Macedonia, the land of sun and the land of the tastes and gourmands. It's fair to say that after couple of years, when you're gonna reminiscing your visit in Skopje and Macedonia, it’s possible that it won’t be the city attractions that you're gonna remember most fondly. It will be the food that combines Balkan and Mediterranean characteristics.
From appetizers, main dishes, salads to desserts, Macedonian cuisine is based on fresh and natural ingredients that vary according to the season. The originality of the dishes is assured by the development of the cooking techniques and by the use of the local ingredients.
Macedonian cuisine is diverse and there are dozens of local dishes to try. Of course, all of them goes very well with intense aromas of the macedonian wines. Salads are perfectly paired with the local wine varieties such as Rkatsiteli or Zilavka. Tavche gravche (baked beans) or Selsko meso (a classic meat dish) go very well with the dark-skinned Vranec who will stay in your mind as a wine of serious international quality. And if you’re trying the local goats cheese, make sure you wash it down with a glass of Stanushina or Temjanika.
Here are few traditional Macedonian dishes that you have to taste it to believe it.
Tavche Gravche (beans in a skillet) is Macedonia’s national dish, a thick and chunky bean stew that is cooked in the traditional earthenware. The beans are mixed with onion, peppers, tomato, oil, flour and various spices. You can order Tavce Gravce with meat, but it’s usually eaten without.
Tavce Gravce can be enjoyed as a side dish to any meal, or as a meal on its own with a side-salad sprinkled with white sheep cheese or feta cheese, and a loaf of crusty bread.
Pastrmajlija or Macedonian pizza, is an oval or rectangular shaped fried dough pie, topped with chopped salted meat.
Most often served with eggs and hot peppers on the top and slides down delightfully with red wine.
The term Pastrmajlija comes from the word pastrma, meaning salted and dried/smoked meat. This meal is so popular in the country there’s even a annual national festival for this dish in Macedonia.
It's definitely must try!
Selsko meso or village meat, is a dish that has a lot of variations.
It is prepared in a clay pot with pork, smoked meat, ground beef, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, carrots, mushroom, peppers, spices and whatever other winter vegetables can be added.
Served with cream cheese on top, all one needs is a good glass of wine and some crusty bread!
Sarma is a favorite dish not only in Macedonia but all over the Balkans. It's made from pickled cabbage leaves and is very common to eat in the winter months.
The small wraps of these leaves are filled with minced meat, onion, spices and chopped veggies. Sarma can also be vegetarian (only rice).
A common substitute for this dish is wraps from grape leaves, served with a few heaping spoonfuls of plain yogurt.
Turli tava is a good and hearty stew, cooked in the traditional earthenware. This dish is made of potatoes, onions, eggplant, peppers, okra, carrots, rice and ground meat.
All these ingredients are mixed and baked in an oven in a traditional pottery dish.
Serve it warm, grab some crusty bread and enjoy!
Musaka is a potato or eggplant-based dish, popular in Macedonia and other Balkan countries.
Macedonian version consists couple of layers of sliced potatoes, ground meat, sliced eggplant, onions and an assortment of veggies and spices. The top layer is usually finished with milk-based sauce thickened with eggs, giving it a wonderfully golden color.
Serve it with a side of homemade bread and a simple salad.
Polneti piperki i domati
Polenti piperki i domati (stuffed peppers and tomatoes) is a delicious meal made of sweet peppers (red, yellow or orange) and tomatoes, stuffed with a mixture of rice, minced meat and vegetables.
The peppers and tomatoes are then baked in the juices from the meat mixture and served with plain yogurt or sour cream.
Skara (grilled meat) is for all you meat lovers out there. Is it gonna be kebapcinja, spiced grilled minced meat composed into the shape of a sausage, served with freshly baked flat bread, kajmak, spring onion and hot small peppers? Maybe Sharska pleskavica, grilled meat patty stuffed with cheese and topped with more cheese, served with ajvar and french fries?
There are many things to choose from the grill and whatever you order, you won't regret it.
Ajvar & Pinjur
Ajvar or the Balkan salsa, is roasted red pepper and eggplant relish that can be consumed as a dip with crusty bread and goat cheese, in sandwiches, as a condiment, or as a salad.
Usually is homemade at the beginning of autumn all over the country, just after the pepper harvest.
Pinjur is similar to ajvar but is generally made with aubergines.
Shopska is the all time favorite salad that is ordered with almost every meal. It's made of chopped cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, onions, peppers and white brine cheese, decorated with parsley. All the flavors blend so well together that with the help of the tomato juice and creamy cheese, it’s like a flavor explosion.
It can be served as a summery pre-meal appetizer or as a side dish with any summer meal.