The Rich World Of Balkan Cuisine

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: February 2014

THE GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION OF THE BALKANS, WHICH BLEND EUROPE WITH ANATOLIA AND RUSSIA WITH THE MEDITERRANEAN, IS ALSO REFLECTED IN THEIR RICH CUISINE.

The Rich World Of Balkan Cuisine
The Rich World Of Balkan Cuisine

Slavs, Greeks, Albanians, Latins and Turks are the communities that make up the Balkans’ ancient and vibrant cultural life. Distilled in a retort of culture and faith, the distinctive elements introduced by climate add a unique richness to the Balkan cuisines. A fondness for livestock and grains brought about by the mountains is tempered in the Balkans by fish dishes from the Danube and the waters of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. At the same time, olive oil has pride of place in Balkan cooking. But what gives value to the hundreds of Balkan flavors lies hidden in an intricate web of dishes interwoven with stories. Without a doubt one of the greatest population movements of the 20th century, the mübadele, or population exchange, had a direct impact on our gastronomic world. Many tastes familiar today in Istanbul and Western Anatolia especially are tastes we came to know through the mübadele. Since the preservation of food was a major issue in the cuisines of the Balkans, pickles, dried meats and salt-cured fish emerge as nutritional solutions imposed by typically harsh winters. Opening the door on this rich gastronomic world, we encounter scores of dishes as yet little known and, following their trail, take a closer look at the Balkan cultures.

KAMENITSA
INGREDIENTS
1 liter milk
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar

PREPARATION
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar for five minutes. Add the heated and cooled milk and beat for three more minutes. Pour into a greased baking pan and bake at 170-180° C. for 1 hour until brown on top. Let stand for one day in a cool place until firm. Cut and serve. If you like, you can place the slices upside down on the plate and top with the caramel sauce.

CORN FLOUR BEUREK WITH LEEKS
INGREDIENTS
4 leeks
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 kg corn flour
100 g white cheese (feta)
1 cup yoghurt
2 cups cooking oil
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
20 g sugar
Salt

PREPARATION
Chop the leeks like onions and saute in the cooking oil until they begin to color. Let cool. Add the cup of yoghurt, 3 eggs, salt, a little sugar and the bicarbonate of soda and mix. Finally, add the corn flour to form a runny dough. Spread in a medium-sized greased baking pan and bake in a hot oven.

AZHVAR
INGREDIENTS
2 medium eggplants
4 tomatoes
3 red peppers
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp ground red pepper
1/3 cup olive oil salt

PREPARATION
Roast the eggplants and red peppers over a flame and remove the skins. Finely chop the onion and garlic and saute in the oil. Run the tomatoes through a food processor and add to the onion and garlic. When the liquids are reduced, buzz the mixture in a blender. Bring to a boil, pour into sterilized jars and cover tightly. Turn upside down and let stand until cool. Use as a sauce for breakfast in winter.

FRIED PEPPERS BOSNIAN STYLE
INGREDIENTS
100 g white cheese (feta)
1 green Charleston pepper, roasted and skinned
20 g milk
3 g sea salt
3 g black peppercorns
10 g butter
1 egg, beaten

PREPARATION
Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the 50 g of white cheese. And the roasted peppers to this mixture, then add the remaining 50 g of white cheese, milk and beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper and cook tightly covered over low heat. After about 10 minutes, serve hot in the skillet.