National Bulgarian cuisine, as well as cuisine of all the Balkan peoples, is surprisingly rich and varied. Geographic location, proximity to Greece and Turkey, the centuries-old historical ties, as well as the many decades of the Turkish rule in the Balkans, had an impact on its kitchen. A common culture, the same starting materials have led to the fact that the Bulgarian cuisine has a lot of similarities with the kitchens of Turkey and Greece. She inherited the culinary traditions of the Byzantine Empire. Bulgarian cuisine is also very reminiscent of traditional Armenian and Georgian dishes. However, despite the influence of different peoples and cultures, the Bulgarian cuisine has managed to preserve its identity and its many dishes were authentic.
The main thing that is typical for the Bulgarian national cuisine - extensive use of various spices, herbs, and greens. Bay leaf, parsley, mint, savory, red, black and allspice, onion and garlic give a unique, delicate flavor of the dish, which is impossible to convey in words. You should feel it yourself! Another feature of the Bulgarian cuisine is the love of meat, a variety of vegetables, legumes and dairy products. Fruits are used fresh, pickled and salted, fried, stewed and baked as a garnish for meat dishes and main dishes on their own. Particularly renowned Bulgarian chefs for their skills in cooking stuffed vegetables. The famous stuffed sweet pepper is already known far beyond its borders. Vegetables in the Bulgarian cuisine are perfectly combined with milk and flour products, meat and fish.
Bulgarians love and dairy products: yogurt, kefir, ayran, kiselo mlyako - the world-famous yogurt. Fermented foods have here a special, unique taste, thanks to special lactic acid bacteria, which exist only in Bulgaria. Similar to the yogurt, a little sour thickened milk is added to salads and desserts, used for the preparation of cold appetizers and soups, because this product is not only tasty but also very healthful. It is believed that it increases life. Yogurt is used to prepare many dishes, such as the famous milk soup - tarator.
We should also mention the cheeses, which occupy a special place of the Bulgarian cuisine. Bulgarians love them very much. The most popular is sirene (soft salty cheese). With bread and green peppers it is considered almost a national dish. Sirene is eaten as a snack with wine, in many meat and vegetable dishes, pastries, omelets. Kashkaval (yellow solid cow, sheep or goat cheese) is also used separately and together with brynza for the filling of the famous Banica (layered pies and cakes), and in various dishes.
Another feature of the Bulgarian cuisine is cooking method. Most soups and main dishes are prepared on low simmer. All the ingredients of foods are laid at a time and are cooked nearly 1 hour.
Bulgarian cuisine is rich on salads, soups, vegetable dishes. Meat and poultry hold a special place in it. Bulgarians prefer stew meat or roasted on a spit or a lattice (skhare) on the coals. The choice of meat dishes is quite diverse: meshana skara (assorted several kinds of cutlets and kebabs), shishcheta - small skewers of pork, lamb or chicken, kebabcheta (kebabchi) - sausages of minced meat, like kebab, hot and cold snacks from the sausages (lukanka, starets), dried meat (pastyrma or fillet), stew or fried entrails. For main dishes, meat usually stewed with vegetables and baked in special clay pots "gyuvecheta" in the oven.
The most popular of them: gyuvech - meat (usually lamb) with potatoes, tomatoes, garlic and other vegetables, kavarma - meat with onions, sweet peppers, with the addition of red wine, kapama - several types of meat and sausage, stewed with sour cabbage or fresh cabbage, famous moussaka - casserole with minced meat, potatoes, eggplant and cheese (usually feta), sach - meat fried with vegetables and mushrooms on a special griddle "sach", which is served directly in it, sarmi - stuffed pork, beef or lamb in cabbage or grape leaves, drob-sarma - stuffed lamb. Very popular is plnenichushka - stuffed with meat and rice, pepper sauce, reminiscent of béchamel and Plaka - the fish, stewed with vegetables. Dishes with meat are usually quite fatty. Keep in mind that in the mechanas (so called local restaurants) portions are pretty big.
National cuisine - is the hallmark of the country. It creates the first and perhaps most important impression about the country and its people. In Bulgaria you should certainly try its most popular national dishes, such as Shopska salad, bean chorba, bean yahniya, chushka byurek, soup tarator, kashkaval pan, banica and many others.
Meals in Bulgaria necessarily begin with a salad, and it is with Shopska salad, which offers at any mehana or cafe. Shopska salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, baked sweet pepper, onion, fresh parsley and cheese with olive oil and apple cider vinegar is considered a true national dish. This salad is known in various forms throughout the Balkans. In Greece, it is called "Greek salad" and prepares traditionally with the addition of olives and lemon juice. Another very popular salad in Bulgaria "Snezhanka" is made of yogurt, cucumber and garlic and resembles Greek "tzatziki".
Bulgarian table can’t be imagining without soups. Famous chorba are its main dish and decoration. There are a wide range of soups, such as hot - meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, green, cold, sour milk, cream soups. They are prepared according to the time of year. Every town and village has its own special recipe. The well-known folk saying shows how Bulgarians relate to chorba: "Well, when the table has chorba even let out of stone. It will help to eat anything else! "
Bulgaria is a cold soup tarator (version of the Russian okroshka). Here it is prepared in its own way: cucumber, chopped walnuts and garlic, fresh dill and sour milk "kisele mlyako". This tender, delicious soup brings freshness and coolness, so it is usually prepared in the summer, in the hot season.
