Macedonian cuisine is a delicious mix of many different influences. It is primarily Mediterranean with influences from the Balkan countries and from Middle East.
The country has a very nice warm climate, which provides excellent conditions for growing tasty vegetables, fruits and herbs. Macedonian cuisine is very diverse and people that visit Macedonia are delighted of the rich tastes and flavors. Dairy products, local beverages and wines also play a major role in the food culture.
Macedonia has eight different regions, and every region has something unique to offer when it comes to food. Those regions are: Skopje (the capital), Vardar, Northeastern, Eastern, Southeastern, Polog, Southwestern and Pelagonia.
Macedonian Cuisine Facts and History
Due to the fact that in its history Macedonia was long time under the Turkish Ottoman rule, there is a strong Turkish influence, particularly in the selection of sweets and desserts. The greatest influence comes from the immediate neighboring countries – Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece.
Macedonia has lots of original foods as well, and has remained loyal to its culinary heritage. Vegetables, fruits, beans and meats always have the main role when it comes to preparation of dishes. In the recent years fish has also been one of the main products, coming from the three natural lakes, several artificial lakes and from many rivers.
The cattle is mostly used for obtaining dairy products, making these products another important element of the cuisine. Lots of traditional dishes have natural, organic elements and the red pepper sauce is one of the top ingredients in the meals.
Macedonian Cuisine Menu
Macedonians like to enjoy their food, and they are typically slow-eaters. You will never feel hungry as the meals are usually rich and with many different things to try.
The most popular breakfast food in Macedonia is ‘Burek’. It is a type of pie that it has been made ever since the Ottoman times. It is made from several layers of dough, and each of the layers is filled with fillings. Dough layers and fillings are placed in a circular pan and then baked.
Fillings are usually white cheese, spinach or stewed ground meat with onions. Those are traditional fillings, but today there are also some modern burek variants such as with chicken or pizza fillings. After the pie is baked it is cut in four quarterly pieces, and usually eaten together with a liquid yoghurt drink.
‘Simit-pogaca’ is another traditional breakfast food, very popular in the capital Skopje. It is type of bun-sandwich, made of bread bun and greasy layers of pie, but without any fillings like in burek. It reminds of burek, but it is mostly bread filled with bread. It may sound a bit strange, but as soon as you taste it, you will get the idea why it is so popular food for breakfast.
Lunch meals are usually centered on soups, meat and vegetable stews, as well as pieces of meat in combination with different veggies and salads. There are many combinations of meat and vegetables, and rice and beans are also some of the essential types of food eaten for lunch.
Macedonians like to eat and serve different snacks between meals. One always present ingredient for snacks between meals is the cheese. Some snacks that Macedonians usually eat include Cottage Cheese with spinach and Cheese Pastry Turnovers. There are also plenty of types of breads that come in all tastes, forms and shapes which are usually consumed as snacks.
Due to the fact that lunch meals in Macedonia are pretty big, many people skip eating dinner. Also many people combine lunches and dinners together and eat one big meal late in the afternoon. Usually dinners involve light dishes, mostly baked products, pastry, salads or pasta combinations.
Traditional desserts are prepared by using variety of fruits that grow in the country. There are also many desserts that are widely produced and popular in the country, but are also popular in all countries on the Balkan Peninsula. For example, ‘Baklava’ is such sweet dessert popular everywhere on the Balkan. Some traditional desserts are ‘Tulumbi’, ‘Oblanda rolls’, ‘Macedonian Halva’, ‘Ekleri’, ‘Vanilici’, ‘Sutlijach’ and lots of different fruit marmalades.
Turkish coffee is widely consumed non-alcoholic drink, while the most traditional and authentic local drinks are ‘Rakija’ and ‘Mastika’. Both alcoholic drinks have unique strong taste and are made of plums and grapes. Macedonia also has lots of vineyards and produces many great authentic wines. Most popular varietals are the red “Vranec” and white “Smederevka”, both widely consumed.
Traditionally, Christmas Eve dinner is meat-free. Christmas Eve dinner is the last day of the 40-day holiday fasting, so the devoted Christians abstain from eating meat. On Christmas Day, however, meat is back on the table and on this day people usually eat pork, veal or chicken, as well as ‘Sarma’ (cabbage leaves filled with rice and meat) and many vegetarian pies.
Lamb dishes are traditional for Easter, as well as fish and salads.
Most Popular Dishes
Tavche Gravche – This is a national dish of Macedonia. Boiled beans with tomatoes, peppers, onions and spices.
Ajvar – relish made of red peppers, garlic, chilly, eggplant and oil. It is usually homemade at the beginning of autumn season.
Shopska Salata – Rich salad made of diced cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and cheese. It is served as a side dish to every meal.
Sarma – minced meat like pork or beef with added onions, rice, herbs and spices rolled in cabbage leaves.
Selsko meso – traditional dish made of different kinds of meat such as beef, pork or lamb, mixed together with mushrooms and slowly cooked in earthenware pot.
Most Used Ingredients
Pork meat and Ohrid Lake Trout are the most popular types of meat/fish. There is an abundance of vegetables and fruits in the country, so all kinds of veggies and fruits are sold and consumed in large quantities. Most of the herbs and spices are collected from the wide countryside and local mountains, and the spices and herbs are famous for their distinct scent and taste.
Traveling Foodie – What to eat when you travel to Macedonia
Street carts that sell ‘gjevrek’ can be seen on the streets, and that is a popular breakfast food. It is a bagel-like light snack.
Macedonia has plenty of Traditional and International restaurants, serving all kinds of dishes. To try a good local food you should visit the restaurants that are commonly known as “Kafana”. These restaurants serve all kinds of meat and traditional local dishes.
Are you from Macedonia? Maybe you visited there? Please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts on Macedonian ethnic food.