Bulgarian cuisine

Bulgarian cuisine is healthy and delicious. It is influenced by its neighbours- Turkey, Greece, Serbia and Romania. Bulgarian cuisine is famous with the rich choice of salads, served with every meal and the great variaty of high- quality dairy products.

Most Bulgarian dishes are oven baked, steamed, or in the form of stew. Deep-frying is not very typical, but grilling - especially different kinds of meats - is very common. Pork meat is the most common meat in the Bulgarian cuisine. Oriental dishes do exist in Bulgarian cuisine with most common being moussaka, gyuvetch, and baklava. A very popular ingredient in Bulgarian cuisine is the Bulgarian white brine cheese called "sirene". It is the main ingredient in many salads, as well as in a variety of pastries. Fish and Chicken are widely eaten and while Beef is less common as most cattle are bred for milk production rather than meat, veal is found in many popular recipes. Bulgaria is a net exporter of Lamb and its own consumption of the meat is prevalent during its production time in spring.

Traditionally Bulgarians have consumed a notable quantity of yoghurt per head and is noted historically for the production of high quality yoghurt, including using a unique variety of micro-organism called Lactobacillus bulgaricus in the manufacturing process. It has even been claimed that yoghurt originates from Bulgaria. Though this cannot be substantiated, Bulgaria has been part of a region that has cultivated and consumed yoghurt from as far back as 3,000 BC.

We have chosen some popular recipes for you, they are all tasty and easy to prepare, so- enjoy!

Shopska salad

Ingredients: 4 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 2 roasted peppers (or fresh green peppers), 2 spoonfuls chopped parsley, 2 spoonfuls chopped red onion (or green onion), Bulgarian white cow cheese.

Preparation: Cut the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in small pieces, cubes if possible. Mix well with the parsley, onion, salt, oil (better with olive oil) and vinegar. Serve with white cheese grated on top.

Tip of BulgariaApartments.bg: add some olives into the Shopska salad to make it taste even better!

Snezhanka (Snow white) salad

Ingredients: 1/2 liter of plain yogurt (three regular containers in Bulgaria), 1/2 kg fresh cucumbers, 1tablespoons of oil, 1 teaspoonful salt, 2-3 tablespoonfuls chopped dill, 2-3 cloves crushed garlic, 2-3 spoonfuls ground walnuts.

Preparation: Strain the yogurt (if it's thick American yogurt, use about 1/2 liter and skip the straining), and cut the pickles/cucumbers into tiny cubes. Mix all the ingredients except for the walnuts. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the salad.

Tip of BulgariaApartments.bg: Another variety is the so called Thracian sallad, which could be made with pickled cucumbers (just reduce the salt into 1/2 teaspoon).

Schkembe chorba (Tripe soup)

Ingredients: 1/2 lb tripe, washed and cut into tiny pieces,
2 large onions, peeled and chopped, 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped, 1 pint milk,1 pint water, 1 dessertspoon flour, seasoning (red dried pepper, garlic, vinegar).

Preparation: Put the tripe, the onion and the parsnip into a saucepan.
Add salt to taste and also the milk and water. Bring to boiling point. Skim well. Simmer slowly for 1 1/2- 2 hours. Mix the flour with a little milk or water to a thin paste. Add it to the soup, and stir while it simmers for 5 minutes longer. In a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic and cheese - sprinkle over the hot soup and serve it immediately.

Tip of BulgariaApartments.bg: The tripe soup is said to be the most effective cure in the morning after a long night with too much drinks, especailly if you add some red hot chilli peppers and a beer.

Chuski burek (stuffed breaded peppers)

Ingredients: 1 kg red peppers, 6 eggs, 250 g brined sheep's cheese, parsley, sunflower oil, salt.

Preparation: Bake, peel and seed the peppers. Mix the crumbled cheese with 4 beaten eggs. Stuff the peppers with the mixture, roll in breadcrumbs and beaten eggs and fry in hot oil. Serve sprinkled with finely chopped parsley.

Tip of BulgariaApartments.bg:You may use baked aubergines or marrows instead of the peppers.

Kavarma

Ingredients: 2 lbs pork (good quality), 1/2 cup lard or 1/2 cup oil, 4 -5 leeks (finely chopped), 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1/3 cup red wine, 1 onion, parsley, 1 small chili pepper.

Preparation: Chop the meat and brown it in the oil, remove from pan. In the same oil, fry the finely cut leeks. Add salt, the tomato paste, paprika and pepper. Pour in 1/2 a cup of water, add the wine and the meat. Let it stew on low heat until the juice has thickened. Serve sprinkled with chopped onions, parsley and a small hot pepper. You can also serve it with french fries, boiled potatoes or rice. Usually Bulgarians cook the kavarma in individual clay pots with covers, which we simply put in the oven while the meat is ready.

Tip of BulgariaApartments.bg: You may try the variant with three kinds of meat- chicken, pork and veal. All kinds of vegetables could be added- carrots, onion, mushrooms.

Kebapche (Minced meat grilled sausage) and Kyufte (Minced meat meatball)

Ingredients For kebapche: 2 lbs minced meat (60% pork, 40% beef), 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cumin. For kyufte: 2 lbs minced meat (60% pork, 40% beef), 1 onion, chopped, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin.

Preparation For kebapche: Mix all ingredients together, mix well. Leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Take out and roll in sausage like pieces. Grill the kebapcheta on the barbecue. Makes about 30 pieces. For kyufte: Mix all ingredients together, mix well. Leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Take out and shape in balls then flatten in patty-like pieces. Fry both sides in hot oil. Makes about 20 pieces.

Tip of BulgariaApartments.bg: Try the kebapche/ kyufte with French fries and Shopska salad.

Sarmi s kiselo zele (Stuffed Cabbage Leaves)

Ingredients: 1 cabbage (pickled), 3 onions (chopped), 1 carrot, 1 root celery, 2 cups white rice, 1 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, bunch of Italian parsley (chopped), 2 tablespoons tomato juice or puree.

Preparation: De-leaf the cabbage. Combine the onion, carrot, celery and cook in the oil until onion turns golden. Add the rice, parsley, salt and the pepper. Use the mixture to fill the leaves, shaping as small bundles. The best way to do it is to put some mixture on a big leaf, put a small leaf on top and wrap the big leaf around the small one. Put in a pot, cover with water and boil. You can bake them in the oven in a casserole pan full of water instead.

Tip of BulgariaApartments.bg: You can make sarmi with young and fresh grape leaves instead of the pickled cabbage.

Banitsa (Bulgarian cheese pastry)

Ingredients: 1 pack of filo dough, 3 eggs, 1 lb Bulgarian cheese (or feta cheese), 3 tablespoons butter, 1 cup of milk or yoghurt.

Preparation: Mix the crumbled cheese, milk and eggs together. Don't over mix - cheese should be lumpy. Melt the butter in a cup. Butter the bottom of a casserole pan. Lay 5-6 sheets of filo dough, one after another (not together) as you spread some butter in between - use a brush for this. Spread some of the cheese mixture on top, lay another 3-4 sheets, spreading butter in between. Repeat until all mixture is used. Lay the last 3-4 sheets on the top with no butter in between. Spread the rest of the butter on top. Cut in portion sized squares and bake in the oven until golden (about 30 minutes on 400 F).

Tip of BulgariaApartments.bg: There are several varieties which include banitsa with spinach, banitsa with milk, banitsa with pumpkin (tikvenik), banitsa with pickled cabbage leaves.