1. Sarma – Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, 2. Tavce Gravce – Baked Beans, 3. Musaka – Moussaka, 4. Pastrmajlija – Macedonian Pizza, 5. Ajvar – Pepper Spread, 6. Turlitava – Vegetable and Meat Stew, 7. Pindjur – Tomato and Red Pepper Spread, 8. Zelnik – Filo / Phyllo Stuffed Pie, 9. Polneti Piperki – Stuffed Bell Peppers, 10. Shopska salad. If you’re eager to try North Macedonian food and learn more about Macedonian cuisine, you’ve most certainly come to the right place. Here is a list of the top 10 best foods in north Macedonia with recipe, expertly described by a local writer, will have your mouth watering and your tastebuds tingling in no time at all.
- Sarma – Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Tavce Gravce – Baked Beans
- Musaka – Moussaka
- Pastrmajlija – Macedonian Pizza
- Ajvar – Pepper Spread
- Turlitava – Vegetable and Meat Stew
- Pindjur – Tomato and Red Pepper Spread
- Zelnik – Filo / Phyllo Stuffed Pie
- Polneti Piperki – Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Shopska salad
Sarma – Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
This recipe for Serbian stuffed cabbage, or sarma, is a hearty dish that many Serbs eat on a regular basis, but especially on special occasions such as slavas and other holidays. The recipes vary by cook, but they all include a meat mixture wrapped in cabbage and served over sauerkraut. For added flavor, this recipe adds a tomato sauce. Stuffed cabbage can be found in most world cuisines, but it is notably popular among Eastern Europeans. Czechs and Slovaks call them holubky, whereas Poles call them gobki. They always consist of meat and a filler such as rice or barley wrapped in a cabbage leaf and baked on the stove or in the oven.
When cooking sarma, some individuals utilize imported or homemade whole heads of brined cabbage (sauerkraut) known as kiseli kupus. This dish wraps the filling in steamed cabbage leaves and cooks it on a bed of shredded cabbage and sauerkraut. Sarma, or Serbian stuffed cabbage, is a complete dinner on its own and requires little accompanying. A side of fresh bread or potato salad completes the meal, or start with a soup like pasulj.
- 1 (3-to 4-pound) head cabbage, 1 pound ground chuck, 1/2 pound ground pork, 1 cup raw rice, rinsed, 1 (1.4-ounce) package dehydrated onion soup mix, 1 (32-ounce) jar sauerkraut, rinsed and drained, 6 medium smoked ribs, ham hocks, or other smoked meat, 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce, 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato soup
- Place cabbage in the freezer for a few days. The night before making the rolls, take it out to thaw.
- In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, ham, rice, onion, egg, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well. Form meat mixture into oblong balls, using 1/2 cup of the mixture at a time. Then, wrap a cabbage leaf around each ball.
- Spread the sauerkraut in the bottom of a large pot, then layer cabbage rolls on top, placing them seam-side down.
- Pour tomato juice over rolls, then add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 hours, adding more water as necessary.
Tavce Gravce – Baked Beans
Tavce Gravce ranks 2nd in the list of the best foods in north Macedonia with recipe. The closest English equivalent is white bean casserole, but tavce gravce is far superior. Tavce Gravce is just white kidney beans roasted with various veggies on a Tava (local skillet). The main ingredient in tavce gravce is obviously white beans, but the dish also includes a variety of other vegetables and, on the side, sausage or pig ribs. It’s an excellent winter and comfort dish, and it’s also suitable for vegans and vegetarians (if you choose to prepare it without meat). If you want to order this in a restaurant but are vegetarian/vegan, please sure to check how it’s served before ordering.
The old Tavce Gravce recipe involves baking the beans in a wooden oven, and while this lends a unique flavor to the dish, the recipe has been modified to meet the needs of modern people (and their limited time). As shown above, the traditional method of producing Tavce Gravce might take an entire day! If you use canned beans, the preparation time will be greatly reduced, but the taste will not be the same!
- 2 cups white beans – lima beans, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2-3 dry peppers, 3 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, parsley
- Soak the beans overnight in water. After they have been soaked wash them and transfer them to a pot. Cut the onion in circles. Save two peaces of the onion for later and add the rest to the pot. Add the garlic and dry peppers to the pot and cover with water. Cook the beans for 40-50 min or until they are soft.
