Macedonian cuisine is a perfect mix between Mediterranean and European cuisine. Macedonian cuisine is just another symbol of Macedonia’s rich tradition.
Macedonia is a land of many tastes and all of them with a unique story and background. With this article we’ll try to familiarize you with the most unique tastes of Macedonia, some of which you must try when visiting the country.
We’ll kick start this must-try list with the fastest food you’ll find in every city and village in the country, Burek! Burek is traditional Macedonian pastry dish which is simple to make and even simpler to bake. It is made from layers of dough, alternating with layers of other filling in a circular baking pan and then topped with a final layer of dough. Traditionally it may be filled with minced meet and onions or with white cheese. Nowadays, however, modern bakeries offer cheese and spinach, apple, potatoes, mushroom and pizza-Burek as well. The traditional drink to have with burek is a glass of yoghurt, and you can have it for breakfast or as a leisurely snack. It is tipped out piping hot from their tins and sold as family-sized whole pies or cut into quarters. Burek is also considered to be an excellent after-party snack; bakeries and food shops are usually open until late serving this tasty morsel.
We continue the list with another Macedonian trademark quick meal: Ajvar – one of the tastes that best captures the essence of Macedonia. The one and only Ajvar is traditional Macedonian recipe, which is inherited from generation to generation. It is made of roasted red peppers, eggplant, oil and salt. It takes a lot of work and days to prepare, so usually the whole family works together. Traditionally it is made in mid-autumn, when the red peppers are most abundant. Subsequently, it is conserved in glass jars and consumed throughout the year (although in the most household stocks do not last until the spring). Ajvar is usually eaten as a spread, over a slice of bread, and sometimes served with a slice of cheese. Believe us; it is quite delicious!
Continuing on to the big guns of Macedonian cuisine, Tavče gravče (baked beans in a pot) is one of Macedonia’s trademark recipes. So much so, in fact, that the chances that you’ll find only one recipe in a conventional cookbook are very slim. Recipes are transferred from generation to generation and there are no precise measurements or techniques that can be followed. In every household, there is one or more mysterious ingredients to add. Tavče gravče is the perfect autumn and winter meal, although you will find it served all-year round. This meal is to the Macedonians what fish and chips is to the British, fondue to the French and pasta to the Italians.
Sarma and Dolma are one of the most favourite meals in Macedonia. Sarma is made in a lot of variations: with brine cabbage, fresh cabbage, vine leaves or another tree leaf. The small wraps of these leaves are filled mainly with mixed ground meat (pork, beef, lamb and any other meat), rice and smoked meat cooked in vegetable stock. Dolma is also a traditional Macedonian meal and it is prepared by the same ingredients, with the only difference it is stuffed in peppers (it can be either green or red peppers). Sarma and Dolma can also be cooked without meat in the stuffing, so they are often served during the fasting periods in the country and most notably are the main dish with fish on Christmas Eve.
Macedonians love grilled meat and when we say grilled meat, we mean Kebaps and Pleskavica (Kebab and Burger) which are the most popular. Kebap is a traditional recipe for classic dish of spiced mixed minced (ground) meat shaped into small bite sized pieces and grilled before serving. Kebaps are often served with onions, tomatoes, hot small peppers and french fries. Pleskavica is a mixture of one or more ground meat spiced with salt, peppers, onions and garlic. The peppers can be sweet or hot depending on one’s taste. Like hamburgers, the preferred method of cooking is grilling. Their distinctive taste is developed by mixing and then refrigerating the ingredients for several hours so that the flavors can meld. There are many variations on how pleskavica can be served: all by itself on a plate with grilled onions as a side dish, in buns or between thick flat bread known as lepcinja (pita bread). Chopped tomatoes and onions, french fries, ajvar and kajmak can be served alongside (or as toppings).
For desserts we choose Alva, one the most popular desserts in Macedonia. One of the hardest aspects of a fast or a strict dietary regimen is avoiding tempting sweets and finding acceptable substitutes for dessert courses. But, you can consume alva during your fasting or diet since it is cholesterol free. It is a dessert that is easily made and it can be prepared for about 20 minutes and it is most often served with a cup of hot coffee. Alva can also be served with some toppings and our favourite are honey and cinnamon.
There are many things to choose from, hope you have the chance to try at least one of these meals when you visit Macedonia.