Serbia is a culinary gateway. It leads in various directions to the fabulous food of the people who have inhabited the Balkan lands for thousands of years.
The Ottoman influence is still present but as each of the Balkan countries and regions assert their own cultural identities in the fast lanes of the 21st century, the slow food of past centuries becomes prominent. Among these are the methods used to cook meat, especially beef, chicken, pork and veal.
At Cevap kod Dekija on Strahinjića Bana 71 in old Belgrade, between the Danube and Sava rivers, they make the argument that the grill does not always indicate fast food. ‘It is one of the best and healthiest ways to prepare meat,’ they say and it is hard to argue with them or with this food identity.
Their specialties, made with high quality cuts and products of beef and veal cooked over beech charcoal, epitomise the mešano meso culture of Serbia. These include burgers, sausages and the rissoles known as cevap and ćevapčiči made from ground beef and seasonings.
Cevap / Ćevapčići
- 1 kg beef, minced
- 45 ml water
- 10 g sweet paprika, ground
- 10 g salt
- 10 g pepper
- Olive oil, for greasing
Bring all ingredients together in a large bowl and knead until the fat in the meat starts to separate onto the hands. Leave to stand for an hour in a cold place.
Shape into croquettes, about 10 cm long, 3 cm thick.
Oil a grill and place them together without touching each other. Grill, turning several times, until they are cooked.
Serve with onions and paprika in lepinje.