Food and Wine
Bulgarian cuisine is simple, but also one of the tastiest in Europe. It uses a lot of flavour-packed local vegetables and in case you are a vegetarian, you will have a wide variety of non-meat dishes to choose from. There are a lot of Orient influences implemented with peasant-style simplicity in the traditional cuisine. Bulgarians use a lot of herbs and every single herb goes with a different dish. Different regions in Bulgaria have their local, typical specialties. It is always worth a discovery.
Bulgaria is the birthplace of the bacteria required for the preparation of yogurt. This priceless microorganism is scientifically called Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. Being a powerful antioxidant, Bulgarian yogurt is a basic ingredient of a Bulgarian-style health diet.
The most popular Bulgarian appetizers are the Slivova (plum brandy), Grozdova (grape brandy) and the Mastika (anise). Bulgarians always start the meal with a salad…. and a small Slivova. In fact, the brandy is so powerful that locals only drink it while eating a salad. It is believed that the oil and vinegar dressing absorbs some of Rakia’s strength.
Wine history in the country goes back to prehistoric times. The ancient Thracians were exceptional viticulturists and wine-makers. That is why Homer speaks of the ships, which every day brought wine from Thrace to the camp of the Greeks at Troy. Wine-making is deeply rooted in the traditional Bulgarian culture. There are 5 different wine regions in Bulgaria today – Northern Region: the Danube River Plains, Eastern Region: the Black Sea Coast, Sub-Balkan Region: The Valley of the Roses, Southern Region: the Thracian Valley and the South Western Region: the Struma Valley Region. Make a note of the names mavrud, melnik and rubin. These are the most interesting red wine varieties. Spend some time to visit a winery and enjoy a wine-tasting session while travelling in the country. You won’t regret it.
Top 10 Bulgarian Recipes
The fame of this salad set out from Sofia region and spread all over the world. You can even find the recipe in the culinary encyclopedia of the Paris publishers, etc. This popularity also leads to different ways of preparing it, such as, for instance, raw peppers instead of roasted ones, with or without grated white brined cheese, etc.
INGREDIENTS: 500-600 G PEPPERS, 2-3 CHILLIES, 250 G TOMATOES, 100 G WHITE BRINED CHEESE, 40 ml
VEGETABLE/OLIVE OIL, several cloves of garlic, parsley and salt to taste.
METHOD: Roast and skin the peppers, cut in stripes along the length and arrange in the salad bowl with the hot peppers,
add the sliced and grated tomatoes, the crushed garlic and finely chopped parsley, pour over the oil after you have sprinkled salt over the salad, and cover with the roughly grated cheese.
SALAD OF BAKED AUBERGINES ( KYOPOOLU)
2-3 big AUBERGINES, 1 cup of vegetable oil, salt, garlic, lemon juice or vinegar, parsley
Bake the aubergines until mild. Put in a pot with cold water – black juice will go into the water. Peel the aubergines and crush in a wooden vessel. Crush garlic in a wooden vessel, too, adding some salt and oil. Garlic becomes a white homogeneous mass. Add parsley and vinegar to taste and mix well.
TARATOR(Summer Cold Soup)
½ kg of yoghurt, 1 glass of water, 2 cucumbers, 1 spoonful of vegetable oil, salt to taste, 3-4 cloves of garlic, 2-3 crushed
walnuts, 1 bunch of dill.
METHOD: Beat up the yoghurt in a big glass bowl, add the finely cut cucumbers, the water, the walnuts and the finely cut
dill. Add the crushed cloves of garlic and in a hot summer day – some ice.
¾ kg spinach, 60 g rice, 1 bunch spring onions, 80 ml vegetable oil, 40 g tomato puree, 30 g flour, paprika, salt.
Fry together finely chopped spring onions, chopped spinach, tomato puree, flour, red pepper and salt.
Add 2 cupfuls hot water and boil. When spinach is almost cooked, add rice, another cup of water.
Serve with yoghurt, either hot, or cold.
INGREDIENTS: 2-3 tomatoes, 3-4 peppers, 1 onion, 2-3 spoonfuls of vegetable oil, parsley, pinch of salt, white cheese (200 g) 2 eggs.
