Brimmed with jaw-dropping landscapes, beautiful beaches, and other attractions, Bulgaria also boasts fresh, tasty, and hearty foods that will undoubtedly satisfy anyone’s palate. While the country’s cuisine shares some characteristics from its neighboring countries, Bulgarian people knew how to give their food its own distinct. From yummy pastries, well-loved soups, to classic meat dishes, here are the foods you must absolutely try when visiting Bulgaria.
A delicious starter or a light lunch, Shopska Salata is like putting Bulgaria’s summer in a bowl. It is made of juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, red onions, and julienned peppers, seasoned with oil, salt, and vinegar and topped with white sirene cheese. Bearing the colors of its national flag, this tasty dish is now considered the country’s national dish. Practically offered in every bistro and restaurant, you won’t have a hard time finding and eating Shopska Salata and beam with delight afterward.
Banitsa is another national food staple in Bulgaria. It is made of filo pastry, yogurt, eggs, and cheese, though other regional variations may include pumpkin, cabbage, spinach, walnut, and other fillings. Best-eaten for breakfast with black coffee, a glass of boza, or a bowl of Bulgarian yogurt, Banista can also be consumed as a mid-afternoon snack or a light dinner. This pastry is extremely delicious, so be sure to watch yourself so your calorie count won’t go skyrocketing.
There’s no Bulgarian who doesn’t love Tarator! This fantabulous and refreshing cold soup is made of cubed or grated cucumber, yogurt, walnuts, garlic, lemon or vinegar, herbs, and water. Though ideal for the summer months, it is served year-round in Bulgaria due to its cooling effect. Typically served as a first course, it can also be a tasty side dish to main meals.
A famous winter dish, Sarmi are oblong or roundish balls made of cabbage or vine leaves stuffed with minced meat, rice, and spices. Well-loved across the nation, there are lots of variations for its preparations. Some regions include carrots or onions in the filling, while there are also meatless versions as well. Both enjoyed as a starter or a side dish, Sarmi is one of the highlights of the Bulgarian table during Christmas Eve.
Do you want a perfect complement for a glass of ice-cold Bulgaria beer? There’s no Bulgaria food that can best go with that other than the Kebapche. It takes the size and shape of a hotdog but is made of minced meat, either pork, beef, or a combination of both, and seasoned with black pepper and cumin, which provides it its unique amazing flavor. You can find it frozen in supermarkets or taste them fresh from the grill from food shacks and restaurants.
Musaka is a dish enjoyed by many in Egypt, the Middle East, and the Balkan region. Closely related to the Greek moussaka, the main difference of the Bulgarian version is that it uses potatoes instead of eggplant to layer the meat, eggs, onions, and other spices. This delicious treat is then traditionally topped with thick and tangy Bulgarian yogurt, which will surely tickle your taste buds. A popular dish among Bulgarian men, don’t be surprised to hear jokes that they will only tie the know with a woman who can cook the perfect and tasty musaka.
If men have their favorite, children have theirs, too! Lyutenista, a particular favorite among kids, is a spread made of peppers and tomatoes, commonly prepared in Bulgarian homes. It is added with garlic, cumin, and onions, which taste incredibly on a toast sprinkled with sirene cheese. If you visit the country during autumn, you can smell the inviting aroma of roasted peppers from the people’s homes. Don’t fret, as you can find them in small jars in supermarkets and stores. Be sure to bring one home, too!
Going back to foods for the adults, you may need extra guts if you wish to try shkembe chorba. It’s a traditional soup made of tripe or the thick lining found in the cattle’s bellies, boiled for several hours with oil, milk, and paprika. Bulgarian people generously spice shkembe chorba with vinegar, salt, and hot pepper. Office workers avoid eating this dish at lunch, as eating it seems like a “fight with fire.” It is cherished as a hangover remedy instead, offered in many restaurants for people who just finished a heavy night out. So, you know what you get in case you need something after binge drinking.
Another food you shouldn’t miss in Bulgaria is the lukanka. It is made from pieces of beef and pork meat, seasoned with cumin, salt, black pepper, and other herbs before it’s cured, semi-dried for several weeks. During the process, it acquires a thin layer of fungus that adds to its distinct taste. Different regions in Bulgaria have their own way of preparing lukanka and the taste usually varies depending on the characteristics of the place it is produced in. Notable regions that produce the flavorful lukanka include Karlovo, Panagyurishte, and Smyadovo regions – be sure to try them all!
Stuffed peppers is a traditional dish. You can find different versions of this dish as you travel across Bulgaria, with a mixture of rice, vegetables, and minced meat added with eggs or cheese. Other variations may use tomatoes, courgettes, or aubergines, or any other vegetable that can hold the filling. It is then served with tomato sauce, yogurt, or bechamel. Regardless of which, this simple yet authentic Bulgarian dish will surely appease your appetite.
Bulgaria has so much delicious food and dishes to offer. Explore the country, taste them all and appreciate the diversity and palatability of the amazing Bulgarian cuisine.