Bulgarian cuisine

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Tarator is a cold soup made of yogurt, water, minced cucumber, dill, garlic, and sunflower or olive oil (Chips are also sometimes added).
Traditional Bulgarian Christmas Eve dish Sarmi

Bulgarian cuisine (Bulgarian: българска кухня, balgarska kuhnya) is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe. Essentially South Slavic[citation needed][clarification needed][vague], it shares characteristics with other Balkans cuisines. Bulgarian cooking traditions are diverse because of geographical factors such as climatic conditions suitable for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit. Aside from the vast variety of local Bulgarian dishes, Bulgarian cuisine shares a number of dishes with the Middle Eastern, Italian and Russian cuisines.

Bulgarian food often incorporates salads as appetizers and is also noted for the prominence of dairy products, wines and other alcoholic drinks such as rakia. The cuisine also features a variety of soups, such as the cold soup tarator, and pastries, such as the filo dough based banitsa, pita and the various types of Börek.

Main courses are very typically water-based stews, either vegetarian or with lamb, goat meat, beef, chicken or pork. Deep-frying is not common, but grilling - especially different kinds of sausages - is very prominent. Pork is common, often mixed with beef or lamb, although fish and chicken are also widely used. While most cattle are bred for milk production rather than meat, veal is popular for grilling meats appetizers (meze) and in some main courses. As a substantial exporter of lamb, Bulgaria's own consumption is notable, especially in the spring.[1]

Similarly to other Balkan cultures the per capita consumption of yogurt (Bulgarian: кисело мляко, kiselo mlyako, lit. "sour milk") among Bulgarians is traditionally higher than the rest of Europe. The country is notable as the historical namesake for Lactobacillus bulgaricus, a microorganism chiefly responsible for the local variety of the dairy product.[2][3] Yogurt has been cultivated and consumed as far back as 3000 BC.[4]

Bulgarian cuisine shares a number of dishes with the Middle Eastern Cuisine as well as a limited number with the Indian, particularly Gujrat cuisine. The culinary exchange with the East started as early as 7th century AD, when traders started bringing herbs and spices to the First Bulgarian Empire from India and Persia via the Roman and later Byzantine empires.[5] This is evident from the wide popularity of dishes like moussaka, gyuvetch, kyufte and baklava, which are common in Middle Eastern cuisine today. White brine cheese called "sirene" (сирене), similar to feta, is also a popular ingredient used in salads and a variety of pastries.

Holidays are often observed in conjecture with certain meals. On Christmas Eve, for instance, tradition requires vegetarian stuffed peppers and cabbage leaf sarmi, New Year's Eve usually involves cabbage dishes, Nikulden (Day of St. Nicholas, December 6) fish (usually carp), while Gergyovden (Day of St. George, May 6) is typically celebrated with roast lamb.

Traditional Bulgarian foods[edit]

Traditional Bulgarian cold cut - Lukanka
Traditional Bulgarian soup Teleshko vareno
Soup Topcheta (left) and Shkembe chorba (right)
Green salad (left) and Shopska salad(right)
Stuffed peppers

Cold cuts[edit]

Soups[edit]

Salads and relishes[edit]

Sauces and appetizers[edit]

Lyutenica is a traditional Bulgarian sauce made from tomatoes and peppers

Hot appetizers[edit]

Skara (Grill)[edit]

Shishcheta.

Main dishes[edit]

Traditional Bulgarian grill (Skara)- Tatarsko kufte
Cheverme grill from the Rhodopes.
Bulgarian Kavarma (left) and Yahniya (right)

Breads and pastries[edit]

Traditional Bulgarian pogacha (left) and a pile of mekitsi with jam (right)

Dairy Products[edit]

Vacuum packed Kashkaval cheese in Bulgarian store.

Bulgaria as a homeland of yogurt has a strong tradition in the making of a variety of dairy products.

Sweets[edit]

The name Halva (халва) is used for several related varieties of the Middle Eastern dessert. Tahan/Tahini halva (тахан/тахини халва) is the most popular version, available in two different types with sunflower and with sesame seed. Traditionally, the regions of Yablanitsa and Haskovo are famous manufacturers of halva.

Baked pumpkin with walnuts.
A tahini-based halva with pistachios
Kozunak as prepared in Bulgaria for orthodox Easter
Kazanlak donuts.

Spices and herbs[edit]

Other staples[edit]

Traditional Bulgarian drinks[edit]

Perushtitsa Mavrud wine
A bottle of Zagorka in a traditional mehana
Pelin is a bitter liqueur based on wormwood

Wine[edit]

Main article: Bulgarian wine

Distilled liquors[edit]

Beer[edit]

Fermented beverages[edit]

  • Boza (Most popular recipes are from Radomir and Lyubimets)
  • Ayran or Ayryan
  • Matenitsa (Bulgarian Buttermilk)
  • Etar
  • Pitie (Drinks prepared from different squeezed fruit or herbs, whose juice is usually kept for several days to a month before consumption)

Hot beverages[edit]

  • Tea (Usually prepared with one or several herbs and/or fruits)
  • Greyana Rakiya (boiled rakiya; winter alcoholic beverage)
  • Greyano Vino (winter alcoholic beverage)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]