Among the hot Bulgarian soups bean chorba is especially popular - a thick soup of beans with vegetables and special fragrant spices. Especially tasty it is from beans grown in the Rhodope Mountains. It has an amazing aroma and gives the dish a special color and flavor. The peasant version of the soup includes cooked smoked sausage or kyufta (fried meatballs). Traditionally, bean-chorba used with hot pepper (luta chushka) and a special salt seasoning sharena sol. In winter, a hot spicy soup can be very useful.
Another popular soup in Bulgaria - holiday shkembe chorba of fried in oil veal tripe with hot garlic sauce. You will certainly be offered to try it.
Meals in Bulgaria can not be imagined without the chushka byurek, kashkaval pan, bean yahniya, lutenitsa and, of course, fascinating banica.
Chushka byurek – sweet peppers baked in the fire, stuffed with different fillings. Usually, it’s cheese with egg and parsley, while the filling can differ. Stuffed peppers fried in batter or breading. Chushka byurek can be a delicious side dish to any meal, and it is also served separately with herbs and vegetables. It should be noted that sweet pepper - one of the most important ingredients in the Bulgarian cuisine, its main feature. It is a part of almost all food and so probably got the name - Bulgarian. There have even invented a special device "chushkopek" for his baking.
Kashkaval Pan is a special solid Bulgarian cheese kashkane with unusual taste, fried in breadcrumbs. It does not melt during frying and remains soft and elastic. The dish is eaten freshly scented with fruit vinegar, which gives it a more refined taste.
The most common and popular dish in Bulgaria can be called bean yahniya. This unusually gentle beans, cooked in a pot. Beans stewed with vegetables and seasoned with a little water. This is a very tasty dish independent and perfect side dish to meat, cutlets, sausages.
Banica - light layer cake or roll from thin as parchment, traditional Bulgarian dough, which put any stuffing between layers. The most common is the cheese, although there may be vegetables, herbs and grasses, fruits, nuts, honey and many others. Banica - one of the favorite desserts among not only Bulgarians but also tourists, especially among the sweet tooth. Banica with ayran or sour mlyako is a traditional breakfast in Bulgaria. Bulgarian hostess on New Year's baked in a pie leaflets with New Year wishes - "kysmeti".
Like every nation, the Bulgarians have special, festive dishes. On Christmas Eve, here are preparing meatless chushka (stuffed sweet pepper) and sarma, for the New Year - kapama and other dishes with sour cabbage, to the day of St. Nicholas (6 December) - fish, on Easter (Velik den) - cozonac, and on the Day of courage (St. George's Day) - roasted lamb.
Of course, the meal in Bulgaria can’t be without local wine, characterized by an amazing taste. Wine art in the country has hundreds of years. Bulgarian white and red wines, which are more than 600 variaties, are widely known in the world. The most popular of them are "Gamza", "Pamid", "Merlot", "Trakia", "Hotel", "Muscat Ottone", "Cabernet Sauvignon", "Melnik", "Mavrud", "Khan Krum Traminer", "Galatea"," Rila monastery","Riesling","Kadarka" and others.
Fans of stronger drinks can enjoy traditional strong drinks: liqueurs, mastic (47%) and the famous Bulgarian rakia - fruit vodka, aged in oak barrels. This gives it a rich flavor, reminiscent of brandy. Usually, The alcohol content of rakia is normally 40% ABV. Home-made rakia is much stronger - from 50 to 60 % ABV, so do not drink it in one gulp. You can enjoy a delicious plum rakia, grape, apricot rakia, cherry rakia, and from all other fruits and berries, preserving their flavor and taste. Rakia from roses or gyulova rakia, gyulovitsa is one of the most exotic of the Bulgarian representatives of alcoholic beverages. Every master kept in secrecy the technology and fine production. Gyulova rakia is one of the symbols of the Valley of Roses, sung in the works of classics of Bulgarian literature. The most popular varieties of brandy: "Burgas 63 - Perlov," "Peshtersko", "Alambik", "Straldzhanska muskatova", "Tsar Simeon", "Vratsa Temenuga", "Biserna muskatova". There is something to offer to the Bulgarian fans and beer. They will like for sure the strongest Bulgarian beers, such as "Pirin", "Burgas", "Ariana", "Shumen Beer", "Astika" and "Zagorka".
Sweet tooths do not be deprived of in Bulgaria: here is a paradise for them! You can try all: Oriental sweets (baklava, turkish delight, tulumba, burek, halva, etc.) and European - Viennese cakes and pastries. Ice cream lovers should try "Melba" - a cold miracle of fresh fruit, whipped cream with nuts and syrup.
Bulgarians can’t live without coffee. The most favorite - coffee in Turkish. It is drunk at any time of the day and offered everywhere: restaurants, mechanas, cafes, bars. In recent years, espresso became also very popular in Bulgaria.
Delicious dishes, hot spices, aromatic brandy and wine make an amazing Bulgarian cuisine unique, give it a special flavor. Stories, pictures and descriptions can’t share the whole range of feelings and taste sensations that feel at the abundant and hospitable Bulgarian table! Fully enjoy gastronomic and culinary delights from the Bulgarian national cuisine you can only here in Bulgaria!