Serbian culinary specialties you need to try when in Belgrade
Considering the geographic location and century-long history, Belgrade cuisine is, to put it mildly, as various and delicious as one can imagine.
One of the favourite pastimes for most Serbs and Belgrade residents is preparing and enjoying in food. Although in most cases people live near very big supermarkets where you can buy all sorts of things, buying in supermarket has become a major event, with people pushing the overloaded shopping trolleys and the very sight of it might make you feel that the end of the world is near. There are the offical state and religious holidays just like in any country, however, there are also family saint patron celebrations (the so-called „slava“ celebrations) organised each year where each family sets out to prepare an unforgettable feast for its members and friends. Many families even tend to spend wisely throughout the year and save money for this very occasion and offer their guests a dining table full of delicius food, in the amount quite sufficient to feed a small army regiment.
Guests are more than welcome and gladly taken by their Belgrade hosts to visit some of the old and new Serbian restaurants and taverns. Apart from the culinary enjoyment, the guests will experience the atmosphere they’ll never forget. The dining table in front of them will as usual display all the Sebian specialties – the barbecue, kaymak cream, mixture of peppers (ajvar), sour cabbage, pies, proja (cornbread pie) with cheese and sorrel vegetables, prebranac beans, sarma rolls, pihtije (meat jelly). No matter whether this is lunch or dinner, in some cases even breakfast, any such dish simply must be accompanied by good rakia or wine afterwards, and this can be counted in liters. Finally, the dessert typically includes baklava, in the Turkish, Greek and Bulgarian style, plum dumplings, apple pies, walnut biscuits and many other sweets, very often of Turkish origin which dominated this area for centuries.
No one is really sure who invented the barbecue, but be sure that whenever you come to Serbia as a guest, your hosts will not let you go away without tasting the Serbian barbecue, such as grilled sausages, steaks, rolled meat, chicken wings, cevap rolls, burgers and raznjici (chicken and pork meat on the stick). For us, the secret of its highness, the barbecue, is not only in the way of preparation, but the high quality meat.
We could easily write a book on Serbian specialties, but here are the most famous ones.
Ajvar is a traditional Serbian dish made of red peppers and eggplants. It is normally prepared in autumn on an old-fashioned wood furnace, in wide-bottomed pots, and is a favourite meal in wintertime, the traditional period for eating the autumn meals. It is usually served as a side dish, but you can enjoy it by simply spreading it over the slice of bread.
Kaymak cream is very well-known and goes perfectly with cevapi and traditional Serbian dishes, or independently as a side dish, and the method of preparation differs depending on the region. It is still not known whether it actually comes from this region as its name comes from the Turkish language, but it was accepted as the traditional Serbian product and is very much loved.
Sour cabbage goes best with rakia before the lunch. It is prepared in late autumn and early winter, and it is left in barrels to get the natural aroma and is served afterwards as the main salad meal, rich in vitamin C. The water the cabbage is put in, the so-called „rasol“ is the perfect medicine for hangover. The story of famous sarma goes naturally when talking about sour cabbage. It is prepared with minced meat, fried with rice and rolled inside the leaf of sour cabbage. The rolls are then placed into a deep pot and left to simmer for hours.
Prebranac, the large-sized beans, seasoned and roasted in the oven, has the taste which can easily outdo any meat. One serving of prebranac will get you through the day, however, this meal is usually served as a side dish.
Typical starters in slava celebrations are pihtije (meat jelly). It’s made of pork (usually ears, tail and similar parts you would otherwise throw away) and it’s cooked untl it releases fat and then is left to cool. An important ingredient is garlic which adds to the unique taste, so special and appealing to everybody.
Proja (cornbread pie) and various pies can be served as a starter, or even as a dessert, salty or sweet. When served as a starter meal, pies usually contain cheese, ajvar, spinach, while sweet pies with apples, walnuts, pumpkin are served as a dessert with coffee.
The impact of century-long Ottoman rule is most visible in our languge and our specialties. Some of the perfectly made baklavas, tulumbe rolls and tufahije, which almost always include walnuts and melted sugar will sweeten the mind of even the most discerning guests. Not only Turks have contributed to these fantastic desserts, as our dining tables very often offer the tradidional Austrian specialty – the plum dumplings.
Serbia is rich in this gorgeous, soury fruit and this specialty was long present in our country and is now considered the inherent part of Serbian cuisine and is often served instead of dinner or lunch. These dumplings can also include raspberries, sour cherries and other fruit.
Plum, quince, pear and apricot are often mentioned in the Serbian culinary world, but for different reasons. Some of the specialties which will definitely set your mind and senses in full motion is actually the slivovitza brandy, and also, the quince, apricot and pear brandy. This is why each feast starts with this famous beverage and often ends with „rasol“, as we mentioned above.
If you’re coming to Belgrade, Novi apartmani suggests that you take at least one evening off and set out to explore the Serbian traditional cuisine. The best starting point for such a complex endeavour will definitely be the Skadarlija street. So, before you set out, check out the web site
www.noviapartmani.com and in the section STRICT CENTER, pick an apartment which will live up to all your criteria. Whichever you choose, you’ll be surrounded by some of the best traditional restaurants in Belgrade, and you can enjoy all these local specialties all day and even all night.
Welcome and bon appetit!