The Balkans is a less-explored, but a seriously amazing corner of Europe full of great roads and even better off-road trails. It’s also famous for the legendary hospitality…and food. For me, Albanian and Bosnian cuisine is reason enough to want to come back to these countries. So here’s a short ADV traveler’s guide to Balkan Food.
In Albania, meat, veggies, and dairy are a staple. Kebab and gyro shops are a common sight, so if you want a quick meal on the go, you can always go for kebab wraps and meat skewers. If you want to truly experience the Albanian cuisine, however, make sure to try:
Byrek: a fluffy pastry pie filled with meat (usually diced beef); for vegetarians, there’s the cheese and spinach or pumpkin option.
Tarator: if you’re in Albania during the hot summer months, tatator soup is an ideal lunch option. It’s a cold soup made of yogurt, cucumbers, walnuts, fennel, and spices. It’s delicious and filling.
Fergese: this is one of the most popular dishes in Albania. It’s a hearty veal stew that’s perfect after a long day’s ride on the Albanian TET.
Bosnian cuisine is wonderfully diverse as it still has some Turkish traditions from the times of the Ottoman Empire, some European flavors, and some distinctly local methods of preparing and cooking food. My favorites in Bosnia are:
Cevapcici. Can you say it without giggling? I can’t, but cevapcici, a dish of grilled minced beef, is perfect for lunch or dinner. In Sarajevo, it’s usually served with raw onions and ajvar – a traditional local sauce made from bell peppers, oil, and salt. Cevapcici are incredibly filling, so go easy on the portion sizes.
Dolma. When I arrived at my AirBnB in Sarajevo, my host invited me for a plate of dolma, eggplant and pepper stuffed with tender minced meat. It’s usually served with rice or boiled potatoes and garlic sauce. Delicious and easier to digest than the hardcore cevapcici!
Baklava. This is a traditional sweet you can find everywhere in the Balkans; it’s a pastry of fluffy dough layers filled with syrup, honey, and sometimes walnuts. If you want a lower sugar content, try tufahija, an apple boiled in sugar, stuffed with minced walnuts, and topped with cream.