From Balkan's sushi to Turkish and Greek pastries, Bulgaria has it all. Because of the country`s unique location, Bulgarians have acquired many different cooking techniques throughout the centuries, as numerous tribes and nations from all over the world have crossed the country. All those people have left something behind and influenced the Bulgarian culture and cuisine. Bulgarian cuisine, therefore, combines a lot of cultures in one place. So, let me introduce you top 3 savory dishes you must try in Bulgaria.
Sarma, or as I like to call it, Bulgarian Sushi, is like the original Japanese one made with rice wrapped in leaves. There are equivalents of sarma in most Balkan countries, where just the rice stuffing differs in each version. In the Bulgarian version, the leaves are either grape or cabbage ones. The recipe is not difficult at all, and this dish is for sure something extravagant because it is less popular than sushi and therefore more interesting. All national dishes are adapted to flora and fauna of the country as well as to people habits for food preparation. Therefore, the Bulgarian sarma is served warm, as opposed to sushi, which is consumed cooled. The vegan version of sarma, for example, is a popular Christmas Eve's meal in Bulgaria – the last day of the Christmas fasting period. Here, I give you two recommendation for places where you can try sarma – the restaurant near the Rila monastery, called "Tsarev vrah" (The king's peak) and a tavern in the central part of Bulgaria, near the ethnographical complex "Etar", called "Ether".
This type of pie is probably the most popular Bulgarian (and Balkan) pastry. It exists since the establishment of Bulgaria as a country, and even before that. Banitsa, in a way, represents the circle of life because its recipe is passed down to every generation, and also because it is a typical dish for New Year's Eve – we bake the good-luck charms in it and hope that the new year will be better than the old one. Every Bulgarian could tell you a different recipe. Banitsa could be "rolled" (“vita banitsa” in Bulgarian) or “lazy” (“marzeliva banitsa”), which means that the filo pastry sheets are arranged like those of lasagna. There are probably as many versions of Banitsa as there are people in Bulgaria. Banitsa could be sweet or sour, with meat or even vegan. The most popular version is with white feta cheese. While Banitsa is found in every town and village and in numerous versions, I want to make it easier for you, so to enjoy this pie, I propose you to go to the "Petraki Bakery" in Stara Zagora or the "Happy bakery" in Sofia.
This is a typical Bulgarian dessert pastry, although it could be found in Romanian and Serbian cuisine as well. It is made out of dough, just like doughnuts, but without a hole in the middle. Nevertheless, the mekitsi (plural for “mekitsa”) could be twisted and look like a bow-tie, just formed into small balls or other forms. The preparation of mekitsa is not at all difficult. You just need patience and a sweet tooth. Mekitsi are every Bulgarian's favourite childhood memory, and perhaps this is why in Sofia, there is a whole bakery dedicated to mekitsa – “Mekitsa and coffee” bakery. Another option for trying the delicious dessert is the “ Rainbow factory” bakery, also located in Sofia.
Bulgarian cuisine is attractive for every foreign visitor because it has a lot to offer. Influenced by local flora and fauna, it combines some of the world's tastiest and most interesting dishes in one place. That's what inspired me to share with your these top three savory dishes you must try in Bulgaria. While traveling throughout the country, the local food is the best way to completely sink into the atmosphere of the more than 1300-years-old Bulgarian culture!
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