Bulgarian cuisine is considered one of the healthiest in Europe. Bulgaria’s geographical diversity and its warm climate provide all the richness of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. For centuries, the current shape of traditional Bulgarian cuisine has been affected by countries such as Greece and Turkey, but also by Hungary, Italy and the Middle East. All this makes Bulgarian cuisine unusually rich, aromatic and full of various flavors, so that everyone can find something for themselves.
What dishes should you try while in Bulgaria? What is necessary in every meal and is it true that they eat potatoes with bread?
Salads in Bulgarian cuisine
The queen of Bulgarian salads is undoubtedly the shopska salad. It is extremely easy to make and after arriving from Bulgaria, almost everyone makes it at home. Shopska salad consists of diced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sliced pepper (baked or raw), finely chopped onion and parsley. Grated or crushed white sirene cheese (made from cow’s, sheep’s or buffalo sour milk) is sprinkled onto the vegetable hill, and just before serving topping with aromatic vinegar and olives.
Just behind the shopska salad is even simpler snezanka – these are slices of fresh cucumber bathed in yogurt and seasoned with olive oil, garlic, dill and walnuts.
Dairy products and vegetables in Bulgarian delicacies
The combination of dairy products and vegetables in the Bulgarian version will appeal here especially to lovers of vegetarian dishes – a variety of flavors will not be missed here!
At the beginning miszmasz, or Bulgarian scrambled eggs prepared with tomatoes, peppers and sheep’s cheese.
Next – sirene po szopski (cheese baked in a clay dish with tomatoes and eggs), czuszki biurek (breaded and fried peppers stuffed with cheese) and Greece-originating moussaka.
Hot and cold soups in Bulgarian cuisine
Soups in Bulgarian cuisine occupy a special place. The richness of available vegetables, herbs and spices makes their flavors unique. What’s more, for example, when it comes to the tarator cold soup, each chef has their own ways of seasoning it, which is why this soup in different restaurants or different hosts may have different ingredients.
Most often, however, we find chopped cucumber, yogurt with a little water and curd, olive oil and garlic.
What hot soups are worth eating in Bulgaria?
- Bob czorba – tomato soup with the addition of ground paprika and fresh mint,
- Lentil soup,which, in addition to the main ingredient, contains leeks, onions, celery and tomatoes, and is seasoned with vinegar,
- Szkembe czorba – Bulgarian tripe soup, heavily spiced with ground paprika, garlic and wine vinegar.
Meat dishes in Bulgarian cuisine
Stews, meatballs and grilled meat – this is most likely to be expected in the case of meat dishes in Bulgarian cuisine.
The following are worth recommending:
- Kawarma – pork stew with tomatoes and peppers, stewed in red wine.
- Gjuwecz – goulash with pork, onion, tomatoes, yogurt and sheep’s cheese. All ingredients are baked in a clay dish.
- Sziszczeta – shashlik from lamb, poultry and pork, and vegetables.
- Kebabcze – oblong chops of minced meat.
Fishes and seafood
Fish in Bulgaria is eaten all year round – from small fish eaten whole (caca), to slightly larger fish, eaten without head, to large fish served whole or in the form of a fillet.
What species of fish can we expect in Bulgarian cuisine?
We will find sea bass, rainbow trout, flatfish, mackerel, belona, flounder, dorada, turbot and mullet. Grilled fish are the most popular here. As befits a coastal country, there are also seafood in the form of crabs and mussels.
Czubrica – a spice of Bulgarian cuisine
Irreplaceable in Bulgarian cuisine, czubrica can come in three forms:
- dried savory,
- red czubrica, in which next to the savory are hot and sweet peppers, garlic, rosemary and salt, and sometimes also dried tomatoes, thyme, basil and onion,
- green czubrica, in which, apart from the savory, we find green peppers, onions, parsley, sugar, salt, thyme, dill, fenugreek and lovage.
Bread in Bulgarian cuisine
Bread plays a special role in Bulgarian cuisine, because it is served with every dish – and yes, even potatoes! Wheat bread made of white or wholegrain flour is most often eaten here.
Popular drinks in Bulgaria
Popular, traditional Bulgarian drinks are boza (a slightly fermented drink made from wheat), as well as ajran (made from yogurt and water, known from Turkish cuisine). Bulgarians drink a lot of fruit juice and herbal teas, as well as strong espresso coffee.
Traditional Bulgarian alcohols
Bulgaria is famous for rakija – a strong vodka with a delicate fruit flavor. This 40% brandy is most often made of grapes, apricots, plums and peaches. In addition to rakia, however, we find here other popular alcohols:
- Pliska cognac,
- Anise liqueur (mastika),
- Red wines (Pamid, Mavrud, Gymza),
- White wines (Muskat, Misket, Tamianka),
- Beers (Zagorka, Kamenitz, Astika).
Bulgarian cakes and desserts are very sweet and filling, and at the same time full of flavor. For example, baklava is a dessert made of flaky dough (also called filo) stuffed with nuts and topped with honey and lemon syrup. In turn, tikwenik are thin slices of puff pastry with pumpkin mass, nuts, cinnamon and honey. Palacinka are pancakes with sweet filling, and gris is semolina halva.
What delicacies to bring from Bulgaria?
The atmosphere, smells and charm of Bulgarian feasts in local restaurants can only be remembered. Fortunately, however, there are many delicacies that you can and should bring with you from Bulgaria. These can be, for example, lokumi – jelly with almonds, nuts and coconut, or yellow kaszkawał cheese, as well as jam (rose!) And figs in syrup. The spices are worth stocking with the aforementioned czubrica, and bringing rakija or mastika from Bulgaria is a small tradition!