- Once cooked transfer them to a baking dish, preferably an unglazed earthware dish if possible. Transfer the beans together with the water and add a bit more water to cover them. Add salt, pepper, paprika, and parsley and stir it. Place the onion circles on the top and the cooked dry peppers. Bake in the oven for 1h -1h and a half on 220C / 430F. Once the water has evaporated serve the Tavce Gravce with some soft somun bread and enjoy!
Musaka – Moussaka
North Macedonian musaka, or “moussaka” as it is commonly spelled abroad, is a delicious soul-warming casserole dish that is simple to prepare for dinner. As one might expect, musaka, like chapati, is not just created in North Macedonia. It is a dish found in Ottoman Empire cuisines. Greek and Turkish cuisines have helped to popularize it over the world. However, if you believe you know what musaka (or moussaka) is, there are several distinctions between the North Macedonian form and, say, the Greek one.
When you’re craving beef and potatoes, Musaka is the recipe to make. It is best eaten and served fresh out of the oven because it is rich, full, and spicy. Macedonian musaka is a layer of potato slices topped with ground beef meat and fried onion. It’s seasoned with salt, red pepper spice, and black pepper, and it’s finished with an egg crust for a crispy texture and golden color. Musaka is a genuine taste explosion when baked in the oven. This well-known Ottomon meal has become one of the country’s most popular dishes. Musaka is essentially a traditional recipe with a Macedonian twist.
- 500 g minced meat (beef, pork, or mixed), 800 g potatoes, 1 onion, 3 eggs, 800 ml milk, salt, spices (paprika, black pepper, other to taste), olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Prepare the potatoes – peel and thinly slice them.
- Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat and add onion; cook for 2 minutes.
- When the onion is softened, add the minced meat. Break apart with a wooden spoon and cook until browned. Season it with paprika, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Lay half of the sliced potatoes on the bottom of a baking pan. Season with salt as you go.
- Then, top the potatoes with a minced meat mixture.
- Next, put another layer of potato slices over the meat, until the meat is covered with potatoes. Set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk, add salt, and continue to whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Pour evenly over the potatoes until it is right below the top layer.Note: Don’t pour over the top layer – the liquid will start to boil in the oven. If the liquid doesn’t reach the top layer, add some more milk or water until it does.
- Sprinkle the top layer with some olive oil and salt to get it nicely golden and crispy.
- Bake in the oven until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, about 1 hour. Broil, if desired, to crisp the top further.
Pastrmajlija – Macedonian Pizza
Pastrmajlija rank 4th in the list of the best foods in north Macedonia with recipe. This Macedonian treat is basically a cooked dough pie. It has an oval form and a crust that isn’t too thick or too thin. Pastrmajlija is topped with little bits of salted chopped pork or chicken meat, as well as, believe it or not, pork grease. Macedonians enjoy making pastrmajlijas with pork fat because it softens and tenderizes the dough while also imparting an incredible scent.
Pastrmajlija is prepared differently in different cities around Macedonia, and each restaurant adds their own creative flavor. A beaten egg may be placed on top of a Pastrmajlija. Melted cheese and mushrooms may also be added as toppings. There is one certainty. It is always served with hot green finger peppers on the side for a fiery bite. This Macedonian Pastrmajlija recipe calls for a pizza stone since it softens the dough and ensures that your pastrmajlija always tastes right. A pizza stone can be found here.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup warm water, 1 tsp salt, 1 packet (about 2 tsp) active dry yeast, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 pound boneless pork chops, cut into small cubes, 1 TBSP olive oil plus a little extra, 2 TBSP unsalted butter, softened, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 2 large egg
- In a stand mixer or large bowl add the warm water and sprinkle the yeast over top. Add the flour and the 1 tsp salt, mix until well combined and dough pulls away from sides of bowl.
- Knead the dough 10 minutes by hand or about 5 minutes using a stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl with the 1 tsp of olive oil. Flip the dough ball around to cover in the oil then loosely cover the dough and put in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes.
- In a large bowl add the cubed pork, the 1 TBSP olive oil, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp cayenne. Toss to combine, cover and set aside while the dough rises.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- When the dough has risen punch it down and form it into 2 equal size balls. Place the dough balls on a lightly oiled baking sheet and form each ball into an oval shape roughly 14 inches by 6 inches and roll up the edges to form a lip about 3/4 inch high all the way around.
- Brush the inside of the dough oval with the butter. Sprinkle the pork cubes on top of each dough oval then bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pizzas from the oven. Whisk the eggs in a bowl then pour evenly over the inside of the pizzas over top of the pork.
