An Introduction into the Serbian Cuisine
Serbian cuisine is a mixture of influences of the two powers which have left a deep trail in the region: the Ottoman Empire (the Turks) and Austria-Hungarian Empire. So, distinctive for Kosovo are different types of pies and typical Turkish pastries, such as tulumbe and baklave; in Vojvodina, under the influence of Austro-Hungarian cuisine, dominate variants with lots of dough, noodles and fish, while at the south of Serbia you will find different types of meals from peppers. European influences in Vojvodina and Oriental in South Serbia have met and merged in Šumadija, the center of Serbia. In any case, the cuisine is very rich and there is something for everyone!
What is the best way to describe the Serbian national cuisine? Well, like Serbia, on the crossroads of civilizations a specific mixture has arisen, as a result of combined influences from both the East and the West. Serbian cuisine is really international cuisine with unavoidable native elements. Today, the real symbol of Serbian national cuisine, above all, is grilled meat.
Ćevapčići with chopped onion, beef burgers, sausages, pork chops, grilled meat from Leskovac are on the menu of every restaurant in Serbia, from Vojvodina to the south. And the supreme pleasure in grill definitely is mixed meat - mixture of several grilled meat specialties which are best when absolutely fresh and hot from the grill.
The real Serbian dish, which can not be found on any menu in the world, is kajmak. Kajmak is what you take off the milk to make it low fat, and is considered the best part of the milk. Yes, it is full of milk fat, but it's delicious. This is one of the oldest specialties from this region, the only one that can not be produced in industrial production without losing its well known look and taste. Beside kajmak, sauerkraut is also one of few originally Serbian specialties. We, also, must mention world's famous Sljivovica (fruit brandy made from plums) without which any real Serbian lunch can not begin. But, the real Serbian cuisine once was based on spoon dishes, because up to the middle of last century Serbian cuisine was based on soupy dishes. Even today Serbian bean soup is one of the best Serbian specialties. Beside different chowders and soups, milk and dairy products were obligatory on the dining table, particularly kajmak, along with kačamak, cicvara, popara (meals with extraordinary taste which are today little bit forgotten), proja (cornbread) and gibanica, which could also be considered as Serbian national dishes. The real Serbian gibanica is a pie made from thin layers of dough with plenty of cheese, kajmak and eggs and when it is real hot, you won't know how much is enough! If homemade yogurt is served with it, then the pleasure is complete. We definitely shouldn't forget ajvar, a specialty made from grilled red peppers unique for its taste and beauty of colors. The best combination with ajvar is homemade smoked meat, which you can find all over the world, but here is prepared in particular way.
Smoked meat, hot pogača (homemade bread), cheese and kajmak, and you won't need anything else! Beside ajvar, very good salad is the so called Serbian salad, mixture of tomato, pepper, cucumber, onion and hot pepper. If you add little bit of cheese, then you'll get Šopska salad which is equally good as Serbian. Roasted peppers with dressing of garlic, vinegar and oil is one of the most popular salads in Serbia. But, this is just the beginning of your "torture", because now you will get stuffed peppers, sarma (stuffed sour cabbage) and of course unavoidable roast pork and roast lamb. In Serbia every big holiday, family feast, wedding and basically any important occasion must be accompanied with good roast pork or roast lamb. And at the end you'll face the real challenge - sweets. From baklave and tulumbe, "borrowed" from the Turks, real homemade Serbian apple and cherry pie to dry nut pie, very good after a big meal. If you survive all this, at the end of each meal you definitely must drink good Turkish, actually Serbian coffee, since the Turks prepare coffee differently. Serbian or not, coffee is one of the most important rituals in every Serbian home and restaurant.
What you will find in this section of the TravelSerbia.Info website (just follow the "Recipes" links on the side menu) are selected recipes of some great Serbian dishes, as prepared in some of the greatest Belgrade restaurants. So, prepare yourself because we will take you for a walk through the best Belgrade restaurants and streets of famous bohemian quarter "Skadarlija" where, with the real pleasure in smells, tastes and colours which Serbian cuisine has in abundance, and good music, you can stay till the early morning hours. Good fun you can also find on many Belgrade rafts, famous for live music and, of course, excellent food.
Oh, and just so you don't get put off by the "hard" meat story above, for gourmands who like fish specialties, Belgrade offers series of excellent restaurants, particularly on Sava and Danube riverbank.