Bosnian Cuisine: The Most Delicious Dishes to Try!
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Last Updated on July 10, 2021
One of the best parts of travel is getting to try the local cuisine. Traditional Bosnian cuisine is full of flavour, fresh vegetables and lots of meat. Bosnian dishes are often built around meat, but they also love fresh salads and cheese. In fact, you’ll find lots of local cheeses wherever you go in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A few of the most popular are Livanjski, Travnički and Bosnian smoked cheese.
It is difficult – though not impossible – to be a vegetarian in Bosnia. Veganism, however, is much more difficult if you are interested in eating local foods. However, there are more and more vegan shops opening up, some of which offer meat free versions of tradition Bosnian food.
There is a lot of crossover in the cuisine of the Balkans. A lot of dishes found in Bosnia can be found in neighbouring countries, as well. This is fantastic if you fall in love with a dish (or five!) and want to keep travelling around. But if you’re only visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, or starting your Balkan travel here, you probably want to know what’s available. There are also several traditional meals unique to the cuisine of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here are all the best tradtional Bosnian food you’ll want to eat during your next trip.
14 Delicious Dishes in Bosnia and Herzegovina Cuisine You Need to Try!
If you love bread stuffed with delicious filling then you’re in luck. Pita (Bosnian for pie) is one of the most common Bosnian street foods, and can be found in any bakery throughout the country. The most popular type of pita is Burek. a meat filled pastry that is rolled into a spiral and cut into servings like a pie.
In Bosnia, burek refers specifically to a meat filled pastry, but there are several other similar pastries that are collectively called pita with different fillings. Variants include cheese (sirnica), potato (krumpiruša), pumpkin (tikvenjača) and spinach and cheese (zeljanica). Both krumpiruša and tikvenjača are typically vegan, but it’s worth asking double checking with the bakery.
People say that the smell of somun is the smell of Ramadan. These small, spongy breads are traditionally baked in wood fires, and for Ramadan are sprinkled with a special black seed (Habbatul barakah – “the blessed seed”) which both gives them their alluring scent and is believed to bring prosperity and luck.
As the name suggests, this one is specific to Bosnian cuisine! Bosanski Lonac (or “Bosnian Pot”) is a rich Bosnian stew made by filling a large pot with alternating layers of meat and vegetables in water and cooking it for four hours. The strength of this dish lies in its flexibility; the rich used to use many different fine meats whilst the poor made do with whatever they had. So no matter what your tastes, you can’t go wrong!
Ćevapi is a staple of Bosnian cuisine, and a must try, unless you’re vegetarian. It is made of grilled minced meat rolled into sausage shape. Typically five to ten ćevapi are served in flatbreads (somun) with different relishes, most commonly onion, ajvar (a red pepper and olive oil condiment), sour cream and different Bosnian cheeses. Bosnians normally eat this for lunch, dinner or snack, although dinner isn’t entirely out of the question.
One of the most hearty dishes of Bosnian cuisine, Ćutfe are traditional meatballs served in a thick tomato-based sauce. The sauce can be spiced according to taste, and the meatballs themselves are a simple combination of minced meat, eggs, garlic, onion and breadcrumbs. Best served with mashed potatoes, some crunchy bread, or even on their own.
This traditional Bosnian food is often compared to a dumpling or pierogi. Klepe are made by stuffing dough with sharp cheese or minced meat (beef or lamb) and then steaming it. Once ready, they are doused in pavlaka (a sour cream sauce) or garlic sauce.
This very filling Bosnian dish has its roots in the Ottoman Empire, though it has made its way through the Balkans and beyond. Sarma are stuffed rolls, made by wrapping a filling of some kind (usually ground meat, rice and spices) with a leafy vegetable, most often cabbage, though there are variations all across the Balkans.
Dolma and japrak are similar, but use grape leaves. Dolma is only filled with rice, while japrak has rice and minced rice. There is also a traditional Bosnian food called Soğan dolması which is onions stuffed with rice and minced meat.
Lastly, punjena paprika is another similar traditional Bosnian food. It is made by stuffing bell peppers with meat and rice in a bed of tomato sauce.
Suho meso (dried meat)
As previously mentioned, meat is an essential part of Bosnian cuisine. Well, this one-ingredient dish goes a long way! Suho meso literally means “dried meat”, and is prepared by curing smoked beef or pork in salt for several days before leaving it to dry under a fire for even longer, sometimes for weeks. As with many dried meat dishes, it was originally intended to make sure the meat didn’t spoil over the winter months, and the correct process takes a lot of skill and expertise to perfect.
Begova Čorba (Bey’s stew)
Begova Čorba is one of the dishes specific to Bosnia and Herzegovina cuisine. Although it has origins in the Ottoman Empire. It is a hearty stew made of slow cooked chicken and vegetables, served in a clay bowl with sour cream garnish. This dish is most popular during holidays and other festivities.
Traditional Bosnian Desserts
Originally a Persian dish that the Ottomans added to Bosnia and Herzegovina cuisine, these apples stewed in sugar water are then filled with walnuts and cream, then baked and, as with many Bosnian desserts, doused in sugar syrup. Each portion is traditionally served chilled in its own large glass.
One for the sticky dessert lovers out there! Baklava is a popular Bosnian dessert made from layers of filo pastry intertwined with chopped walnuts and agda – a cooked mixture of sugar and water. These are then cut into diamond shapes for serving. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, baklava is considered a special occasion delicacy, and is often served at Christmas, Eid and other such holidays.
If you’ve ever eaten a churro, then you’ll be somewhat familiar with Tulumba. Dough is deep fried and dipped in sugar syrup while still hot, then consumed once cooled. Tulumba is often consumed at Iftar, the daily evening meal for Muslim families during Ramadan, though today it has become one of the most popular Bosnian street foods.
These will be familiar, at least in principle, to many people around the world. Krofne are large, airy doughnuts that are filled with marmalade, chocolate, jam, jelly and all manner of other sweet substances. They are similar to Berliner pastries from Central Europe, and for extra decadence can be finished with a dusting of icing sugar.
This Herzegovinian dish derives its name from “smokve”, the local term for figs. There are no figs in Bosnia, so this dish is considered one of the most Herzegovinian of them all. To make it, dough is combined with a fig-syrup and baked into little flat discs that are doused in a sherbet concoction. Smokvara is very sweet, and is best accompanied by a cup of strong Bosnian coffee to take the edge off.
Coffee in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a big deal. It is part of the country’s cultural identity! This makes it an essential part of Bosnian cuisine.
Proper kahva (Bosnian coffee) should be made by first roasting coffee beans, then manually grinding them. The powder is then put into a džezva – a long-handled metal pot, which is heated beforehand – and boiled water is added. Your kahva should be served alongside a ceramic cup of hot water. To drink it, first add the hot water to the džezva, then take a spoonful of the foam from the top and add the coffee to your cup, then place the spoonful of foam on top.
Each kahva should be served with a glass of water to sip from before tasting the coffee, which serves as a palate cleanser. Sip first, then enjoy the rich notes of your coffee!
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