- Return the pizzas to the oven and bake for about 5 more minutes or until eggs are set and crust is golden brown.
Ajvar – Pepper Spread
Ajvar is traditionally from Serbia, but it expanded throughout the Balkan region after WWII, when the region was known as Yugoslavia. Unlike cevapi, which has many regional variations, ajvar appears to be more standardized, with less variances between recipes. For many Macedonians, ajvar is a legendary dish. So much so that many people are continuing the ritual of making it, no matter how long it takes.
Ajvar is a roasted red pepper, paprika, and eggplant pepper spread. These components are combined, blended, then slowly cooked for several hours in salt and oil. A full day is required to prepare homemade ajvar. However, if you try it with some cheese and toast, you’ll find it’s well worth the effort. Macedonians have it for breakfast, as a spread, or as a dip. Many people who experience this classic pepper spread are blown away by its exceptional flavor and creamy texture. Macedonian families meet to create tens of kilos of ajvar, which is then stored in jars for the winter.
- 2 pounds red bell peppers (about 5 medium peppers), 1 medium eggplant (about 3/4 pound), 5 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 5 medium cloves), 1/4 cup sunflower or olive oil, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste, freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place peppers on hot side of grill and cook until blackened all over, 10-15 minutes. Transfer pepper to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Remove charred skin, seeds, and cores from peppers.
- While the peppers are cooling, pierce skin of eggplant with a fork all over. Place eggplant on cool side of grill. Cover and cook until skin darkens and wrinkles and eggplant is uniformly soft when pressed with tongs, about 30 minutes, turning halfway through for even cooking. Remove eggplant from grill and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Trim top off eggplant and split lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out flesh of eggplant; discard skin.
- Place roasted red peppers, eggplant pulp, and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add in oil, vinegar, and salt and pulse until incorporated and peppers are finely chopped.
- Transfer sauce to a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool to room temperature then use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks
Turlitava – Vegetable and Meat Stew
Turlitava is a combination of the Turkish terms meaning “mixed” (Turli) and “pottery dish” (Tava). Traditional ingredients include potato, eggplant, okra, green bean, pepper, courgette, tomato, onion, carrot, and garlic. Two varieties of meat, usually beef, lamb, or pork, are combined in the same baking pot. Potato pieces and slices, paprika, eggplants, peppers, okras, tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and courgette make up the dish. These components are cooked together before being baked in the oven. Simply leave out the beef for a vegetarian version. In either case, you’ll receive a tasty, filling, and nutritious turlitava.
Turlitava is a colorful, nutritious, and simple to prepare dinner. It is prepared in an earthenware pot, as are other traditional Macedonian recipes. This isn’t necessary because it may be cooked in any casserole dish or iron pot with any vegetable combination. The dish’s name is derived from the Turkish terms turli, which means “mixed,” and tava, which is an earthenware pot.
- 1 lb mix of meat beef, lamb, or pork cut into chunks, 2 tsp sea salt ground, ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground, 1 medium onion peeled and chopped roughly, 3 cloves garlic minced, 2 medium potatoes chopped roughly (peeled or unpeeled), 2 medium carrots chopped roughly, 1 medium eggplant chopped roughly, 2 red or green peppers seeds removed and chopped, 1 large tomato roughly chopped, 1½ cup okra ends chopped off, 1 Tbsp paprika, ¼ cup olive oil, ½ cup water, 1 bunch parsley roughly chopped (for garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Top and tail the okra and blanch for 1 minute in salted water, rinse, drain, and set aside.
- Season the meat chunks to taste with salt and pepper. Place inside the baking dish.
- Mix in all the chopped vegetables and the okra.
- Add olive oil and water and mix well.
- Put in the oven and cook uncovered for an hour and 30 minutes.
- Stir two or three times while baking.
- Remove from the oven. Let the dish stand for 15 minutes.
- Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
Pindjur – Tomato and Red Pepper Spread
Pindjur ranks 7th in the list of the best foods in north Macedonia with recipe. It is a typical spread made with various vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and eggplants, but other vegetable combinations are not unusual. Cow-horn peppers, a fragrant, not overly spicy pepper found in abundance in the Balkan region, are the major component in the traditional pindjur recipe. The dish originated in the Republic of Macedonia, but it is also popular in Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and even Romania.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, salted fish roe was particularly popular in Balkan countries. It was one of the most popular dishes among the elites, and every bar in the region served it as a specialty. However, supply issues made providing this famous dish problematic in the mid-nineteenth century, and many tavern owners began experimenting with the ingredients they had on hand. Although some sources indicate that these spreads were popular in many households in the region prior to this century, the exquisite spreads of ajvar and pindjur were developed through a process of trial and error. Following this, the two spreads began to spread over the Balkans, becoming an indispensable component of not just local cuisines but also local culture.
