Croatian food, also known as Balkan food when combined with other cultures has a large variety of flavors and cooking styles. The regions close to the sea utilize a variety of seafood in their menu’s as well as land animals such as chicken, pork, and lamb. If you haven’t been able to travel to Croatia yet and would like to try something different in your home cooking a great addition to your spice rack is Vegeta! You can find it in Walmart and Wegmans as well as a handful of other stores (the complete list can be found here). But be careful! Use too much of the spice and your food will be very salty.
Without further ado, 10 foods to eat in Croatia! Foods marked with * are not common in restaurants as they are more of a home dish but keep a look out for them on menus.
This is a grilled minced meat rolled into sausage shapes. They cam be served a variety with different ways with fries or a homemade bread. The best dips to pair with Cevapi are Ajvar (a vegetable sauce made from peppers and eggplant) and Kajmak (a cream sauce). The typical portion sizes are small (5) medium (7) and large (10). Whenever my sister goes to Croatia she makes it a goal to eat 100 cevapi…seems impossible but she manages it!
The one I order is usually chicken but after doing some research I found some restaurants use pork but I love this as an alternative to Cevapi so I’m not always eating so much pork and beef. The basic ingredients are chicken (sometimes pork) with cheese and a prosciutto type meat rolled together (think similarly to a Cordon Bleu). Rolovan are also very delicious paired with Kajmak or Ajvar.
This dish is one of my all time favorites even in the heat of summer. Cobanac is a meat stew with an incredible amount of flavor and enough ingredients to fill you up with one serving. This can be found at most restaurants that serve a variety of dishes and mixed grill.
Pecenjara is roast pork on a spit. Many families prepare this for holidays or big gatherings but it can also be found in many Balkan restaurants under the roast section.
This is basically a crepe but with a Balkan name! My favorite is with Nutella and sometimes nuts but there are a variety of different spreads (both sweet and savory). My cousin and my best friend like it with sour cream!
Burek (Meat or Cheese)
You can find this meat or cheese filled pastry in any local bakery! They come in either wedge slices or coiled together. I find the cheese filled Burek is a bit lighter than the meat filled Burek. Both are delicious. Burek is a great any time food as it is good for breakfast (if you enjoy savory breakfast), lunch, or dinner.
You can find this delicious bread in any bakery, either short or tall, salty or sweet. Kifli is typically what I grab from the bakery in the morning when I’m heading out for a day of adventures! These thin soft breads are delicious alone but if you want to try something a little different I recommend stopping by a local grocery store and picking up some Argeta to spread on your bread. It might look unappetizing but I’m drooling just thinking about it!
Meat and rice rolled into a sour cabbage roll….sounds strange? This is a STAPLE in Balkan culture. Any wedding or festivity would be incomplete without Sarma! This is a very common dish at home and cultural gatherings. But, I rarely see it on menu’s in tourist areas. If you see this on a menu be brave and try it! The sour cabbage isn’t nearly as bad/strange as it sounds.
Punjena Paprika is a stuffed pepper filled with meat and rice and cooked/served in a tomato sauce. This is the one thing I beg my Grandmother for every time I go to visit. If you see it on a menu and are looking for a home-y dish this is the one for you!
Mixed Meat Platter
If you can’t decide on one thing and want to try a variety of tastes from Croatia this is the thing to get. Planning a trip to Croatia? This would be what I recommend to eat on your first night in town. It’s a great introduction to the different flavors and types of meats common to the region. Typical platters include cevapi, cuts of chicken, pork, and sometime lamb (depends on the region and restaurant). But beware, Mixed Meat Platter’s are made to share and be sure you come hungry – it’s a lot of food!