FAQ server : Bulgaria


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Bulgarian cuisine

(by Rumi Radenska)

 
BULGARIAN CUISINE
 
Bulgaria is a relatively old state. It was founded in 7th century a.d.
From that time until the 18th century Bulgarian people used to eat the usual
for Europeans food: meats, fish, bread, raw fruits and vegetables.
By the end of the 18th and especially in the 19th century Bulgarian people
developed their specific cuisine. Basic ingredients in the Bulgarian
kitchen are:
 
1. Meats: pork, beef, lamb, chicken, fish.
 
2. Dairy products: the main type of milk Bulgarians eat is plain yogurt.
They prepare it generally from cow milk, but you can get yogurt made
from sheep milk or buffalo-cow milk, which are much more tasty than cow yogurt.
Almost everyone in Bulgaria eats yogurt every day - from age of 3 months until
his/her death. There are two main kinds of cheese: feta (white cheese) and
yellow cheese. Feta is two types: cow feta and sheep feta. Bulgarians prefer
to use cow feta in cooking and to eat sheep feta. Yellow cheese is used
as in the U.S. You can buy original Bulgarian feta in Mediterranean stores
in the U.S.
 
3. Rice, corn, beans, lentils.
 
4. Vegetables: potatos, cabbage(green and red), carrots, tomatos, green peppers,
eggplants, cucumbers, garlic, zucchini, pumpkin, onions (yellow and green),
peas, celery, spinach, cauliflower, lima beans, lettuce, radishes,
turnip, gumbo, mushrooms, olives.
 
5. Fruits: cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries,
apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, watermelons, melons, grapes, quinces,
medlars.
 
6. Nuts: peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chestnuts.
 
7. Spices: parsley, mint, savory, paprika.
 
8. Herbs: many different, from thyme to milfoil. They are used in cooking and
for herb teas.
 
All these basic ingredients are grown in Bulgaria.
 
By the end of the last century Bulgaria extended its economic connections with
Middle and West European countries. This way, little by little, people in
Bulgaria started to use some common European foods like pasta, mayonnaise,
cream, and also some fruits and vegetables which are not grown in the country.
Today the Bulgarian cuisine is a mixture of typical Bulgarian courses and
common for all world foods.
 
In the restaurants you may purchase steaks, chops, hamburgers usually roasted,
broiled or barbequed with garnish from potatos, beans, salad and Bulgarian type
of salsa called luttennitza. In the largest cities of the country there are
special restaurants for fried chicken, fish, pizza, spaghetti. In the capital
Sofia you can taste in a special restaurants German, Russian, Italian, Korean,
Vietnamese, and Japanese food. Traveling in the countryside you can always
buy near the road 'kebbabchetta' and 'kyuftetta' - Bulgarian barbequed
hamburgers with oblong or round shape.
 
Home cooking is more varying and depends on many factors, but the most
important one is the family cooking tradition. For example, I'm still cooking
some courses my grandmother used to cook a long time ago. Although Bulgaria is
a small country, there is a difference in cooking traditions between its North
and South parts.
 
A distinctive feature of Bulgarian home cooking is that you start with the
cooking of the meat and gradually adding all other ingredients. At the end of
the cooking you have completely finished the course in one sausepan. This method
saves time, especially if you work from scratch.
 
Example:
 
MEAT WITH POTATOS
 
Meat (pork, beef or chicken) - 1 1/2 lb.
1 yellow onion
1 carrot
1 stick selery
1 Italian pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
5 potatos
1 can (6-8 oz.) tomato sause
2 tbsp. parsley
2 cups hot water
1/4 cup vegetable oil (optionally)
 
If you'd like to try, follow the steps:
 
1. Cut the meat into 2" pieces. Put in the sausepan with the salt, cover and
cook on the top of the range at medium heat, stiring ocasionally. At this point
you can add the oil.
 
2. Meanwhile, peel onion and carrot and chop them finely. Add to meat and
stir. Slice selery and green pepper, add and stir. In 5 min. add paprika, stir,
add water.
 
