Bulgarian cuisine (Bulgarian: българска кухня, balgarska kuhnya) is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe. Essentially South Slavic[clarification needed][vague], it shares characteristics with other Balkans cuisines. Owing to the relatively warm climate and diverse geography affording excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits, Bulgarian cuisine is diverse.
Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy products and the variety of Bulgarian wines and local alcoholic drinks such as rakia, mastika and menta. Bulgarian cuisine features also a variety of hot and cold soups, an example of a cold soup being tarator. There are many different Bulgarian pastries as well such as banitsa.
Most Bulgarian dishes are oven baked, steamed, or in the form of stew. Deep-frying is not very typical, but grilling - especially different kinds of meats - is very common. Pork meat is the most common meat in the Bulgarian cuisine. Oriental dishes do exist in Bulgarian cuisine with most common being moussaka, gyuvetch, and baklava. A very popular ingredient in the Bulgarian white brine cheese called "sirene" (сирене). It is the main ingredient in many salads, as well as in a variety of pastries. Fish and chicken are widely eaten and while beef is less common as most cattle are bred for milk production rather than meat, veal is a natural byproduct of this process and it is found in many popular recipes. Bulgaria is a net exporter of lamb and its own consumption of the meat is prevalent during its production time in spring.
Traditionally Bulgarians have consumed a notable quantity of yogurt per head and is noted historically for the production of high quality yogurt, including using a unique variety of micro-organism called Lactobacillus bulgaricus in the manufacturing process. Bulgaria has been part of a region that has cultivated and consumed yogurt from as far back as 3000 BC.
Certain entrees, salads, soups and dishes go well with alcoholic beverages and the alcohol of choice for some is Bulgarian wine.
There are several holidays that are characterized by specific meals. On Christmas Eve, it is a tradition to have vegetarian stuffed peppers and vegetarian stuffed vine leaves. On New Year's Eve, there are dishes made with cabbage. On Nikulden (Nicholay's Day; December 6), people usually cook fish, while on Gergyovden (George’s Day; May 6), it is a tradition to eat roast lamb.
Katino meze (Hot starter with chopped pork meat, onion, mushrooms with fresh butter and spices.)
Drob po selski (Chopped Liver with onion, or only with butter.)
Ezik v maslo (Sliced tongue in butter.)
Sirene pane (Breaded Bulgarian White cheese bites.)
Kashkaval pane (Breaded Kashkaval bites.)
Mussels in butter (With onion and fresh herbs, from Sozopol, popular at the seaside.)
Grill (Bulgarian: Skara)
Kyufte (Meatballs - Minced meat, with traditional spices, shaped as a flattened ball.)
Kebapche (Like meatballs, but with different spices and shaped as bars.)
Parjola (Pork Steaks in traditional style.)
Shishcheta (Arranged on a skewer marinated pieces of chicken or/and pork and vegetables.)
Karnache (Kind of sausage with special spices.)
Nadenitsa (Kind of sausage with special spices.)
Tatarsko kyufte (Stuffed meatballs.)
Nevrozno kyufte (Very piquant meatballs.)
Chicken in caul
Cheverme (A special dish used for celebrations such as weddings, graduations and birthdays. A whole animal, traditionally a pig, but also chickens or a lamb, is slowly cooked on an open fire by rotating it manually on a wooden skewer for 4 to 7 hours. If a customer wanted to try this delicacy at a restaurant, they would need to order at least one day in advance.)
Meshana skara (Mixed grill.)
Grilled Vegetables (Usually prepared for garnish or as a side dish.)
Grilled Fish (Various traditional recipes for grilling sea or river fish.)
Traditional Bulgarian grill (Skara)- Tatarsko kufte
Halva is a popular dessert in Bulgaria, and the term 'halva' (халва) is used for several varieties of the dessert. Tahini halva (тахан халва) is most popular and can be found in all food stores. Two different types of tahini halva are made - one using sunflower seed tahini and another using sesame seed tahini. Traditionally, the regions of Yablanitsa and Haskovo are famous for their halva.