Bulgarian cuisine

Bulgarian cuisine
Tarator is a cold soup made of yoghurt and cucumber (dill, garlic, walnuts and sunflower oil are sometimes added) and is popular in Bulgaria.
Bulgarian Kebab with Rice.
Bulgarian Christmas Eve table

Bulgarian cuisine (Bulgarian: българска кухня, bulgarska kuhnya) is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe. Essentially South Slavic, it shares characteristics with other Balkans cuisines. Owing to the relatively warm climate and diverse geography affording excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits, Bulgarian cuisine is diverse.

Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy products and the variety of Bulgarian wines and local alcoholic drinks such as rakia, mastika and menta. Bulgarian cuisine features also a variety of hot and cold soups, an example of a cold soup being tarator. There are many different Bulgarian pastries as well such as banitsa.

Most Bulgarian dishes are oven baked, steamed, or in the form of stew. Deep-frying is not very typical, but grilling - especially different kinds of meats - is very common. Pork meat is the most common meat in the Bulgarian cuisine. Oriental dishes do exist in Bulgarian cuisine with most common being moussaka, gyuvetch, and baklava. A very popular ingredient in Bulgarian cuisine is the Bulgarian white brine cheese called "sirene" (сирене). It is the main ingredient in many salads, as well as in a variety of pastries. Fish and chicken are widely eaten and while beef is less common as most cattle are bred for milk production rather than meat, veal is a natural byproduct of this process and it is found in many popular recipes. Bulgaria is a net exporter of lamb and its own consumption of the meat is prevalent during its production time in spring.[1]

Traditionally Bulgarians have consumed a notable quantity of yoghurt per head and is noted historically for the production of high quality yoghurt, including using a unique variety of micro-organism called Lactobacillus bulgaricus in the manufacturing process.[2] It has even been claimed that yoghurt originates from Bulgaria. Though this cannot be substantiated, Bulgaria has been part of a region that has cultivated and consumed yoghurt from as far back as 3000 BC.[3]

Certain entries, salads, soups and dishes go well with alcoholic beverages and the alcohol of choice for some is Bulgarian wine.


Holiday meals

There are several holidays that are characterized by specific meals. On Christmas Eve, it is a tradition to have vegetarian stuffed peppers and vegetarian stuffed vine leaves. On New Year's Eve, there are dishes made with cabbage. On Nikulden (Nicholay's Day; December 6), people usually cook fish, while on Gergyovden (George’s Day; May 6), it is a tradition to eat roast lamb.

Traditional Bulgarian foods

Telesko vareno
Soup Topcheta (left) and Shkembe chorba (right)
Green salad (left) and Shopska salad (right)
Stuffed peppers

Cold cuts


Salads and relishes

  • Shopska salad
  • Snow White Salad or Milk salad
  • Milk salad with baked peppers
  • Ovcharska Salad
  • Easter Salad (Traditional Easter salad with sliced boiled eggs, with dressing - oil and vinegar, and topped with Sharena sol.)
  • Salad with Carrots and Cabbage
  • Beans Salad
  • Turshiya
  • Kyopolou
  • Potato Salad
  • Green Salad (Lettuce,Green Onion,Radish,Cucumber,Salt,Oil and Vinegar.)
  • Green Salad with yogurt
  • Salad with Sliced Peppers,Garlic,Oil and Vinegar
  • Salad of mussels
  • Salad of fish and onions (Traditional from Pomorie.)
  • Chiroz (Bulgarian Stockfish.)

Sauces and appetizers

  • Ljutenica (Spicy Sauce)
  • Ljutika
  • Apetitka
  • Kyopolou
  • Podluchen sauce or Yogurt Sauce (Yogurt with garlic, oil, paprika, salt sometimes dill.)
  • Katak
  • Razyadka
  • Thracian walnut appetizer

Hot appetizers

  • Katino meze (Hot starter with chopped pork meat, onion, mushrooms with fresh butter and spices.)
  • Drob po selski (Chopped Liver with onion, or only with butter.)
  • Ezik v maslo (Sliced tongue in butter.)
  • Sirene pane (Breaded Bulgarian White cheese bites.)
  • Kashkaval pane (Breaded Kashkaval bites.)
  • Mussels in butter (With onion and fresh herbs, from Sozopol, popular at the seaside.)


  • Kyufte (Meatballs - Minced meat, with special traditional spices, shaped as a ball.)
  • Kebabche (Like meatballs, but with different spices and shaped as bars.)
  • Parjola (Pork Steaks in traditional style.)
  • Shishcheta (Arranged on a skewer marinated pieces of chicken or/and pork and vegetables.)
  • Karnache (Kind of sausage with special spices.)
  • Nadenitsa (Kind of sausage with special spices.)
  • Tatarsko kyufte (Stuffed meatballs.)
  • Nevrozno kyufte (Very piquant meatballs.)
  • Chicken in caul
  • Cheverme (One of the best Bulgarian grilled dish. The tradition that Bulgarian chefs respect requires that speciality to be prepared by slowly rotating under a gentle embers for 4 to 7 hours. This is the reason why, if you want to try this delicacy is necessary to give order to the restaurant at least one day earlier.)
  • Meshana skara (Mixed grill.)
  • Grilled Vegetables (Usually prepared for garnish.)
  • Grilled Fish (Various traditional recipes for grilling sea or river fish.)

