Balkan cuisine

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Widely used in the Balkan cuisine in different varieties: Burek
Ćevapčići with bread, ajvar and onions

Balkan cuisine is a commonly used generic term for various national kitchens that geographically belong to the Balkans . These include the Bulgarian cuisine , the Romanian cuisine , the regional cuisine of the former Yugoslavia , the Albanian , the Greek and the Turkish cuisine . The cuisine of the Balkan countries was shaped from the 14th to the 19th century by the culture of the Ottoman Empire and the corresponding cuisine, so that a relatively homogeneous regional cuisine emerged. The further east you go in this region, the more you can see the influence of oriental cuisine . Likewise, the transition to Hungarian cuisine is not very clearly delineated in the associated gastronomy .


The Balkan countries are not climatically a unit, but are divided into a Mediterranean region , a continental plain and a mountain region. In the Mediterranean, the cuisine contains many elements of the so-called Mediterranean cuisine . In the hinterland of the Mediterranean region, agriculture and animal husbandry play a major role. Sheep, goats and poultry are widespread, while cattle and pigs are not kept as common. The most common cereals are wheat and maize , and sometimes rice ; The cultivation of sesame and poppy seeds is also important . The continental plain north of the Balkan Mountains is heavily agricultural. Several types of grain are grown here, including buckwheat . Sheep farming is widespread in the Dinaric Alps .

The typical dishes of this cuisine, known in all the countries belonging to it, include moussaka , köfte , burek , baklava , sarma and sour soups. The meat is often grilled or roasted on a spit, but bread and grains form the basis of the diet. Traditionally, the cuisine of the countries of the Balkans and Eastern Europe is based far more on grain than the cuisines in Central and Western Europe, which have a higher proportion of meat. Common vegetables are legumes , cabbage , root vegetables, zucchini , peppers, tomatoes and eggplants . In the dairy products dominate yogurt and feta .

In rural areas in particular, goose and chicken are often cooked with lard and rendered fat . In the Mediterranean area, herbs are also used generously. Typical for the Balkan cuisine are onions , garlic , capers , parsley and paprika. There are various kinds of sweet peppers , but also hot chillies . The pods are used as salads, vegetables, antipasti pickled in oil or vinegar or stuffed with rice and meat and are also mixed in as spice powder.

All sorts of fruits and dried fruits are used for pastries . Almonds , nuts , figs, and raisins are popular ingredients. The biscuit pieces are often soaked in rose , orange blossom or honey .

Role in gastronomy

In the 1950s, the so-called Balkan grill restaurants became one of the most successful types of restaurants in Germany. These mediated between the well-known Viennese and the Turkish cuisine, which at that time was still perceived as exotic. At the time of the feeding wave, they offered a   comparatively cheap and meat-heavy menu.


  • Alan Davidson: The Oxford Companion to Food , 2nd. ed. Oxford 2006, article Balkan food and cookery , p. 53 f.
  • Article Balkan Countries in the Encyclopedia of Food and Drink

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Maren Möhring: Foreign food: The history of foreign gastronomy in the Federal Republic of Germany . Walter de Gruyter, 2012, ISBN 978-3-486-71779-2 , p. 322 ( [accessed on January 6, 2017] with reference, inter alia, to Christine Bradatan (2003), Cuisine and cultural identity in the Balkans).
  2. ^ Maren Möhring: Foreign food: The history of foreign gastronomy in the Federal Republic of Germany . Walter de Gruyter, 2012, ISBN 978-3-486-71779-2 , p. 328 ( [accessed on January 6, 2017]).