Classic Bulgarian meals and drinks
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. Click for recipe.
You probably don't want to know exactly what this typically Bulgarian soup is made of. We suggest you first try it and see that it is actually pleasant to the taste. The literal English translation is tripe soup - tripe is the thick lining of the stomach of cattle... Seasoned with garlic, vinegar, and hot red pepper, it will surprise you with its unique aroma and taste - good surprise that is. It is scientifically proven that Shkembe chorba helps alleviate a hangover when consumed after waking up with one. Eat it with as much rakia or beer as you want. Click for recipe.
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. Click for recipe.
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. Click for recipe.
Lukanka is the Bulgarian cousin of the Italian sopresatta. In essence it is a spicy sausage made of minced meat curried with a lot of flavorful spices and half-dried in a cold, windy place for at least two months. In fact it is a must have on every table where rakia is served. Eat it with wine, beer, rakia, whiskey or any other drink you enjoy. Click for recipe. Check out this funny video!
A meatball made of minced meat and spices and shaped like a sausage. Same as the kyufte, but does not contain onions. It has to be grilled otherwise you will get something different which probably will not be called kebapche (for comparison kyufte can also be fried). Eat it with Shopska salad and French fries with Bulgarian cheese. Click for recipe.
Again, a meatball made of minced meat and spices shaped like a meatball slapped with a spatula. Same as kebapche but contains chopped onions too. You can grill, fry or bake it. As with kebapche, eat it with Shopska salad and French fries with Bulgarian cheese. Click for recipe.
Another Bulgarian classic meal - meshana skara (or mixed grill in English) consists of one kebapche, one kyufte, one pork steak and one skewer of pork meat. All this comes with French fries, bean salad with chopped onions and lyutenitsa. Eat with at least three beers and follow up with a rakia. Click for recipe.
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. Click for recipe.
This is one of the most popular meals in Bulgaria which is not so famous outside the country. The ingredients and preparations depend on the region. Almost every part of Bulgaria has it’s own Kavarma recipe. In general, the meal consists of marinated cooked meat and vegetables. It could be mild or spicy depending on the region and the likings. Goes perfectly well with beer or rakia. Click for recipe.
Another Bulgarian dish confused with its Greek cousin. Sarmi, or Dolmas, are made of grape or cabbage leaves 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. Click for recipe.
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. Click for recipe.
Bulgarian white cheese - a variety of the feta cheese but can be produced only in Bulgaria. This is due to a specific lactose tolerant bacteria which converts the milk into yoghurt and then sirene. The bacteria is found only in this part of the world, hence it name - Bacillus Bulgaricus. Bulgarian white cheese is a brined goat, sheep, or cow cheese and can be enjoyed as a side dish or as a part of many other Bulgarian meals. Eat it with some red pepper on top and with a glass of fine wine.
The Bulgarian yoghurt is the best yoghurt produced in the world. The only place where you can produce it and find it in its unaltered form is Bulgaria. This is due to the same Lactobacterium Bulgaricum that is used to make the Bulgarian cheese and which grows no place else in the world. If you are thinking of organic yoghurt - this is it in its purest form. Eat it straight, with fruits, add it on meals or make ayran or tarator. Click for recipe.
Kashkaval is the typical yellow cheese of Bulgaria. Very similar to the cheddar types of cheese, kashkaval is made of goat, sheep or cow's milk. It is then aged for a certain period of time (about 6 months) to develop its very particular and defining flavor. Eat it as a side dish, appetizer, grind it over food, or have some with your Bulgarian wine.
Lyutenitsa is a sauce-like spread that is made from tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants pureed together. It looks a lot like babbaganush and has similar ingredients but it tastes a little more peppery. Lyut in Bulgarian means hot as in spicy, hence lyutenitsa. Although in truth, lyutenitsa is not really spicy. Enjoy this on bread or as a side dish. Click for recipe.
Pizza is another typically Bulgarian food mistaken for... Just kidding :)
Rakia is as rooted in Bulgarian history and existence as is bourbon in American. It has aided the nation in surviving its hardest years and has helped bring many bright ideas to live. In case you haven't tried it yet, rakia is hard liquor from the brandy family. It is made from fermented grapes, plums, or virtually any fruit with sugars in it. Its alcohol content varies from 40% for the commercially sold liquor to 70-80% of pure firewater for the home-produced rakia. Some of the most popular brands of rakia are Peshterska, Slivenksa Perla, Sungurlarska, Burgas 63, Kehlibar, Karnobat. Drink it ice cold, preferably straight up (no rocks), and have a Shopska salad, lukanka or at least a few pickles standing by. Click for more info.
Increasingly popular across Europe and the world for its proved qualities for augmenting women's breasts, boza is one of the most typical Bulgarian soft drinks. Well, since it had undergone some fermentation, it contains traces of alcohol but don't worry, your stomach's expansion limits will prevent you from getting drunk by its ~0.9% alcohol. The boza is made from baked wheat flour or millet and has sweet and slightly sour taste. Drink it with banitsa or with your girlfriend. Click for recipe.
Made out of yogurt and water, ayran is the simplest drink you can prepare yourself besides, well, pouring yourself a glass water. Put some salt in it and you have in your hand a combination of the best cure for a hangover, a hot summer weather relief drink, a thirst quencher, and a nutritious smoothie. You can't prepare it with regular yogurt though - you have to use genuine Bulgarian yogurt, otherwise you risk ruining you taste buds for the day. Drink it with a large piece of banitsa. Click for recipe.
Mineral water is huge in Bulgaria. Bulgaria is a country with many mineral springs scattered across the entire country. It's cheaper to buy a bottle of mineral water than a bottle of regular purified water. It's healthier too. The level of mineralization and the temperature of the mineral water differs across the country's regions. Drink it from the bottle.
Well, beer is beer. Not too much to say here. You probably would not believe if we say that most of the Bulgarian beer is equally good as its German or Belgian counterparts but go and try one - you will see what we mean. Oh, one thing - Bulgarian beer contains on average 10% alcohol, most of other beer stops at 5.5%. The most popular beers, in order of preference, are Kamenitza, Zagorka, Astika, Shumensko, Burgasko and Plevensko. Drink it with friends or with another beer.
It is a universal truth that the Bulgarian wines are one of the best wines in the world. The unique technologies with which Bulgarian wines are produced date back to the ancient Thracians times. Bulgaria has almost perfect conditions for growing the best quality grapes. Its warm Mediterranean climate, combined with hilly terrains and good quality soils contribute for the country to be the second largest exporter of bottled wine in the world, second only to France. For example, the area planted with Cabernet Sauvignon is four times the area planted with vines in California. Drink it with Bulgarian cheese sprinkled with sweet red pepper and with a lot of friends.