When you think of countries synonymous with fine food, North Macedonia might not spring to mind. But don’t think that means its cuisine isn’t up to snuff. In truth, the heart of the Balkan Peninsula is home to numerous hidden gems, from succulent stews to rustic recipes hundreds of years in the making. Take a gander at these seven Macedonian dishes, and you’ll wonder how you hadn’t heard of them sooner.
Here is some Macedonian food you have to try before you die
Ajvar is a sweet relish beloved throughout the Balkans. As a baseline, the dish calls for four ingredients: peppers, eggplant, oil, and salt. To begin, the vegetables are roasted, peeled, and seeded. After they’ve been mashed up or diced fine, the ensuing mush is stewed to a jam-like consistency. Oil and salt are added during the stewing process, to aid in preservation and flavor the spread. For some extra kick, feel free to toss in a few chili peppers, too.
Making authentic gjomleze is a painstaking process, but well worth the effort. It begins with a special cooking apparatus, called a “sach,” placed over live coals. Oil is added to prevent sticking, followed by a layer of simple batter – literally flour, water, and salt. When the batter is crisp, it is brushed with more oil, then covered with more batter. Roughly twenty layers later, the gjomleze is covered and baked brown. In the end, you’ll have a salty treat, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
If you’re a fan of flatbread pizza, pastrmalija is right up your alley. This Macedonian bread pie derives its name from “pastrma” – dried and salted sheep or lamb meat, which was traditionally used to top it. Nowadays, cubes of pork or diced chicken are more commonplace proteins. Other toppings can include cheese, mushrooms, whole eggs, and pure pork fat. Additionally, hot pickled peppers are often served atop or alongside pastrmalija, particularly during cold weather.
This hearty stew is a meat-eater’s dream. Selsko meso is built on a trio of proteins: pork, ground beef, and smoked meat. As for vegetables, sautéed mushrooms and onions are essentials. Tomatoes are a traditional addition as well as hot peppers. Otherwise, feel free to use whatever veggies are kicking around your kitchen. Just be sure to use a clay pot, and simmer the stew until every component is impossibly tender, for the true selsko meso experience.
There is no definitive recipe for turli tava; the contents of this casserole are up to the one preparing it. Potatoes, eggplant, and okra are popular inclusions, but not strictly necessary. If you’d prefer green beans and bell peppers, go for it. Or, if you’re a carnivore at heart, feel free to throw in some lamb or beef. However you slice it, turli tava makes a great entrée, especially with sides of rice and yogurt.
A list of Macedonian delicacies wouldn’t be complete without its national dish. Tavče gravče consists of butter beans, onion, and bell pepper, baked and served in an earthenware pot. Some recipes call for the addition of cured or dried meat, such as bacon or suho meso, as well. Preparation is an intensive process, including heating the beans to remove indigestible sugars, as well as boiling and sautéing the onion whole. Between its rustic charm and the passion cooks put into it, though, the appeal of tavče gravče is clear as day.