Tag: Traditional Foods of Serbia

Legendary Dishes | Pečene Paprike (roasted peppers)


This is grill-roasted long peppers stuffed with hard and semi-soft cheeses, for the ingredients and method scroll down.

There are two culinary secrets associated with the success of roasted peppers. The first is freshness. The second is debated. Some cooks believe grilled peppers produce a better flavour than baked peppers.

Roasted peppers are delicious on their own with a little seasoning or in a salad and as a spread on bread. When they are stuffed, with cheese or nuts, they are sublime but when they are made into ajvar, the red pepper sauce of the Balkans, they are exquisite.

Small long peppers, around 75 grams, will take 20 minutes under a grill with constant turns.

Large long peppers, around 150 grams, will take 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 220ºC.

  • 8 peppers (bell and long – green, red, yellow), washed, dried
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt
  • Oil, for greasing

Place the peppers on a greased baking tray or greased grill.

Preheat oven to 220ºC or grill to highest heat. Bake or grill until the skin blisters, bubbles, flakes and darkens. On the grill turn the peppers.

Transfer quickly to a large bowl, cover and leave to cool.

Remove skin and use as desired.

Stuffed Roasted Peppers

  • 2 small red peppers, grill-roasted, peeled
  • 50 g semi-soft cheese, grated
  • 25 g hard cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp hot paprika powder

Preheat grill to highest setting.

Arrange the roasted peppers on an ovenproof dish, dress with lemon juice and the red pepper flakes. Sprinkle the cheeses on top, dust with hot paprika.

Grill for seven minutes, until the cheese begins to melt.

Fold the roasted peppers over and slide onto a plate. This a quantity for one.

Indigenous Ingredients

Paprika Peppers

Legendary Dishes | Ðevrek Pljeskavice (doughnut {bagel} burgers)


The đevrek is a bagel-shaped burger flavoured with bacon, cheese, garlic, onion and hot paprika pepper baked on or under a grill, served with cream or cheese in the hole. Veal is preferred to beef, taken from the neck and shoulder, with a small amount of bacon and pork.

  • 800 g beef / veal (shoulder, neck), minced
  • 100 g bacon / speck, chopped small
  • 100 g pork belly, minced
  • 100 g shallots, chopped small
  • 75 g hard cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed, minced
  • 2 tbsp spring water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 10 g red pepper flakes
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt


  • 120 g cream / hard curd cheese (feta)

In a bowl squeeze the minced meat until the fat begins to separate onto the bowl. Combine the minced meat with the water, shallots, bacon, pork belly, garlic, cheese and seasonings in that order.

Using a little oil on the fingers, roll into long sausage shapes, bring each edge around into a circle, press edges together.

Grill for seven minutes, turn over and grill for five minutes. Place cheese or cream in the hole, grill for three minutes.

Indigenous Ingredients

Beef / Veal

Condiments | Ajvar (red pepper sauce)


Red pepper sauce with Balkan bagel burgers

Once used as a main food dish, these days this red pepper sauce is a condiment.

When the peppers are in season, they are carefully selected for their firmness, cooked in bulk and stored in jars for use through the year.

Kurtovka, a meaty paprika pepper with a low water content, is the preferred choice. Long red peppers can be used but their water content is high.

The peppers are roasted, blended, soaked in oil for half an hour, then gradually heated and simmered for four to five hours. Near the end of cooking a splash of vinegar and a 2:1 ratio of sugar to salt is added.

For 50 peppers, about 5 kilos, 200 ml of oil is needed, two teaspoons of vinegar, one tablespoons of sugar and about one to two teaspoons of salt.

Some versions include crushed garlic.

This quantity is for immediate use.

  • 1 kg paprika peppers / red horn peppers, washed, dried, roasted, skin and seeds removed
  • 60 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 hot pepper, washed, dried, roasted, skin and seeds removed (optional) / 5 g paprika flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed, mashed (optional)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 splash grape vinegar / wine vinegar
  • Salt, pinch

This is the coarse method.

Put the peppers, garlic, oil and vinegar into a pot, bring heat to medium-high, cook for 15 minutes to release the water in the peppers.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Add sugar and a pinch of salt, simmer for an hour.

When there is no liquid left in the sauce it is ready.

Indigenous Ingredients

Paprika Peppers / Red Horn Peppers

Legendary Dishes | Zapečeni Grah (baked beans)


There are countless versions of this iconic Balkan dish across the region. The beans are the common denominator, tomatoes are a constant and the red pepper sauce called ajvar is the secret ingredient.

  • 500 ml passata
  • 400 g onion, sliced
  • 250 g cannellini beans / white beans, soaked for 24 hours, cooked with a bay leaf, cooking liquid retained
  • 250 g pork sausage, chopped thick, cut into quarters (optional)
  • 150 g pancetta, chopped small
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ajvar
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g sweet paprika
  • 5 g peperoncino / red pepper flakes
  • 5 g vegeta / dried vegetables and seasonings
  • 5 sprigs parsley

Sauté onions, pancetta and garlic in the oil for 25 minutes.

Add beans, ajvar, passata, some of the cooking liquid, parsley and seasonings, and, if using, the sausage.

Transfer hot to an ovenproof dish, bake at 200°C for 30 minutes.

Serve with Balkan bagel burgers.

Indigenous Ingredients

Red Pepper Flakes
White Beans

Legendary Dishes | Mešano Meso (mixed grill)

Mixture for the mixed grill dish called cevap

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.

beef rissoles

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.

Legendary Dishes | Pogača (bread cake)

Punjena Pogača – stuffed version

There are hundreds of recipes for this iconic bread cake, popular across the Balkans. They all follow the same basic recipe with subtle differences between the quantity of the ingredients – liquid (milk and water or both) plus eggs, fat, oil and yeast – and the dry-wet ratio. If it is more of a bread the ratio should be 550 millilitres wet (egg, milk, oil, water) to 1000 grams dry, with a margarine fold into the dough or smeared on top. If it is more of a cake the ratio should be 650 millilitres (butter, cream, egg, juice) to 1000 grams dry. Some recipes combine the two methods to produce a pastry made with a slack dough of butter, eggs, milk, oil and yoghurt.

Punjena Pogača

stuffed bread cake

  • 600 g white wheat flour, t500
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 150 ml margarine, softened
  • 120 g cheese, cubed small
  • 120 g salami, cubed small
  • 2 eggs, 1 with white and yolk separated
  • 20 g yeast dissolved in 50 ml lukewarm water, with two tablespoons of flour and a teaspoon of vanilla sugar, for between thirty and sixty minutes depending on the ambient temperature
  • 10 g sesame seeds
  • 5 g salt
  • 1 tsp oregano, dried, crushed

Sieve flour into a large bowl, add whole egg and egg white, sour cream, margarine, salt and yeast mixture, knead into a soft dough. Leave to rise for an hour.

Divide dough into two pieces. Roll each piece into a thin round, divide into eight triangles.

Put salami cubes and cheese cubes into a bowl, season with oregano and large pinches of black pepper and salt, place a tablespoon of this mixture on each triangle, shape into a round bun.

Coat two round baking trays with oil and a sprinkling of flour. Arrange the buns in a circle, in a tight side by side formation but leave the central area clear. Cut the remaining buns in half and fill the center with the tops of the buns round side up. Brush surface of each dough with egg yolk wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 250ºC until the surface begins to brown, about 15 minutes.