Serbian cuisine traditionally includes a trove of flavors and aromas, created by a mixture of influences from the various nations who passed through here and lived in this area. As in culture in general, this fusion of different influences has resulted in originality, so the rich Serbian table offers unforgettable tastes that can only be experienced in Serbia.
Serbian cuisine is characterized by very diverse, strong, and spicy food, which could roughly be explained as a combination of Greek, Bulgarian, Turkish and Hungarian cuisine. It is dominated by the use of meat, pasta, vegetables, and dairy products.
Food preparation is a special part of Serbian tradition and culture. In Serbian villages, the kitchen was also called the ” hearth”, and the central part was the fireplace or chimney, which was an important, cult place, next to which everyday life took place and the whole family gathered.
Specialties that you simply have to try in Serbia:
Sarma (Cabbage rolls)
The title of one of the most beloved and most famous Serbian cuisine specialties unquestionably belongs to Sarma. It’s an old Serbian dish that has been popular since the Ottoman empire. However, the popularity of Sarma is still at its highest level. For that reason, there are dozens of different recipes for “the best Sarma”. Basically, it’s seasoned minced meat which is rolled in sour cabbage leaves.
Sarma is the dish that never gets boring
Cevapi can rightfully carry the title of the king of Serbian barbecue. Every celebration, whether at a restaurant, out on an excursion, as part of a barbecue in nature, or while socializing are unthinkable without this specialty. With a little onion, rolled or stuffed, together with a glass of good beer, Cevapi will instantly become a favorite food for anyone who tries them once.
It is known that Serbs love to eat, and dinner is one of the most important meals. It used to be lunch when the family gathered and ate together, but as times changed and people started working longer, dinner has replaced lunch. However, the tradition of Sunday lunch is still respected. Nowadays, Serbians often gather in cafes and restaurants with family and friends and usually eat Cevapi for dinner.
Karađorđeva šnicla (Karadjordje’s Steak)
Karadjordje’s steak is a dish that was created spontaneously (by a brilliant Serbian chef) but managed to win many hearts. It is a favorite in Serbia but also around the world.
The dish is named after the Serbian prince and a great military leader Karadjordje and represents a real royal meal! The steak can be either veal or pork, which is rolled and stuffed with kajmak and then breaded and fried. It’s definitely a must-try meal while you are in Serbia.
Serbian dishes with meat are widely known for their strong, good taste and quality, with the most popular preparation being roasting. Roast pork or lamb is an unavoidable dish at Serbian weddings and celebrations. As a sign of love, Serbians often push the most beautiful pieces of meat (without fat or veins) onto the plate of children and loved ones. It’s usually eaten with horseradish and cabbage salad and dipped in salt.
Roast pork or lamb is an unavoidable dish at Serbian weddings and celebrations
Kajmak and Cheese
Speaking of Serbian cheeses, we can’t help but dedicate this section to quality Serbian dairy products, which are most often ordered in restaurants as appetizers.
Although European countries such as France, Greece, the Netherlands, and Italy are known for their own types of cheese that are eaten all over the world, Serbian young, Sremski, and Sjenički cheese have their own place in the hearts of all true cheese lovers.
Kajmak is another food unique for the Balkan area: it is eaten young, when it has a delicate, creamy taste, or older when it has a stronger taste. It is bought with freshly boiled milk.
One of the reasons why foreigners like to come to Serbia, in addition to interesting tourist attractions and hospitality, is the food. Serbs are known as great gourmets and their food delights everyone.
Prebranac (Beans in the Serbian Way)
The always welcome guest of Serbian tables is prebranac (beans that are cooked and then baked in the oven). This dish is usually made of white or kidney beans, and more rarely cranberry or pinto beans. Prebranac is a typical winter dish. On warmer days, it’s usually replaced by Pasulj (bean soup). It is normally prepared with meat, particularly smoked meat such as smoked bacon, sausage, and ham hock, and is a typical winter dish. Other commonly used ingredients include carrots and onions.
Beans cooked in a military helmet are the most awesome
Serbians have the idiom: „prosto kao pasulj“ (“simple as beans”) which equates to the English “as easy as pie“ and French “simple comme chou“.
It is true that tastes for food differ, and so too do recipes for certain dishes. However, a large number of people agree on one thing – Serbian cuisine is a treasure of smells. The tastes of traditional local cuisine are simply hard to resist. All those juicy Cevapcici, crispy sets of buns, enchanting Sarma, irresistible Karadjordje’s steak…
For many specialties of Serbian cuisine, there is no correct word in the dictionaries of foreign languages to describe them, nor a taste with which they can be compared. So it’s best to come to Serbia and try them out. But before you rush to one of the most popular restaurants in Belgrade, Novi Sad, or some other city or village, you should learn some Serbian words and phrases and order with knowledge like you are a local.
One way to do that is to use language learning apps such as the Ling App app.