"If in doubt add sirene" is perhaps the sentence that best describes Bulgarian food and Bulgarian cooking.
Sirene, the brined white cheese known as feta in the English-speaking world is the undisputed culinary staple of Bulgarian cuisine with Bulgarian yogurt being its only possible rival.
The legacy of Ottoman cuisine shows through as Bulgaria shares with Turkey numerous recipes and the names of various fruits and nuts.
Traditional casserole type dishes are called ‘mandza.” This term can refer to anything cooked in a pot or a pan, which remains the most popular style of home cooking. After long trips abroad Bulgarians can be heard longing for something “wet” i.e. saucy food.
Of these dishes, jahnia, a potato stew to which meat is sometimes added, is the home cooking staple in the country.
Dinner and lunch always start with a seasonal salad. It is a green salad in spring, shopska in the summer, and sauerkraut or pickled vegetables in the winter.
Shopska salad is one of the most popular Bulgarian starters. It is a cold salad made from tomatoes, cucumbers, onion/scallions, raw or roasted peppers, sirene (brined white cheese) and parsley. This salad is often served as an appetizer with rakia, a strong homemade brandy from the region.
Anecdote: Salad leaves are often washed down with rakia.
Sweets are simple but usually garnished with honey and walnuts, such as baked pumpkin, a popular dessert in the winter, yogurt and crepes.
Bulgarians love Turkish delight, loukum and baklava.
Sirene cheese is a white brined cheese like feta. It is part of every meal: baked with honey and walnuts, stuffed into red pepper, used as a filling in banitsa (phyllo pastry), mixed into mishmash (scrambled eggs, tomatoes and red peppers), eaten with katuk (yogurt and nuts), sprinkled with red pepper as an appetizer, or served on crepes, salads, French fries and watermelon.
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- Soup & bread basket (top), Potato stew, Baked pumpkin / Sofia Travel Guide
- Recipe list: Wheat harvest / Pixaday
- Shopska salad: Secession Style House, 77 Ekzarh Yosif Street, Centrum, 1000 Sofia
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