Main dishes

Skara, Tatarsko kyufte.
Cheverme from Rhodopes.
Kavarma topped with egg, served with bread and Ayran.
Chicken Yahni.

  • Gyuvech
  • Yahniya
  • Plakiya
  • Sarma
  • Drob Sarma
  • Wine or Tass kebab
  • Kavarma
  • Kapama
  • Mish Mash
  • Pilaf (Rice with chopped meat, vegetables or mussels.)
  • Chomlek
  • Mlin
  • Stuffed courgettes
  • Stuffed peppers
  • Peppers börek
  • Roasted beans
  • Bean with sausage
  • Pork with rice
  • Roasted Chicken with Potatoes
  • Pork with Cabbage
  • Chicken with Cabbage
  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Wine, Tepsi or Tass Kebab
  • Drusan kebab
  • Rice with Chicken
  • Tatarian Meatball
  • Meatball with Sauce
  • Kjufteta po Chirpanski (Meatballs with potatoes, recipe from Chirpan.)
  • Meatloaf (called 'Rulo "Stefani"')
  • Potato balls with Sauce
  • Panagyurishte-Style Eggs
  • Fried Courgettes with Yogurt Souce
  • Chicken in katmi (Popular in Thracian style)
  • Fish Zelnik (No pastry dish with Sauerkraut and Rice.)
  • Fish in pastry (Usually prepared from carp to St. Nicholas fast.)
  • Stuffed Carp or Nikuldenski Carp (Prepared in all Bulgarian families to St. Nicholas fast.)

Breads and pastries

Bulgarian traditional bread pogacha
A pile of mekitsi with jam. Mekitsi is a traditional Bulgarian dish made of kneaded dough made with yoghurt that is deep fried.
  • Pita
  • Sweet Pita
  • Pita with Meat ( Or/and with Mushrooms or with Tomatoes and Onion.)
  • Pogacha (Usual ritual bread.)
  • Kravai (Usual ritual bread.)
  • Kolak (Usual ritual bread.)
  • Banitsa (The most popular pastry in Bulgaria with countless varieties.)
  • Tikvenik
  • Zelnik
  • Baklava
  • Saraliya
  • Parlenki
  • Patatnik
  • Kachamak
  • Byal Maj
  • Tutmanik
  • Milinka
  • Gevrek
  • Kozunak
  • Mekitsa
  • Marudnitsi
  • Katmi (Kind of Pancakes.)
  • Palachinki (Kind of Pancakes.)
  • Langidi
  • Tiganitsi
  • Dudnik
  • Popara
  • Sulovar
  • Parjeni filii
  • Kiflichki with jam or white cheese
  • Solenki
  • Yufka
  • Trienitsa or Skrob
  • Trahana

Cheeses and other dairy products

Vacuum packed Kashkaval cheese in Bulgarian store.

Bulgaria as a homeland of yogurt has a strong tradition in the making of a variety of dairy products.

  • Sirene
  • Kashkaval
  • Kiselo mlyako (Traditional Bulgarian Yogurt witch is produced using a culture of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus bacteria.)
  • Pryasno Sirene (Fresh cheese.)
  • Sirene "Dunavia"
  • Tsedeno mlyako (Dried yogurt.)
  • Izvara
  • Catak
  • Zira


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

Halva is a popular dessert in Bulgaria, and the term 'halva' (халва) is used for several varieties of the dessert. Tahini halva (тахан халва) is most popular and can be found in all food stores. Two different types of tahini halva are made - one using sunflower seed tahini and another using sesame seed tahini. Traditionally, the regions of Yablanitsa and Haskovo are famous for their halva.

  • Baked pumpkin with walnuts and honey
  • Baklava
  • Buhti with yogurt
  • Cookies "Peach" or Praskovki
  • Fruit bread
  • Garash cake ("Torta Garesh")
  • Katmi with jam or honey or/and cheese (Nowadays usually and with chocolate.)
  • Kazanlak Donuts
  • Kompot
  • Kozunak
  • Kurabiiki
  • Lokum
  • Maslenki
  • Milk with Rice
  • Oshav
  • Tart with cherries or sour cherries (Typical for the region of Bobovdol.)
  • Tart with different fruits
  • Tatlii
  • Tikvenik
  • Tulumbichki

Spices and herbs

Other staples

Traditional Bulgarian drinks

Mavrud wine on the shelves in a supermarket in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. This particular wine is from Perushtitsa.
A bottle of Bulgarian beer in a traditional restaurant
Pelinkovac is a bitter liqueur based on wormwood


Distilled liquors


  • Beer
  • Almus
  • Ariana
  • Astika
  • Boliarka
  • Burgasko
  • Kamenitza
  • Ledenika
  • MM
  • Pirinsko
  • Plevensko
  • Shumensko
  • Slavena
  • Stolichno
  • Zagorka

Fermented beverages

  • Boza (Most popular recipes are from Radomir and Lyubimets.)
  • Ayran or Ayryan
  • Matenitsa (Bulgarian Buttermilk.)
  • Etar
  • Pitie (Drinks prepared from different squeezed fruit or herbs, whose juice is usually kept for several days to a month before consumption.)

Hot beverages

  • Chay (Tea usually prepared with one or several herbs and/or fruits.)
  • Greyana Rakiya (Mulled Rakiya - A winter alcoholic beverage.)
  • Greyano Vino (Kind of mulled wine - A winter alcoholic beverage.)

See also


External links

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