Tarator – A type of Bulgarian soup
Tarator is a cold soup made of yoghurt, cucumbers, and garlic. It is best enjoyed in the summertime when the blazing sun scorches your head. You can eat it any other time too but you will appreciate its icy chill more when the temperatures around you increase. We have discovered that you can have a rakia or beer with it with no negative side effects but stay away from combining it with wine.
1 long cucumber, chopped or grated (we prefer it peeled)
1 garlic clove, minced or smashed
4 cups Bulgarian yoghurt
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt (we like it saltier)
1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
4 big pecans, well crushed
3 teaspoons olive oil
Put all those together and mix well. When ready garnish with olive oil (or other favorite oil) Best when very cold.
Try it without the dill and the pecans – Bulgarian restaurants favorite.
2.Shopska salad – A type of Bulgarian Salad
Shopska salad (Shopska Salata) is the salad that defines Bulgaria. Not only is it the most popular Bulgarian salad but is also named after a big group of very frugal people called shopi who live in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia. Shopska salad is made from chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and peppers sprinkled with Bulgarian white cheese. Eat it with a chilled double rakia on the rocks.
4 ripe tomatoes
2 long cucumbers
1 red or green pepper
1/3 bunch of parsley
2 tablespoons (olive) oil
3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 cup (1/2 lb) Bulgarian cheese (or feta cheese)
Chop all tomatoes (we recommend leaving the pieces bigger), cucumbers and the pepper and put in a bowl. Add the finely chopped onions and parsley. Sprinkle with the oil and vinegar and mix it all together. Grate the feta on top.
3. Moussaka – A type of Bulgarian meal
One of the several Bulgarian foods confused in the West for being Greek.
Moussaka is made with potatoes, ground meat, and tomatoes then it is topped with a white sauce and baked. Throw in some bay leaves too and you will not want to leave the table until you have finished up the entire baking pan. Eat this with some yoghurt on top.
2 lb potatoes, cut in small cubes
1 lb ground meat
1 onion chopped
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1/2 cup oil
Cook the onion in 1/4 cup oil in a pan until golden brown. Add the meat, half of the salt, the pepper, and the paprika. Fry until the meat gets brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the potatoes, add the other 1/4 cup of salt and mix well. In casserole pan put the rest of the oil and add the mixture. Cook about 40 minutes on 425 F. Mix the eggs and the milk separately and pour on top. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the top turns brownish.
4. Lozovi Sarmi( Stuffed Grape leaves)
Another Bulgarian dish confused with its Greek cousin. Zelevi Sarmi, or Dolmas, are made of grape stuffed with combination of rice and minced meat and then boiled. They can be served both hot or cold to you liking. Definitely try it with some yoghurt on top. Eat with mineral water.
15-20 grape leaves
3 onions, chopped
2 cups white rice
1 teaspoon dried celery or oregano
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cups water
Steam the grape leaves. Fry the onion in the oil until brown, add the rice, paprika, celery, and oregano and add the water. Boil until water is absorbed. Use the mixture to fill the leaves, shaping them like small bundles. Put in a pot, fill with water so the bundles are fully submerged, boil for about 45 mins on 350 F. You can bake them in the oven in a caserole pan full of water instead. Best when served with some yoghurt on top.
5. Zelevi Sarmi ( Stuffed Cabbage Leaves )
Another Bulgarian dish confused with its Greek cousin. Zelevi sarmi are made of cabbage leaves stuffed with combination of rice and minced meat and then boiled. They can be served both hot or cold to you liking. Go great with wine.
1 cabbage, pickled
3 onions, chopped
1 root celery
2 cups white rice
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
bunch of Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato juice or puree
De-leaf the cabbage. Combine the onion, carrot, celery and cook in the oil until onion turns golden. Add the rice, parsley, salt and the pepper.
Use the mixture to fill the leaves, shaping as small bundles. The best way to do it is to put some mixture on a big leaf, put a small leaf on top and wrap the big leaf around the small one. Put in a pot, cover with water and boil. You can bake them in the oven in a casserole pan full of water instead.
6. Stuffed Peppers – A type of Bulgarian meal
Very very delicious meal – try it if you can. If you like Dolmas you are guaranteed to love this meal too. It’s pretty much what it says – green or red peppers stuffed with ground beef or pork and rice and boiled. Sometimes the peppers are topped with a seasoned tomato sauce or whisked eggs. Another variation of stuffed peppers is fried peppers stuffed with cheese and whisked eggs. Eat with lots of beer.
