Serbia is a country of rich cuisine and all our visitors are in fact, very happy with our gastronomical offer. We have plenty of traditional Serbian meals and dishes, which we eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Luckily, many restaurants offer real traditional and home-made meals with fresh and local ingredients. So if you do not know what to choose from the menu – let us help you! Today, we will introduce you to five traditional Serbian meals.
Traditional Serbian meals and dishes
Serbian cuisine is authentic but if course, we share some of the dishes with other Balkan countries and Turkey. So if some of those meals sound familiar – do not be surprised. Instead, be welcome to try them in different locations. Let us know how different they are!
Another important feature of our cuisine is that it is based on meat. However, finding vegetarian dishes in Serbia can be a bit difficult, but not impossible. We even include one of them on our list!
Karađorđeva šnicla – Karađorđe’s schnitzel
Karađorđe’s schnitzel is veal or pork steak, stuffed with kajmak, rolled, breaded and fried. Kajmak is a creamy dairy product, similar to cottage cheese. Karađorđe’s schnitzel usually comes with french fries or roasted potatoes and tartar sauce. Of course, you can choose salad or onions with it. Alternatively, Karađorđe’s schnitzel can be also made with chicken meat.
It is actually not a very historical dish. Interestingly, it is a product of a culinary “mistake” and improvisation. In 1959, famous chef Mića Stojanović was supposed to prepare Chicken Kiev for a Russian delegation. But at the last moment, he realized that he doesn’t have the main ingredients. So he improvised – he used the meat he already had, stuffed it with kajmak, rolled it, and fried in bread crumbs. He added the tartar sauce as a final touch and named the dish after Serbian hero Karađorđe.
We are sure that the delegation really enjoyed the meal, as it quickly became a favorite meal of Serbs as well as tourists in our country.
Ćevapi – famous Balkan dish
Ćevapi (or ćevapčići) are perhaps the most famous Balkan dish. They are small sausage-like grilled “rolls” of minced meat. Meat can be beef, lamb, pork, or mixed. Usually, there are between 5 and 10 pieces on a plate, together with bread, vegetables, and kajmak. Even the bread which comes with them is special. This kind of flatbread is called somun. And they usually come with finely sliced garlic.
Ćevapi are also the national dish of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In fact, wherever you go in the Balkans, you will realize that they are available in almost every restaurant. Moreover, and they are also a popular fast-food meal, as they are very simple to make, and simple to enjoy as well!
Fun fact: The name ćevap comes from Turkish kebab. And the suffix -čić indicates diminutive. When we refer to this dish we usually use the plural, hence the -i at the end of the word.
Pljeskavica – Serbian “burger”
Pljeskavica is a patty dish, similar to a burger. It is usually served with garnish, which you usually choose yourself. For example, it can be kajmak, sour cream, mayonnaise, ketchup, or mustard, in combination with tomatoes, pickles, onions, or cabbage. Just like ćevapi, meat can be beef, lamb, pork, or mixed. Pljeskavica has regional variations, and almost every city is proud of its version and even calls it “the real pljeskavica”. Let us tell you the secret – we think that spicy Leskovačka pljeskavica (from the city Leskovac) is the best one!
In a restaurant, pljeskavica is usually on a plate, with garnish and bread on the side. In fast-food places, you usually get pljeskavica with additions, inside the flatbread. That flatbread can be the abovementioned somun, or another type – lepinja. So do not be surprised when the waiter asks you which one would you prefer! Both of them are excellent, so there is no wrong answer to the question “somun or lepinja?”
Sarma – amazing winter meal
The most popular winter meal is definitely sarma. This is a highly caloric type of dish, and it includes cabbage, rolled around a filling of spicy minced meat. Instead of cabbage (which is usually fermented), sometimes we make them in grapevine leaves. The filling can also contain rice or other types of grain, or different seasoning. Every housewife has her recipe for sarma, and we like to joke that it is a family secret. We eat it on special occasions and holidays as well.
Sarma and dolma are also famous Turkish dishes. Of course, Serbian sarma does not just share the same name with the Turkish version, but the taste is similar as well. So we invite you to try our sarma and let us know how do you like it!
Gibanica – one of the vegetarian traditional Serbian meals
Gibanica is is a traditional pastry dish. The main ingredients are thin dough, cottage cheese, and eggs. Alternatively, it can contain meat, potatoes, or spinach. There are different ways to make it. The “sheets” of thin dough can be neatly layered on top of each other, with cheese filling between them. Or, the dough can be soaked in the filling, then crumpled and placed into the baking dish without a specific order. The name gibanica comes from the verb gibati, which means “to fold, sway, swing, rock”.
We usually eat gibanica for breakfast. There is no better way to start the day, than with hot gibanica and a glass of cold yogurt! Of course, we eat is for dinner or snack, or as an appetizer. There is no feast without gibanica!