From a small piece of land, situated in the center of the Balkans, come incredibly tasty traditional dishes that I doubt anyone (Macedonian or foreign) can resist. They are one of the most precious legacies left by our great-great-grandmothers, passed down through the centuries from one generation to the next.
If at some point life brings you to this beautiful land, where the traditional meets the modern, then you must try our delicious classic dishes. Whatever you choose, I assure you, you won’t regret it.
But if you have never been to Macedonia, and you are eager to try our meals, then I am here to help you. This Friday I decided to visit my grandma and to cook something “very” Macedonian with her. I will try to represent everything we cooked in the best possible way. I hope it will encourage you to try “The best from Macedonia”.
Tavce-Gravce is one of our oldest traditional meals. According to Macedonian tradition, this dish is cooked every Friday for lunch, without exception.
Here’s the recipe.
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 green pepper
1 tbsp flour
1-2 tsp red pepper spice (you may use bell pepper ground into a paste)
1-2 tsp each of salt, pepper and mint
1. Rinse the beans a few times. Place them in a pot of water, add the onion, garlic and green pepper, and boil until the beans soften.
2. Now we make the sauce. Heat the oil in a pan. Add one tablespoon of flour and fry it a little. Add a few teaspoons of red pepper spice, stir and fry for a few minutes again. Meanwhile, we briefly drain the beans. Season the beans with the salt, pepper and mint, and add the sauce.
3. The beans are ready for baking. Put them in an oven dishand bake till the liquid evaporates.
Gjomleze originates from the southwestern part of Macedonia. It is a big soft white pie with a crispy crust. It is still prepared in the same way as hundreds of years ago; with a traditional cooking apparatus called a “sach” (сач). We use the sach in this recipe, but it can also be prepared in the oven.
3-4 tablespoons salt
Add the flour to the water and mix it to form a “gruel”. When it is all well mixed, add salt. The traditional way of making Gjomleze entails lighting the fire to heat the sach, and placing the hot ash and coal on top.
As soon as the sach tray is warm, coat it with oil. Then, using a ladle, add a little quantity of the mixture to the tray. After a few minutes, when the first layer is baked, add another layer and coat with oil. Then we place the heated sach on top of the tray and we wait a few minutes again.
Oven instructions: Coat a baking tray or oven dish with oil. With a ladle, pour a little of the mixture in the tray in a thin layer and place in the oven. When the mixture is browned, remove the pan from the oven and coat again with a layer of oil. Then pour another thin layer of the mixture on top and return to the oven.
This layering procedure is repeated as long as there is mixture remaining.
Once all of the mixture has been cooked, we cut the Gjomleze diagonally in both directions to make a lattice effect, and we place it under the sach (or into the oven) again to be baked a little more.
In the end we eatit in one mouthful!
After a day spent cooking with my grandmother, I returned home, curious as to which Macedonian meal my mother was going to surprise me with. She was cooking tasty stuffed peppers with minced meat.
Here’s the recipe for stuffed peppers.
6 green peppers
1 cup boiled rice
Tomato sauce or puree
Salt and pepper
Spice(ideally Vegeta, an Eastern European spice)
1. Chop the onion and the carrot and fry them with the oil. Add the mince and the rice.
2. We add salt, pepper and spice to the frying pan. We then fill the peppers with the fried mixture.
3. When all the peppers are filled, we seal the top with a tomato.
4. Mix the tomato sauce with water. We put the stuffed peppers in an oven dish or tray and pour the sauce/water mixture on top. Then we put the dish in a preheated oven to bake for an hour and a half.