a side dish potatoes sautéed with garlic and dill are hard to beat, In spring take the opportunity to enjoy the taste of fresh whole lamb cooked on a spit ‘cheverme’ or slow roasted in special ovens, stuffed with rice and innards. Traditional slow cooked stews in pretty earthenware pots combine a variety of seasonal vegetables 'Gyuvech' with meat 'Kavarma' as do the hot sizzler plates known as ‘satch’.
Whole lamb is usually prepared for big celebrations often hosted around Bulgaria

Desserts and Snacks

Bulgarian cuisine is a little poor when it comes to desserts especially in restaurants. Usually the offer is limited to pancakes, ice cream or crème brule, but in the autumn baked pumpkin with honey and walnuts makes a regular appearance on local menus and is a healthy and tasty end to any meal. ‘Banitsa’ is probably the most popular snack in Bulgaria. Thin filo pastry is filled with a variety of mixtures such as custard, white cheese, spinach, leeks or pumpkin, can be found at special bakery shops known as ‘banicharnitsi’. Together with a bottle of ‘Aryan’ (yoghurt drink) this is a filling and tasty snack at any time of day.
You can have Banitsa at any time of day for any meal

And finally just a quick word about some of the things Bulgarians enjoy – things that not everyone will enjoy! These include tripe soup, tongue in butter, and similar delicacies.
Be adventurous and enjoy!


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