Traditional Food In Bulgaria

traditional food in bulgaria
| 4 min read

Balanced, mild, fresh, healthy, and diverse that is the identity of Bulgaria’s traditional cuisine. As one of the oldest countries in Europe, Bulgaria offers a rich culture and tradition from its architecture to its food. Travelers visiting Bulgaria knows that it is a haven for mountaineers, hikers, and nature lovers since it is surrounded by mountains and breathtaking terrains. It is also a place ideal for all seasons. During the summer, the Black Sea is the perfect place to go to and the mountains are the best choice to for skiing during the winter. All seasons are accompanied by appetizing traditional food that is full of fresh vegetables and the highest quality cheese and dairy products from the country. Bulgarian traditional cuisine is different from its Balkan neighbors because its salads, pastries, and meat classics are uniquely fantastic in its own way. These are the most common yet the top 10 traditional foods you can find in Bulgaria.

1. Banitsa: pastry

Banitsa borzo
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user borzo used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Banitsa is a famous breakfast pastry in Bulgaria. The pastry reflects the simple food tradition of the country but at the same time, it also boasts its own rich history. As delicious at it may taste, it is a complicated dish to prepare. The pastry is a mix of eggs, cheese, and vegetables that are baked together. The banitsa is made during Christmas and New Year to invite good luck.

2. Shopska salata : healthy salad

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Popo le Chien used under CC0

The well-known salad from Bulgaria is simply made up of sliced or diced tomatoes, onions, and cucumber topped with some pepper, grated sirene cheese, and some parsley. The simple dish is a complimentary appetizer for any Balkan or Bulgarian meal. The shopska salata dates back to the 1950s. The colors of the salad white, green, and red also reflect the colors of Bulgaria’s flag making it an iconic and internationally known salad from Bulgaria.

3. Lyutenitsa: vegetable relish

Just like we have jams, butter, and chocolate spreads to put on our toasts, Bulgarians have Lyutenitsa. In Bulgaria, they relish tomatoes with pepper and put it on their toasts during breakfast or as a snack any time of the day. Most Bulgarian families commonly cook or prepare this relish during autumn and the pungent smell of the dish permeates the air during the season. You can also find them in groceries where they are sold in jars for commercial purposes.

4. Musaka: minced meat casserole

If you travel to Bulgaria looking for a man to marry, it is a “standard” for the native men that the women they are going to live their whole lives with, must know how to cook Musaka. This dish is the perfect combination of eggs, meat, and potatoes. It is a layer of three main ingredients that are perfect for each other. It is a time consuming and complex dish but a great favourite.

5. Shkembe chorba: tripe soup

Shkembe-chorba in Kardzhali 2011
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bin im Garten used under CC BY-SA 3.0

You need to have the guts to try this dish. This alone makes it a territory only for adults. The rich spices in Shkembe chorba are quite powerful and not for the faint-hearted. This firey tripe soup is best enjoyed with a cold beer. Usually cooked with vinegar, oil, salt, and crude pepper, Bulgarians are just too generous with their spices while preparing this soup.

6. Kebapche: grilled minced meat

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Biso used under CC BY 3.0

Perfect with some beer or fruit smoothies, Kebapche is the Bulgarian version of Romanian mititei. Prepared with minced meat, this Bulgarian grilled meal is usually made from pork or a mix of beef and pork that is spiced with black pepper and cumin to add taste and flavor to the dish. The meat has a long shape much like a hotdog. It is usually served in threes along with side dishes of your choice.

7. Tarator: cold cucumber soup

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ikonact used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A yogurt-based soup that is cold and light, tarator is the best treat you can have during a hot summer. A mix of cucumbers, walnuts, dill, and garlic infused with ice, it is definitely a healthy vegetarian soup that will help you chill during the hot summers in Bulgaria. It is a variant of shkembe chorba that is spicy and hot. You can definitely try both the soups whenever you visit the country and want a taste of traditional Bulgarian food.

8. Lozovi sarmi: stuffed grape leaves

This creative method of cooking where you stuff grape leaves with minced meat, rice, yogurt, and a preferred selection of herbs can be overwhelming to taste. Usually served as a dessert or an appetizer, it can also be the main dish, The experience you have with this contemporary yet unique dish will be a good start when trying to immerse yourself in traditional Bulgarian food.

9. Tikvenik: sweet pumpkin pie

This treat is made mostly out of a pumpkin and is ideal as a vegan dessert for special occasions like Christmas or New Year. The thin yet puffy pastry is usually baked with layers of pumpkins and walnuts. The best Tikvenik has a crispy and golden brown crust with a soft inside for a beautiful contrasting texture.

10. Rakia: brandy

Source: Photo by Flickr user Radoslav Minchev used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Looking for traditional Bulgarian brandy is never easy. Rakia is made within Bulgarian households. It is usually made out of a variety of fruits such as grapes and berries. The fruity homemade brandy is just stunning and surprising. The alcohol concentration of this spirit can go as high as 40% if you buy commercialized versions of the brandy. However, if you want to taste a traditional Rakia look for a Bulgarian family to host their own drinking party with you along with their own homemade drink.

A grand Bulgarian feast

Visit Bulgaria and get stuffed with traditional Bulgarian food. Bulgaria’s food is made to please both locals and tourists alike. The food is infused with the best ingredients found in the country. Their love for vegetables, fruits, and cheese results in a full European treat that has no other counterpart. Remember not to miss out on the best traditional foods when you visit Bulgaria.

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