- 11 pounds tomatoes, 3.5 cups oil, 7 ounces sugar, 13.5 ounces white wine vinegar, 11 pounds red bull horn’s peppers or red bell peppers, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 batches parsley, 14-15 garlic cloves, 1-2 chili peppers, 1 pair of latex gloves, Several glass jars
- Grill the vegetables, preferably, the day before making the pindjur and leave them overnight.2. Add the peppers in a baking pot and bake for 20 minutes at 180 C (360 F).
- If needed, turn the peppers occasionally and make sure they’re slightly darkened on all sides.
- Take the peppers out, cover them with a plastic bag and let them cool off.
- Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes at 180 C (360 F).
- Put the tomatoes in a bowl and cover them with a plastic wrap until they cool off.
- Bake the eggplants for 20 minutes at 180 C (360 F).
- Take the eggplants out and cover them with a plastic wrap until they cool off.
- Once cooled off, start peeling the vegetables. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and the skin from the eggplants.
- Slice the peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants, keep them in a large bowl, and let them dry overnight.
- Remove the skin from the tomatoes and cut them into tiny pieces.
- Slice the garlic into tiny pieces and add combine it with the other vegetables.
- Add some salt, sugar, and vinegar and cook on low heat for approximately 3 hours while stirring regularly.
- Increase the heat at the end and aim to make the dish as dry as possible.
- Once all the liquid evaporates, the pindjur is ready.
- Top the pindjur with some parsley, serve it with some bread and cheese and enjoy!
- If you want to store it in a jar, wait for the pindjur to cool off before you seal it.
Zelnik – Filo / Phyllo Stuffed Pie
The name “zelnik” comes from the word “zelje,” which means cabbage, and plainly refers to the major element of this delectable pastry. Traditionally, zelnik is a cabbage or spinach filo pie similar to burek, another delectable dessert prevalent in Turkey, Central Asia, and most Slavic nations, although there is no proof as to which came first. The fundamental distinction between zelnik and burek is in the crust and layers; zelnik always has thinner layers and crust and is typically prepared for holidays or special events. Zelnik is also typically filled with cabbage or spinach, as opposed to burek, which is typically filled with minced pork or white cheese.
In recent years, there have been more versions available, such as fillings with cheese, eggs, minced beef, leeks, sorrel, or even rice. This zelnik recipe, on the other hand, explains the traditional method of making this delectable pastry (with cabbage or spinach). Zelnik is typically served hot with a glass of yogurt, ayran, or kefir. It’s typically eaten for breakfast or as a small meal.
- 700 Grams White Flour, 1 Tablespoon Salt, 3 Tablespoons Oil, 250 Grams of Butter or Margarine, 2 Eggs (beaten). 1 Cup of Water, 1 Teaspoon Vinegar, 250 Grams of White Cheese, ½ kg of Cabbage or Spinach, 2 Leeks (optional), 2 Eggs (beaten), 1 Tablespoon Salt , 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- To begin, sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the vinegar, salt, oil and half of the water and mix together with a fork until it starts to come together. Add as much of the remaining water as you need to make a dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface
- Knead for a few minutes until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes
- In the meantime, make the filling. In a pan over a medium heat, sweat the onion, leeks, garlic and bacon in a little oil (or butter) until soft and slightly golden. Stir in the feta and parsley and season generously. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool
- Use your hands to roll the dough into a sausage and cut into 10 pieces. Take a piece of dough and cover the remaining 9 pieces with cling film to prevent them from drying out
- Roll the dough as thinly as you possibly can into a large rectangular shape, then gently stretch it further using your hands. Ideally the dough should be thin enough to be able to see your hand through it
- Once the dough is as thin as you can make it, brush the filo sheet with melted butter/oil and cover with cling film. Roll out the next piece in the same way, remove the cling film from the first sheet and place the second over the top
- Brush liberally with more melted butter and place the sheet of cling film back on. Continue until all the dough has been rolled and brushed with melted butter, giving you 10 layers
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7
- Place the layered filo in front of you, horizontally, and trim off the edges of the pastry to make a neat rectangle. Spoon the filling into a line a few inches in from the edge of the filo closest to you. Now for the fun bit!
