With influences and roots in several different cultures, Serbian food contains a lot of flavor and history. As more people look to exotic cuisines to sample and expand their horizons, the peasant-inspired recipes and food from Serbia are getting a second glance.
The Roots of Serbian Food
A close look at some of the traditional foods of Serbia will show you a lot of common ties with other countries and cultures. This is due in part to centuries of outside rule, first by the Ottomans, and later by Austria. Therefore, there are several crossovers and influences that can be seen throughout the cuisine.
Many Serbian dishes also have the same roots as dishes from Turkey and Greece, so several things may be familiar to those who have experienced these cuisines. Many Serbian dishes also rely on seasonal items, so if you’re interested in learning how to cook seasonally, Serbian food is a good place to start.
Serbian Breakfast Foods
Breakfast is a hearty meal in Serbia, typically eaten fairly early in the day. Many Serbian breakfast foods are similar to foods eaten around the world at this time of day, including:
- Bread with a variety of toppings
- Pastries containing meat or cheese
Additionally, corn-based foods such as Proja, a type of cornbread, and Kačamak, a type of polenta, are eaten.
Soup is frequently eaten as a meal in Serbia, either as the main meal, or in addition to it. Most soups are similar to those eaten in other countries, such as:
- Lamb ragout
- Beef ragout
- Tomato soup
- Onion soup
- Barely and lentil soup
Barbecue and Meats
Grilling and barbecuing are very popular in Serbia. Many main courses involving meat are cooked on the grill. Grilled food is also frequently eaten as a form of fast food throughout the region. National favorites include:
- Grilled hamburgers
- Strips of grilled pork loin
- Gyros made with grilled meat in pita
- Hot dogs
In addition to grilled meats, several other types of processed and smoked meats are also frequently eaten in Serbia, including:
- Smoked ham
- Pork rinds
- Potted meat
- Blood sausage
While grilled meats are very popular in Serbia, there are also a number of different main dishes that are eaten nationally as well. Some of these have similar dishes in other countries as well.
- Whole roasted meats such as lamb
- Stewed vegetables and pork
- Baked beans in sauce
- Stewed Sauerkraut
- Stuffed cabbage rolls
- Beef stew
- Stuffed zucchini
- Pork and pepper stew
- Lamb or pig intestines
- Breaded rolled steak
- Stuffed peppers
Dairy products in Serbia are similar to those eaten in Turkey and Greece. Lots of cheeses made from sheep’s and goat’s milk, as well as buttermilk, yogurt, and sour cream.
Baked goods, desserts, and breads in Serbia are also similar to those made in Greece and Turkey. Fried breads, pita, flat breads, and pies made from phyllo are all very common. Taking a course in artisan bread baking will allow you to experiment with some Serbian bread baking techniques.
Just like many Serbian foods have their roots in other cultures, you may find that these recipes are similar to those you have eaten before. Many of these recipes can also be made using healthy ingredients, so if you’re learning how to make healthy food taste great, these can be a good starting point.
Duvac is a stewed vegetable dish similar to ratatouille. It usually contains pork, lamb, or beef, but it can be cooked as a vegetarian entrée by eliminating the beef and adding potatoes and carrots. The dish is actually an oven-baked stew, made in a Dutch oven or an earthenware pot.
- 1 pound stew meat
- 1 cup Kalamata olives
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 1 cup cooked long grain rice
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons crushed garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven, and add the meat in a single layer. Brown the pieces on all sides.
- Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms and cook over medium heat until soft.
- Add the other vegetables, seasoning, and rice.
- Transfer the pot to the oven and cook at 350 degrees for one hour, or until all the vegetables are soft and well combined.
Pasulj is a type of stew made with either white or brown baked beans. It usually contains some type of smoked meat, such as ham or bacon as well. It can be made in a slow cooker to help cut down on the soaking time of the beans.
- 1/2 pound Great Northern beans
- 1-1/2 pounds cubed smoked ham
- 3 carrots peeled and sliced
- 3 red potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 ribs of celery, diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 6 cups of water
- Layer the ingredients in the slow cooker and stir well.
- Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
- Mash the beans once cooked to combine them well with any remaining water and the other vegetables.
Punjene tikvice is a traditional Serbian food that has spread throughout the Baltic region. This dish is a type of stuffed squash that may be served alongside stuffed peppers.
- Large round squash
- 1/2 cup cooked rice
- 1/2 pound ground meat
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- Slice the squash in half lengthwise and remove the core, including the seeds and any other inedible parts. This will leave a cavity you can fill with the stuffing.
- Mix together the cooked rice, ground meat, and garlic.
- Spoon the rice mixture into the squash and top with the tomato sauce.
- Bake at 375 degrees for one hour, or until the squash is cooked through and the meat is thoroughly cooked.
Enjoy Good Food
Expand your culinary horizons by sampling some Serbian food. While there are numerous dishes you may find familiar, there are also several others that may be new enough to let you experience the tastes of Serbia on their own. Whether you’re just beginning to learn to cook and are taking a cooking course, or you’re an accomplished chef who loves to experiment with different cuisines, give Serbian food a try.