Famous Serbian Foods: What to Eat & Drink in Belgrade
One of the best ways to get to know a country’s culture is through its cuisine. Every nation has something that makes its food special.
Serbia also has a strong fast-food culture, partly because the country is well-known for its nightlife, Belgrade in particular, and its capital is one of those that never sleeps. In Belgrade you can eat well at any time of the day.
And although most of the dishes listed below are not vegan, you can easily find vegetarian or even vegan alternatives if you ask for posno – food that is prepared without animal products (except for fish) at times of fasting and is widely available.
Ready to take a closer look at the best foods that Belgrade and Serbia has to offer? Read on while we take you on a tour!
Although pljeskavica is often translated as the closest thing to a hamburger, it certainly has a taste of its own. It’s regarded as a fast-food dish, and although it can be ordered in all national restaurants, it is rarely made at home.
That’s because it tastes best from one of the ubiquitous fast-food kiosks, which are often attached to Serbian bakeries – and the shabbier the place looks, the greater the chance that the pljeskavica tastes amazing.
Serbians snack on them anytime, anywhere, and they’re the number one choice for a late-night or after-party meal. When you order pljeskavica, it comes in bread called lepinja, with a choice of side dishes and toppings to choose from.
2. Ćevapi (Ćevapčići)
Ćevapi or ćevapčići is another famous Serbian meat-based dish, most commonly ordered in restaurants, but you can also find them in fast-food places.
Made with a mix of beef, lamb and/or pork, these uncased sausages differ from the Bosnian version of ćevapi which are typically based on different cuts of ground beef.
The culture surrounding ćevapi is similar to the one surrounding pljeskavica, but do try eating them the traditional way, with fresh onions and kajmak – a special type of thick cream for an unforgettable savory treat.
As you’d guessed ćevapi is a a hugely popular dish in Bosnia as well, but also in neighboring Bulgaria.
There used to be a time when you’d only find burek in bakeries in the early morning or by lunch time at the latest, because it’s one of the most popular breakfast foods in Serbia.
As it’s quite heavy and filling, you won’t be hungry again for several hours. When you try burek, be sure to get some Serbian yogurt as well, because the two of them go so perfectly together.
While in Bosnia burek is synonymous with a meat pie, in Serbia it’s made with cheese, so it’s easy to get confused if you’re a tourist traveling in the Balkans.
Burek has become so popular bakeries are now coming up with different takes on the classic recipe – you can even find burek with chocolate if you’re lucky!
Gibanica is another cheese pie made with layers of filo pastry filled with sirene (white cheese) that is more typically made at home.
If you are visiting a Serbian family you will very likely be served this. It is perfect for breakfast, but is often served as an appetizer as well, and you may even find sweet versions.
No winter holiday feels complete without a big pot of home-made sarma. It’s a dish of cooked cabbage (sauerkraut actually, but made with whole leaves) stuffed with meat and rice and it tastes delicious!
Every Serbian home has their unique sarma recipe, and you can order it in all national restaurants, too. This dish is also easily made vegan.
Sarmas, or slight variations on the basic recipe, can be found all over Central and Eastern Europe. Sarmale is one of the most popular foods in Romania, Ukrainians love their holubtsi, while Hungarians have their own version of sarmas called töltött káposzta.
Serbians prepare for winter by making some delicious canned food and dips and one of the most famous is ajvar.
This condiment, made from roasted red peppers (and sometimes added eggplant) is often served as an appetizer on slices of fresh bread. This is a prefect breakfast treat while in Belgrade.
It can be bought ready-made in every supermarket across the country, or you can try and make it yourself, as it’s really not complicated, but definitely delicious!
Prebranac is a traditional Serbian dish you’ll find served in national restaurants. It’s basically a bean stew, cooked in an oven with a lot of onion.
It is delicious on its own, or can be served as a side-dish. As it’s warming and comforting it is most commonly prepared during the cold winter months.
Kajmak is a clotted dairy cream that’s popular in Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia. It comes either young or matured and has a fat content of at least 60%. It’s super tasty as a spread on a fresh slice of bread.
It’s also used as a condiment – try it melted on a Serbian hamburger (pljeskavica), simmered with meltingly tender beef shank meat (ribić u kajmaku), or stuffed into pita bread with ćevapi sausages. It’s amazing anywhere you want a strong cheese with a touch of sweetness.
Orasnice are traditional horseshoe-shaped walnut cookies. Every Serbian grandmother knows how to make these, and you will most likely be offered some if you visit some more traditional home, as they symbolize abundance and fertility.
These gluten-free delights are sweet and crunchy, and for a cookie, they can be quite filling. They also keep well and will retain their crunch for a week, if they should ever last that long!
These delicious Serbian Christmas cookies filled with jam and covered with powdered sugar are a common delicacy in Serbian homes. They can be easily ordered in restaurants and found in bakeries, too. They are so good they truly melt in your mouth.
11. Fried Carp
Talking about Christmas, if you find yourself in Belgrade for the holiday season, this is a traditional meal that you are very likely to be treated with.
Serbians fast on the Christmas Eve so traditionally meat-based meals are frowned upon, so Serbs like to treat themselves with fried carp. While the fish choice may seem surprising for some, carp is enjoyed in many Central and Eastern European countries, from Germany to Czech Republic and Serbia.
Rakija is a traditional Serbian drink that you simply need to try out. This is a strong drink, and caution is advised. It is prepared by first caramelizing sugar in a pot and pouring rakija on top until it starts to boil. It is served warm, and sometimes cloves are added.
13. Pule Cheese
You may not know, but Serbia is the producer of the world’s most expensive cheese. The cheese is called Pule, it’s primarily made from donkey milk and it’s selling for $600 or more per pound (aprox. half a kilogram).
It’s produced by just one farm in the world, located in the beautiful Zasavica Special Nature Reserve, which is located just one hour drive west from Belgrade. It’s definitely worth the trip, even if you can’t afford this crazy-expensive cheese.
14. Turkish Coffee
Forget about your espresso or cup of cappuccino. This is the coffee that you should be trying out while in Belgrade. Turkish coffee is popular throughout Serbia and there are many great places where you can enjoy a cup. It goes extremely well with something sweet such as Turkish delight.
Gomboce is a delicious traditional dumpling made from potato dough and filled with whole fruits, jam, or chocolate. The dumplings are rolled into a ball and boiled. They are super delicious and well worth a try.
16. Vasina Torta (Vasa’s Cake)
If you want to try a local cake, this one is a great choice and it also comes with a story. This dessert consists of a sticky sponge stuffed with a chocolate and orange filling. Simply delicious!
Hopefully you will get a chance to try some of these specialties. Prijatno!
Have we forgotten any of your favorite Serbian delicacies? Let us know in the comments below and share your recommendations with our community!
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