- Roll the whole thing up tightly into a long sausage and, with the seam underneath, coil the sausage into a tight ring.
- Butter a round ovenproof dish, big enough for the pie to snugly fit into the dish. Use a couple of fish slices, or any other long flat implement to hand, to carefully transfer the pie to the dish
- Brush the top of the pie with more melted butter and sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 20 minutes
- Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and continue to bake for another 20 minutes. Leave to cool for 15–20 minutes before carefully transferring the pie to a serving plate. Slice into wedges to serve
Polneti Piperki – Stuffed Bell Peppers
Cevapi, or kebapi as it is known locally, is grilled minced meat mixed with onions, salt, and pepper. Cevapi are rolled into sausage forms, although their longer, thinner girth more closely resembles chipolatas. The likeness of cevapi to a Turkish kofta kebab, which is a mixed-meat sausage formed onto skewers for simple cooking, demonstrates the Turkish influence.
There are numerous characteristics that distinguish cevapi. To begin, they are made with a combination of beef, lamb, and/or pork. This combination of meats gives the sausage a distinct flavor and texture. Another unique and intriguing feature of these sausages is that they are un-cased. That is, unlike bratwurst, boerwors, or other cased sausages, you do not need a sausage filling attachment to prepare these delicious sausages! This makes them quite simple to create.
Finally, these fellas are grilled, which means they benefit from a nice infusion of smoke, just like any other grilled sausage. However, because these sausages lack a casing that keeps all of the smoky goodness on the outside, the smoke taste permeates deep into the sausage. And, because these sausages are composed of fatty meat, the fat drops into the coals, causing the flames to jump upward, creating a magnificent hiss and pop, as well as an exquisite smell!
- 1 lb ground beef, 85% lean, ½ lb ground pork, 3 garlic cloves, minced, 1 ¼ tsp salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp paprika, ¾ tsp baking soda
- In a large bowl mix together all ingredients.
- Using slightly over 1 Tbsp of meat mixture per sausage, shape the mixture into sausages the size and shape of a fat finger (roughly 3 inches long and ¾ of an inch in diameter).
- Place all the formed sausages in a single layer on a platter. Cover the platter and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (up to overnight).
- When you are ready to cook your sausages, preheat your grill to medium heat, 350-400⁰F. (You should be able to hold your hand a few inches from the cooking grate for 5-7 seconds.)
- Grill the sausages using a fine grate grill pan for 4-5 minutes a side, until golden and springy.
- Serve the cevapi with sliced sweet onions and flatbread (like lepinja or pita).
Shopska salad is a traditional Balkan dish, originating mostly in Bulgarian cuisine but also in Serbian and Macedonian cuisine. It is also known as Bulgarian salad. It was invented in 1955 at the Chernomorets restaurant on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast near Varna. It was established to increase the gourmet offerings of the Druzhba tourist resort. Shopska salad is a simple and refreshing salad that comes together quickly. Cucumbers, tomatoes, spring onions, peppers, and salty cheese are used to make it.
However, through time, it gained acceptance in Serbia and has become an essential component of Serbian cuisine. In reality, a Serbian Salad that is extremely similar exists. Serbian salad, on the other hand, is created with the same ingredients but without the cheese. Shopska salad is popular in several nations. Bulgărească salad, or Bulgarian salad, is known in Romania, Opsk salad in the Czech Republic, and Saatka szopska in Poland. It is known as the Sallat Shope in Albania and the Sopszka saláta in Hungary.
It takes its name from the Sopa tribe, who lived in modern-day Bulgaria, Serbia, and Macedonia. Along with it, several salads were invented and named after Balkan geographical locations. Shopska salad, it turns out, has become the most popular. It became a national culinary icon of Bulgaria during the 1970s and 1980s. The European Parliament hosted the “A Taste of Europe” Online Contest in 2014. The Shopska salad recipe received the most votes and was voted #1. A cold beetroot soup from Lithuania and sarmale from Romania followed closely behind.
- 2-3 large vine tomatoes, 1 English cucumber, ½ cup crumbled white cheese, ½ white onion, 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or olive oil, 1/2 lime, Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and dice the cucumber, chop the tomatoes, and add them to a salad bowl.
- Add the chopped parsley and diced onion.
- Combine the olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper, and add the resulting salad dressing to the salad.
- Toss the salad and top with the crumbled white cheese.