3. Cover and cook 1/2 hour. Meanwile peel potatos and cut them into cubes. Add
to meat, cook 15 min.
 
4. Add tomato sause, cook 5 min. Add parsley. Swich off the oven, let stay on
it for 10 min. Serve. Makes 4-6 servings.
 
Note. If you cook chicken, reduce cooking time in step 3 to 10 min. instead of
1/2 hour.
 
Although slow cooking was very appreciated in the old Bulgarian kitchen,
today many Bulgarian women prefer quick dishes.
 
Some easy typical Bulgarian recipies:
 
GREEN SALAD
 
1/2 head lettuce (your favorite type), finely chopped
1 cucumber, cut into two longwise and sliced
2 large tomatos, cut into two and sliced
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 stick selery, sliced
1/2 bunch of each: parsley, dill and mint, finely chopped
Salad dressing, made from 4 tbsp vegetable or olive oil, 4 tbsp lemon juice and
1/2 tsp salt.
 
Put all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.
 
 
COLD YOGURT SOUP (TARRATTOR)
 
1 lb. plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 peeled and finelly choped cucumber
2 cloves garlic, pound up
4 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh dill
1/2 finelly chopped walnuts (optional)
 
In a large bowl mix yogurt and water untill smooth. Add all other ingredients,
stir well. Serve. Makes 6-8 servings. In hot summer days you can add  1 cube
ice in each serving bowl.
 
LUTTENNITZA
(Garnish for broiled of barbequed meats)
 
1 can (8 oz.) Contadina tomato paste
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pound up.
 
In a medium size bowl mix well all ingredients. Serve. Makes 4-6 servings.
I'm grateful for this recepie to Mrs. Violetta Peev from Oakton, VA.
 
EGGPLANT DIP
 
1 eggplant, baked, peeled and cut into cubes
1/2 cup tomato paste
6 italian peppers, baked, peeled, seedless, cut
1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bunch parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
 
Put all ingredients in the blender. Mix at high for 2 min. Serve.
 
LAMB WITH GREEN ONIONS
 
2 lb. lamb, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
5 bunches of green onions, cut into 1" pieces
2 cups hot water, divided
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp butter (optionally)
 
Put lamb in wide, but not deep sausepan. Add 1/2 cup hot water and if desired,
butter, cover. Put on the top of range at medium heat for 2 hours. In 1/2 hour
add onions, salt, paprika, black pepper and 1/2 cup hot water, stir. Cook for
another 1/2 hour, add 1/2 cup hot water, stir. Repeat the latter in 1/2 hour,
using the last 1/2 cup hot water. Cover and cook for 1/2 hour. Switch off
the range, let stay for 15 min. Serve warm.
 
BANNITZA
In old times and now every Bulgarian family eats BANITZA on holidays as a
dessert. In the BANITZA, prepared for Christmas, one puts wishes for happy,
healty, and successful year.
 
12 fillo sheets (leaves)
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
5 eggs, divided
1 stick butter or margarine or 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 stick margarine
  melted
1 1/2 cup Seltzer soda (or other type, but colorless)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (optionally)
 
Preheat oven to 375. Grease 9X13X1 1/2" pan. In a small bowl put 4 eggs and
feta cheese, mix well. Put the first fillo sheet on the bottom of the pan,
sprinkle with one tbsp melted butter, repeat with 3 more sheets. On the 4th
sheet put 1/2 of the egg-cheese mixture, spread it on the sheet. Order the same
way the next 4 sheets, put the other half of the egg-cheese mixture, cover
with the last 4 fillo sheets.
Cut the BANNITZA into squares with sharp knife. Pour the rest of the butter on
the cuttings. Combine egg and soda, mix well and pour on the top of the
BANNITZA. Bake 20-25 min. or until golden-brown. Take out of the oven,
sprinkle with cold water, cover with paper towel and kitchen fabric towel,
and let stay for 10 min. Serve hot. If desired, before serving sift with
granulated sugar. Makes 12 servings.
 
You can reheat the BANNITZA in a microwave for 3 min. or in a regular oven for
10 min. at 375. Serve for breakfast with plain yogurt.
 
Note. When working with fillo leaves, follow strictly instructions outside
the box.
 
Bulgarian people prepare many vegetarian foods, different pancakes, salads, etc.
 
Hope you enjoy reading/eating.
 

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