6 green or red peppers
1/2 lb minced meat
1 cup white rice
2 tablespoons oil
1 tomato, peeled and minced
1 carrot, minced
1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of Italian parsley, minced
pinch of oregano, cumin, savory, black pepper
Fry the onion until golden in the oil, add the garlic, carrot, red pepper, oregano, cumin, savory, black pepper and the meat. In a separate pan, cook the rice in some oil for about 5 minutes, then add a cup of water and let it simmer until the rice absorbs it all. When ready add everything together.
Add the tomato and stir well until well mixed. Take off the heat and use the mixture to stuff the peppers. Put the stuffed peppers in a casserole or a pot, fill with water just below the top of the peppers and bake/cook for about 30 minutes on 400 F.
7. Banitza – A type of Bulgarian Dessert
This traditional Bulgarian pastry is first prepared by stacking up layers of filo pastry dough, mixture of whisked eggs, and pieces of Bulgarian cheese and then baked until it gets a golden crust. Eat this with a glass of ayran or boza.
1 pack of filo dough
1 lb Bulgarian cheese (or feta cheese)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup of milk or yoghurt
Mix the crumbled cheese, milk and eggs together. Don’t over mix – cheese should be lumpy. Melt the butter in a cup. Butter the bottom of a casserole pan. Lay 5-6 sheets of filo dough, one after another (not together) as you spread some butter in between – use a brush for this. Spread some of the cheese mixture on top, lay another 3-4 sheets, spreading butter in between. Repeat until all mixture is used. Lay the last 3-4 sheets on the top with no butter in between. Spread the rest of the butter on top. Cut in portion sized squares and bake in the oven until golden (about 30 minutes on 400 F).
Ask a Bulgarian and they would say this thick relish of tomatoes and peppers is the best thing you can spread on your toast. Nowadays it is commercially produced and sold in small jars, though it is still commonly made at home by many Bulgarian families. When you can smell the aroma of roasting peppers emanating from balconies throughout the country in autumn, you know homemade lyutenitsa season is soon to be upon you!
Ingredients for 6/8 people :
- 1 kilo of red peppers (= 8/10 red peppers),
- 1 eggplant,
- 1 tbsp of tomato concentrate,
- 3 tbsp of ordinary oil (ex. sunflower),
- 1 garlic clove,
- 1 tbsp of sugar,
- 1 tbsp of vinegar,
- 2/3 pinch of salt,
- 1 pinch ground red pepper,
- + a blender or robot to mix all the preparation.
Pre-wash all vegetables. Take the red peppers in first. Evaporate and seed it and arrange on a baking sheet. Place the plate in the grill position at 200°C and roast by turning each time when large brown blistering forms. Grill the peppers and on all sides. A sweet pepper smell spreads throughout the kitchen. Reserve the peppers in a covered dish, the skin will be removed more easily. Wrap the eggplant in aluminum foil, place it halfway in the oven and bake at 200 °C for 30 minutes. Let it cool in a salad bowl by splitting it in 2-3 places to make it juice. Normally, you have to peel the peppers and the eggplant but I peeled only the eggplant, chop the garlic (For better digestion, remove the heart from the garlic clove). Put all the ingredients in an electric robot or as me in a blender and mix enough to obtain a smooth and homogeneous paste. Serve fresh as an appetizer or spread on toast as an aperitif. I tasted it, and for a first time, I’m very proud of myself, very nice!
9. Bob Chorba – Bulgarian bean soup
This soup is associated with the Bulgarian oldest traditions and customs. In the past bob chorba was preferred dish, especially for the poorer people. Nowadays, we eat it on the regular basis just because it is delicious and easily made.
1 lbs beans (white is possible – haricot, fava, etc.)
2 liter water
2 onions, chopped
2 tbsp oil
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp paprika
4 tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes)
1 tsp oregano (or dried mint)
salt to taste
Soak the beans in the water overnight. Next morning drain off the water, add the same amount and bring to boil. If you don’t want to wait one day to get this done, you can simply boil the beans for an hour, then discard the water, add water again and bring to a boil again. Simmer gently for about an hour or until the beans soften. In a separate pan fry the onions in the oil until golden brown, add the flour, stir and fry for less than a minute. Add the paprika, stir and add to the beans. Add the tomatoes and oregano as well. Leave the soup to simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes.