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Bulgarian cuisine
03.11.2008   bulgarien.dk
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BULGARIAN CUISINE

Bulgaria is a relatively old state. It was founded in 7th century a.d.
From that time until the 18th century Bulgarian people used to eat the usual for Europeans food: meats, fish, bread, raw fruits and vegetables.
By the end of the 18th and especially in the 19th century Bulgarian people developed their specific cuisine. Basic ingredients in the Bulgarian kitchen are:
1. Meats: pork, beef, lamb, chicken, fish.
2. Dairy products: the main type of milk Bulgarians eat is plain yogurt.
They prepare it generally from cow milk, but you can get yogurt made
from sheep milk or buffalo-cow milk, which are much more tasty than cow yogurt.
Almost everyone in Bulgaria eats yogurt every day - from age of 3 months until his/her death. There are two main kinds of cheese: feta (white cheese) and yellow cheese. Feta is two types: cow feta and sheep feta. Bulgarians prefer to use cow feta in cooking and to eat sheep feta. Yellow cheese is used as in the U.S. You can buy original Bulgarian feta in Mediterranean stores in the U.S.
3. Rice, corn, beans, lentils.
4. Vegetables: potatos, cabbage(green and red), carrots, tomatos, green peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, garlic, zucchini, pumpkin, onions (yellow and green), peas, celery, spinach, cauliflower, lima beans, lettuce, radishes, turnip, gumbo, mushrooms, olives.
5. Fruits: cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries,
apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, watermelons, melons, grapes, quinces, medlars.
6. Nuts: peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chestnuts.
7. Spices: parsley, mint, savory, paprika.
8. Herbs: many different, from thyme to milfoil. They are used in cooking and for herb teas.
All these basic ingredients are grown in Bulgaria.
By the end of the last century Bulgaria extended its economic connections with Middle and West European countries. This way, little by little, people in Bulgaria started to use some common European foods like pasta, mayonnaise, cream, and also some fruits and vegetables which are not grown in the country.
Today the Bulgarian cuisine is a mixture of typical Bulgarian courses and common for all world foods.
In the restaurants you may purchase steaks, chops, hamburgers usually roasted, broiled or barbequed with garnish from potatos, beans, salad and Bulgarian type of salsa called luttennitza. In the largest cities of the country there are special restaurants for fried chicken, fish, pizza, spaghetti. In the capital Sofia you can taste in a special restaurants German, Russian, Italian, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese food. Traveling in the countryside you can always
buy near the road 'kebbabchetta' and 'kyuftetta' - Bulgarian barbequed hamburgers with oblong or round shape.
Home cooking is more varying and depends on many factors, but the most important one is the family cooking tradition. Although Bulgaria is a small country, there is a difference in cooking traditions between its North and South parts.
A distinctive feature of Bulgarian home cooking is that you start with the cooking of the meat and gradually adding all other ingredients. At the end of the cooking you have completely finished the course in one sausepan. This method saves time, especially if you work from scratch.
Example:

MEAT WITH POTATOS

Meat (pork, beef or chicken) - 1 1/2 lb.
1 yellow onion
1 carrot
1 stick selery
1 Italian pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
5 potatos
1 can (6-8 oz.) tomato sause
2 tbsp. parsley
2 cups hot water
1/4 cup vegetable oil (optionally)

If you'd like to try, follow the steps:

1. Cut the meat into 2" pieces. Put in the sausepan with the salt, cover and cook on the top of the range at medium heat, stiring ocasionally. At this point you can add the oil.

2. Meanwhile, peel onion and carrot and chop them finely. Add to meat and stir. Slice selery and green pepper, add and stir. In 5 min. add paprika, stir, add water.

3. Cover and cook 1/2 hour. Meanwile peel potatos and cut them into cubes. Add to meat, cook 15 min.

4. Add tomato sause, cook 5 min. Add parsley. Swich off the oven, let stay on it for 10 min. Serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

Note. If you cook chicken, reduce cooking time in step 3 to 10 min. instead of 1/2 hour.

Although slow cooking was very appreciated in the old Bulgarian kitchen, today many Bulgarian women prefer quick dishes.

Some easy typical Bulgarian recipies:

GREEN SALAD

1/2 head lettuce (your favorite type), finely chopped
1 cucumber, cut into two longwise and sliced
2 large tomatos, cut into two and sliced
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 stick selery, sliced
1/2 bunch of each: parsley, dill and mint, finely chopped
Salad dressing, made from 4 tbsp vegetable or olive oil, 4 tbsp lemon juice and
1/2 tsp salt.

Put all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.


COLD YOGURT SOUP (TARRATTOR)

1 lb. plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 peeled and finelly choped cucumber
2 cloves garlic, pound up
4 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh dill
1/2 finelly chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large bowl mix yogurt and water untill smooth. Add all other ingredients, stir well. Serve. Makes 6-8 servings. In hot summer days you can add  1 cube ice in each serving bowl.

LUTTENNITZA
(Garnish for broiled of barbequed meats)

1 can (8 oz.) Contadina tomato paste
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pound up.

In a medium size bowl mix well all ingredients. Serve. Makes 4-6 servings.  

EGGPLANT DIP

1 eggplant, baked, peeled and cut into cubes
1/2 cup tomato paste
6 italian peppers, baked, peeled, seedless, cut
1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bunch parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped

Put all ingredients in the blender. Mix at high for 2 min. Serve.

LAMB WITH GREEN ONIONS

2 lb. lamb, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
5 bunches of green onions, cut into 1" pieces
2 cups hot water, divided
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp butter (optionally)

Put lamb in wide, but not deep sausepan. Add 1/2 cup hot water and if desired, butter, cover. Put on the top of range at medium heat for 2 hours. In 1/2 hour add onions, salt, paprika, black pepper and 1/2 cup hot water, stir. Cook for another 1/2 hour, add 1/2 cup hot water, stir. Repeat the latter in 1/2 hour, using the last 1/2 cup hot water. Cover and cook for 1/2 hour. Switch off the range, let stay for 15 min. Serve warm.

BANNITZA
In old times and now every Bulgarian family eats BANITZA on holidays as a dessert. In the BANITZA, prepared for Christmas, one puts wishes for happy, healty, and successful year.

12 fillo sheets (leaves)
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
5 eggs, divided
1 stick butter or margarine or 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 stick margarine
  melted
1 1/2 cup Seltzer soda (or other type, but colorless)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (optionally)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease 9X13X1 1/2" pan. In a small bowl put 4 eggs and feta cheese, mix well. Put the first fillo sheet on the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with one tbsp melted butter, repeat with 3 more sheets. On the 4th sheet put 1/2 of the egg-cheese mixture, spread it on the sheet. Order the same way the next 4 sheets, put the other half of the egg-cheese mixture, cover with the last 4 fillo sheets.
Cut the BANNITZA into squares with sharp knife. Pour the rest of the butter on the cuttings. Combine egg and soda, mix well and pour on the top of the BANNITZA. Bake 20-25 min. or until golden-brown. Take out of the oven, sprinkle with cold water, cover with paper towel and kitchen fabric towel, and let stay for 10 min. Serve hot. If desired, before serving sift with granulated sugar. Makes 12 servings.
 
Serve for breakfast with plain yogurt.

Note. When working with fillo leaves, follow strictly instructions outside the box.

Bulgarian people prepare many vegetarian foods, different pancakes, salads, etc.

Hope you enjoy reading/eating.

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