METHOD: Cut the onions and fry until brown, add the peppers cut into strips, the tomatoes and the salt. When fried, add the white cheese, eggs and parsley and fry to taste. Serve hot.
CHIKEN KAVARMA a la SLIVEN
1900 g chicken meat, 200 g onions, 100 g vegetable oil, 10 g flour, 3 g paprika, 2 g savory, 10 g salt.
Cut the bird up into portions and fry or boil in hot fat (butter or vegetable oil. Add the finely chopped onion, which is salted till it softens, flavour with paprika and pour water over this mixture. Ten minutes before it is ready sprinkle with ground savory. After the mixture is ready, with all ingredients in it, put it in earthenware and let it bake until it’s ready at low fire.
The sauce is thickened at the last moment with a roux made with raw flour, cooked at a low temperature. Serve the KAVARMA hot.
VEGETABLES STUFFED WITH RICE AND/OR MINCED MEAT
600 g minced meat (veal and pork or lamb), 50 g vegetable oil, 250 g yoghurt, 50 g flour, 10 g black pepper, 30 g butter, 120 g onion, 60 g rice, 200 g tomatoes, 30 g tomato puree, 15 g spearmint, 15 g parsley, 2 eggs, 15 g paprika, 15 g salt, 100 g vine leaves or 100 g courgettes, 1 kg tomatoes or 500 g peppers for stuffing
With vine leaves: Chop onions finely, and cook in mixture of oil and butter. Add washed rice, paprika and black pepper,
chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. Pour over mixture warm water, or stock. After mixture has boiled, remove from heat, set aside to cool and then add minced meat; season and mix well. Wash or scald vine leaves, lay them face down, and place on each the prepared mixture of meat, rice and tomatoes, and wrap in the leaf. Arrange the stuffed leaves closely together in large saucepan or in shallow casserole, pour over the stock, press down with a plate and cook either on the stove or in the
oven at moderate heat.
Prepare sauce from eggs, yoghurt, flour and some of the gravy from stuffed vine leaves. Pour this sauce over the stuffed vine leaves, raising the heat to boiling point. Serve hot.
Vegetarian option: Use rice instead of meat. Add dill and raisins. Serve hot or cold.
Stuffed courgettes, tomatoes and peppers are prepared in the same way.
GYUVECH (Stara Zagora Region)
800 g lamb, 120 g onion, ½ kg potatoes, 350 g courgettes, ¼ kg aubergines, 150 g peppers, 125 g okra, 2 eggs, 15 g salt, parsley, black pepper.
Cut meat into pieces, salt and pour a little water over it. Add finely chopped onion and pepper and simmer till the water evaporates. Place meat in an earthenware guyvech (the special earthenware dish in which it should be cooked). Cover meat with vegetables cut in fairly large pieced: potatoes in slices, aubergines diced and seeded. Bake till golden-brown on top. If desired, a mixture of 2 beaten eggs, salt and black pepper and finely chopped parsley may be poured over the gyuvech. Then return to oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve in its own dish.
BANITSA (Thracian Valley Region)
INGREDIENTS: 1/2 kg sheets of phyllo pastry, 60 g rice, 100 g white brined cheese, 120 g butter, 3 eggs.
METHOD: Mix slightly boiled rice with white cheese and blend with beaten eggs. Arrange the sheets
of pastry one over the other, sprinkling each with melted butter, and spreading a thin layer of the cheese mixture over them.
The last sheet is sprinkled with melted butter only. Bake in moderate oven.
INGREDIENTS: 1 kg flour, 2 eggs, 100 g butter, 20 g yeast, 15 g salt, ½ l yoghurt.
METHOD: Make dough with ingredients, adding a little water. Set aside for dough to rise for 1 hour. Place in greased tin and set aside to rise again in 30-40 min. Split dough in 2 parts, spread beaten eggs between the 2 layers and bake in moderate oven.
COOKERY TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
KAVARMA – stew with small pieces of meat.
GYUVECH – earthenware vessel. The dish is also called gyuvech.
BANITSA – thin sheets of dough spread alternatively with mixture of eggs and white cheese and
PITTA – home-made bread.