It is possible to eat very good and cheap in BiH! Bosnian cuisine is similar to Turkish, Greek and other Mediterranean cuisine. But in restaurants, especially in larger cities, it’s possible to get exclusive dishes and drinks like anywhere in the world.
Bosnian ćevapi are a source of great national pride and the country’s favorite dish. These tiny, hand-rolled minced meat sausages are commonly made with ground beef – or a mix of beef mince with other meats such as pork, veal or lamb – seasoned with a mix of different spices; usually garlic, salt, black pepper, and sometimes paprika or hot red pepper flakes. After they have mellowed for a couple of hours, ćevapi are barbecued over charcoal. Traditionally, one portion of the dish consists of ten pieces of ćevapi tucked in a soft, moist, slightly grilled flatbread called lepinja or somun, and a variety of accompaniments such as kajmak, a type of clotted cream spread, roasted red pepper and eggplant relish called ajvar, and raw onions.
This unique variety of ćevapi hails from the city of Sarajevo, hence the name sarajevski ćevapi. There are variable accounts regarding the usage of meat for these tasty meat rolls – purists make them exclusively with ground beef, salt, and pepper, while others use a combination of ground beef and mutton. In recent years, sarajevski ćevapi are typically made only with ground beef and salt in order for the meat flavor to be as clear as possible. Once prepared, ćevapi should be refrigerated for 48 hours.
Although other varieties of ćevapi are made in individual pieces, banjalučki ćevapi differ from all others because they are prepared as a meat tile typically consisting of four ćevapi connected in a row. They are usually made just with ground beef, salt, and pepper, just like sarajevski ćevapi, but ground veal and garlic are sometimes also added to the mix.
Bey’s soup (Begova čorba) is a Bosnian chicken soup that is traditionally served as a warm appetizer. The main ingredients are chicken and okra, which is said to act as an aphrodisiac, but the soup also includes various root vegetables and is thickened with sour cream and eggs. It is typically prepared for national holidays and festive occasions, but it is also a staple of traditional Bosnian restaurants.
Despite its Turkish origins, this dish has evolved into a proud gem of Bosnian national cuisine. Burek consists of layers of phyllo dough stuffed with various savory fillings. Although the locals claim that only burek with ground beef can be called burek, the same dish also appears with other fillings, and these other varieties are known by different names: sirnica (cottage cheese), zeljanica (spinach), and krompiruša (potatoes). Burek is baked rolled into a snail-like shape and this type is typically found in bakeries, while traditional restaurants often make it in the form of a pie, which is sliced into quarters before serving. The dish is wildly popular all across the Balkans, though in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnian pot (bosanski lonac) is a traditional, flavorful stew consisting of layers of large and chunky pieces of meat and vegetables that are covered with water and slowly simmered in a big pot. Due to the size of the meat (usually lamb, veal and beef) and the vegetables (cabbage, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes), it takes about four hours or more to properly cook the dish. Spices and seasonings should be kept to a minimum to let the meat and vegetables flavor the dish with their own juices and aromas. The traditional clay pot (lonac) that the stew is cooked in is such an important part of the dish that the whole dish is named after it. The pot was created in the Middle Ages by coal miners, and since Bosnia has long been a mining country, the miners were forced to prepare their own dishes, so while working, they would leave the stew to simmer until their lunch break.
Though its name stems from the Turkish soğan dolması, which translates as stuffed onions, this dish is a part of traditional Bosnian cuisine. It consists of onion bulbs that are blanched and stuffed with a flavorful combination of minced meat, various spices, and (optionally) onions and grated carrots. When stuffed, the bulbs are layered and slowly cooked in the oven, usually in a small amount of water. The final addition is a layer of sour cream or a combination of flour and paprika, typically generously smeared on top. Sogan-dolma is a Bosnian classic, enjoyed throughout the country, although it is typically associated with the southern regions.
Though it probably derives its origin from Turkish and Levantine cuisine, traditional Herzegovinian japrak is an authentic dish consisting of a minced meat filling that is wrapped in blanched leaves of raštika, a local variety of leaf cabbage. The filling is usually prepared with minced beef or veal that is combined with rice, salt, and pepper. These small-sized stuffed leaves are slowly cooked for hours, occasionally alongside smoked meat. Apart from the traditional version, some varieties replace cabbage with vine leaves, add tomatoes, or season it with mint.
Klepe are Bosnian meat-filled dumplings that are often said to be similar to ravioli. The dough is made with flour, eggs, and salt, while the filling consists of ground meat and onions seasoned with salt and pepper. These dumplings are first boiled, lightly sautéed in a pan, then baked in the oven with sour cream, garlic, and sweet paprika powder. Klepe should be served hot, and nowadays there are many variations on this dish, so the filling can also be made with cheese, spinach, or chicken.
Suho meso (Smoked beef)
Suho meso is a Bosnian specialty made by salting, drying, and smoking beef over oak fire. The meat should not be too dry, and it takes a special set of skills and knowledge to make the dish properly. Since it takes special expertise to prepare suho meso, the methods are typically passed down from one generation to another. The meat is traditionally seasoned with garlic or pepper.
Tufahija is a dessert made from apples which are stewed in water and sugar, stuffed with an almond or walnut cream filling, then shortly baked and doused in sugar syrup. The origin of the dessert is Persian – it came to Bosnia with the Ottomans who ruled the country in the past. This refreshing treat is traditionally consumed chilled, served in a large glass, and garnished with whipped cream and a cherry on top.
This Bosnian dessert couples shredded kadayıf dough and a rich nut filling, which usually consists of chopped walnuts. Though there are rolled varieties, kadaif is typically layered, with the nut filling placed between the two layers of butter-coated kadayıf threads. When baked, the dessert is doused in a thick lemon-flavored syrup that is occasionally enriched with cinnamon or cloves. Kadaif has its origins in Turkish culinary tradition, but it has been recognized as a signature Bosnian dessert.
Hurmašica is a Bosnian treat prepared by dousing the pastry dough consisting of butter, eggs, sugar, and flour in lemon-flavored sugar syrup. Just like many other Bosnian dishes, this dessert also came from Turkey, where its relative is the almost identical kalburabastı. The distinctive top design of the cookie is achieved by pressing the pastry dough on a grater, while the ingredients can be modified to include desiccated coconut or walnuts. This sweet treat is baked throughout the year, although it is traditionally prepared for important religious holidays.
Ružice is a Bosnian baklava variety made with yufka sheets that are filled with ground walnuts, melted butter, and raisins, if desired. The concoction is rolled, then cut into smaller pieces which are subsequently placed in the baking dish so that they resemble roses or rosebuds. After ružice have been baked, they are doused in syrup consisting of water, sugar, and lemon juice. Due to the sweetness of this dessert, it is recommended to serve it with a cup of strong black coffee on the side.
Sutlijaš is a popular Bosnian treat consisting of only three main ingredients: rice, milk, and sugar cooked together in the same pot. This flavorful rice pudding is very similar to the Turkish sütlaç, which has been brought to Bosnia during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The sweet dish can be consumed warm or cold, and it is recommended to sprinkle it with cinnamon, vanilla, or grated chocolate.