The variety in Bulgarian cuisine is based on the long history of the country, as well as on the long-lasting migrations of the tribes that founded Bulgaria more than 1300 years ago. The close contact with Turkey and Greece have helped us form very attractive and to some extent exotic national cuisine, including some dishes which cannot be called national but which are typical of Bulgaria only.
If you ever venture on a Bulgarian holiday, remember a few things: Bulgarians love to catch up with family, welcome visitors, feed them, and talk to them about their lives and culture. A big part of this bonding happens over meals. Bulgarian food, traditional drinks and Bulgarian cheese all compliment the splendid hospitality and surroundings. Here’s what you can expect from a traditional Bulgarian meal.
- Banitsa – This is the most typical Bulgarian pastry and used for some of the best Bulgarian food. It can be found anywhere – cafes, bakeries, small shops in bus stations, restaurants. The basic and most common version of the banitsa is made with white cheese. Like anything else in Bulgaria, different versions of the banitsa can be found with onions, cabbage, spinach, mushrooms, or pumpkin. There are some versions of sweet banitsa as well that you can try.
- Mekitza – “Bulgarian donuts” kneaded with yoghurt and deep fried, and typically served hot with jam, fruits, honey, yoghurt, or powdered sugar. If you are going to visit Rila Monastery don’t miss to try mekitza there.
- Bulgarian Yogurt – What makes Bulgarian yogurt unique is the bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus. It is unique, and it is only found in Bulgaria. Its process dates back over 4000 years, and as a food, Bulgarians are proud to honor it and continue using the same process to this day. You can also mix the yogurt with jam for a fantastic dessert. Homemade Bulgarian yogurt is by far the tastiest. One of the best Bulgarian foods that have a worldwide appeal.
- Shopska Salad – This is the most common and traditional salad in Bulgaria. Though a deceivingly simple mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers, the shopska explodes with flavor when topped with soft white Bulgarian cheese.
- Tarator – plain and simple to make, yet has a flavorsome taste and is very refreshing for the summer. Simply, tarator is a cold cucumber soup. Prepared with yoghurt, cucumbers, garlic, walnuts, dill, oil and water. In some restaurants, look out for “Snow white salad,” or a dry version of tarator without water.
- Kebapche -Tthe perfect side dish to a glass of cold Bulgarian beer on a summer day. The dish itself is an elongated piece of grilled minced meat, comparable in shape and size, though not in contents, to a hot dog.
- Lyutenitsa – relish made from peppers and tomatoes. You can use it as a side to the main course, as a spread on the likes of bread, or just eat it on its own. Lyutenitsa is one of the most famous Bulgarian foods.
- Shkembe Chorba – This recipe is prepared by boiling cut or minced tripe for several hours in with milk, oil, and paprika. The soup is served hot, and it is very common to put inside hot pepper (as a spice) and then add a mix of garlic and vinegar to give it the complete taste. Garlic bread is a common side order. Shkembe chorba is also the perfect cure for a hangover, according to some locals.
- Kavarma – One of the most delicious Bulgarian dishes, and one of the best Bulgarian foods. Like in many other cases, there are many versions of the recipes for the Kavarma. The traditional recipe uses pork, although some Bulgarian regions cook beef and chicken versions of Kapama. The dish is perfect for a cold winter evening.
- Patatnik – This typical meal can be found in the region of the Rodophe mountains. Since this is a mountain region, the products that are used in the preparation of the patatnik have always been there in large quantities, and you can be sure that they are locally produced.