Bulgarian cuisine

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Tarator is a cold soup made of yogurt, water, minced cucumber, dill, garlic, and sunflower or olive oil (Chips are also sometimes added).
Traditional Bulgarian Christmas Eve dish Sarmi

Bulgarian cuisine (Bulgarian: българска кухня, bylgarska kuhnja) is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe. Essentially South Slavic, it shares characteristics with other Balkans cuisines. Bulgarian cooking traditions are diverse because of geographical factors such as climatic conditions suitable for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit. Aside from the vast variety of local Bulgarian dishes, Bulgarian cuisine shares a number of dishes with the Russian, Italian, Greek cuisine and even Middle Eastern cuisines.

Bulgarian food often incorporates salads as appetizers and is also noted for the prominence of dairy products, wines and other alcoholic drinks such as rakia. The cuisine also features a variety of soups, such as the cold soup tarator, and pastries, such as the filo dough based banitsa, pita and the various types of börek.

Main courses are very typically water-based stews, either vegetarian or with lamb, goat meat, veal, chicken or pork. Deep-frying is not common, but grilling - especially different kinds of sausages - is very prominent. Pork is common, often mixed with veal or lamb, although fish and chicken are also widely used. While most cattle are bred for milk production rather than meat, veal is popular for grilling meats appetizers (meze) and in some main courses. As a substantial exporter of lamb, Bulgaria's own consumption is notable, especially in the spring.[1]

Similarly to other Balkan cultures the per capita consumption of yogurt (Bulgarian: кисело мляко, kiselo mlyako, lit. "sour milk") among Bulgarians is traditionally higher than the rest of Europe. The country is notable as the historical namesake for Lactobacillus bulgaricus, a microorganism chiefly responsible for the local variety of the dairy product.[2]

Bulgarian cuisine shares a number of dishes with the Middle Eastern Cuisine as well as a limited number with the Indian, particularly Gujarat cuisine. The culinary exchange with the East started as early as the 7th century, when traders started bringing herbs and spices to the First Bulgarian Empire from India and Persia via the Roman and later Byzantine empires.[3] This is evident from the wide popularity of dishes like moussaka, gyuvetch, kyufte and baklava, which are common in Middle Eastern cuisine today. White brine cheese called "sirene" (сирене), similar to feta, is also a popular ingredient used in salads and a variety of pastries.

Holidays are often observed in conjecture with certain meals. On Christmas Eve, for instance, tradition requires vegetarian stuffed peppers and cabbage leaf sarmi, New Year's Eve usually involves cabbage dishes, Nikulden (Day of St. Nicholas, December 6) fish (usually carp), while Gergyovden (Day of St. George, May 6) is typically celebrated with roast lamb.

Turkish influence

As in many areas of the Balkans that were formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, food in Bulgaria is influenced by the Turkishayran, baklava, gyuvech, and moussaka are all of Ottoman derivation.[4]

Traditional Bulgarian foods

Traditional Bulgarian cold cut - Lukanka
Traditional Bulgarian soup Teleshko vareno
Soup Topcheta (left) and Shkembe chorba (right)
Green salad (left) and Shopska salad(right)
Stuffed peppers


Cold cuts

Soups and stews


Sauces, relishes, and appetizers

Lyutenica is a traditional Bulgarian sauce made from tomatoes and peppers

Skara (grill)


Main dishes

Traditional Bulgarian grill (Skara)- Tatarsko kufte
Cheverme grill from the Rhodopes.

Bulgarian Kavarma (left) and Yahniya (right)

Breads and pastries

Traditional Bulgarian pogacha (left) and a pile of mekitsi with jam (right)

Dairy products

Vacuum packed Kashkaval cheese in Bulgarian store.

Bulgaria has a strong tradition of using milk and dairy products.[34]


The name Halva (халва) is used for several related varieties of the Middle Eastern dessert. Tahan/Tahini halva (тахан/тахини халва) is the most popular version, available in two different types with sunflower and with sesame seed. Traditionally, the regions of Yablanitsa and Haskovo are famous manufacturers of halva.

Baked pumpkin with walnuts.
A tahini-based halva with pistachios
Kozunak as prepared in Bulgaria for orthodox Easter

Spices and herbs

Other staples

Traditional Bulgarian drinks

Perushtitsa Mavrud wine
A bottle of Zagorka in a traditional mehana
Pelin is a bitter liqueur based on wormwood


Main article: Bulgarian wine

Distilled liquors


Fermented beverages

Hot beverages

  • Tea (Usually prepared with one or several herbs or fruits)
  • Greyana Rakiya (boiled rakiya; winter alcoholic beverage)
  • Greyano Vino (winter alcoholic beverage)

See also


  1. (April 2006). "Bulgaria Poultry and Products Meat Market Update." Thepoultrysite.com. Accessed July 2011.
  2. http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20110822/food-drink/Bulgarians-celebrate-the-art-of-true-homemade-yoghurt.381345
  3. Zlatarski - Българската кухня през вековете p 78-79
  4. Deutsch, p. 87.
  5. Deutsch, p. 88.
  6. Bousfield & Willis, p. 232.
  7. Sachsenroeder, p. 138.
  8. Bousfield & Willis, p. 232.
  9. Deutsch, p. 88.
  10. Bousfield & Richardson, p. 40.
  11. Robert Sietsema, New York in a Dozen Dishes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015), p. 112.
  12. Jonathan Bousfield & Dan Richardson, A Rough Guide to Bulgaria (Rough Guides, 2002), p. 40.
  13. Nichola Fletcher, Sausage: A Country-By-Country Photographic Guide With Recipes (DK: 2012), p. 217.
  14. Deutsch, p. 87.
  15. Kay, p. 57.
  16. Deutsch, p. 88.
  17. Sachsenroeder, p. 144; Deutsch, p. 88.
  18. Kay, p. 57; Ross, p. 70.
  19. Kay, p. 57; Ross, p. 67; Kelsey Kinser, Vegan Beans from Around the World: 100 Adventurous Recipes for the Most Delicious, Nutritious, and Flavorful Bean Dishes Ever (Ulysses Press, 2014), p. 29.
  20. Ross, p. 67.
  21. Ross, p. 67.
  22. Ross, p. 67.
  23. Ross, p. 67.
  24. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Bulgaria, p. 233.
  25. Sachsenroeder, p. 143.
  26. Sachsenroeder, p. 143.
  27. Deutsch, p. 88; Sachsenroeder, p. 143.
  28. Sachsenroeder, p. 143; Kay, pp. 56-57; Richard Watkins & Christopher Deliso, Bulgaria (Lonely Planet, 2008), p. 55.
  29. Ross, p. 63; Kay, p. 57.
  30. Deutsch, p. 88.
  31. Kay, p. 57, Sachsenroeder, p. 143; DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Bulgaria (DK: rev. ed. 2011), p. 233
  32. Bulgarian Food: The Ultimate Guide
  33. Deutsch, p. 88.
  34. Deutsch, p. 87.
  35. Deutsch, p. 87; Bousfield & Willis, p. 232.
  36. Bousfield & Willis, p. 232.
  37. Bousfield & Richardson, p. 40.
  38. Lay, p. 57.
  39. Tropcheva et al., Antifungal activity and identification of Lactobacilli, isolated from traditional dairy product "katak", Anaerobe (2014), doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2014.05.010.


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