Bosnian cuisine is an interesting fusion of traditions in and of itself.
Traditional Bosnian food consists of diverse dishes represent both a fusion of western and eastern European cultures and historical influences from the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires.
An exploration of Bosnian cuisine is a lesson in history and a delicious one at that.
You may recognize many of the most popular Bosnian foods as a part of the Mediterranean cornucopia. Other dishes are unique to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Read on to discover an eclectic list of the most popular Bosnian food.
Cevapi is one of the national dishes of Bosnia and a favorite of the surrounding Balkan nations.
This traditional Bosnian food is a plate of grilled minced meat with a shape and texture similar to kebab meat. Depending on the region and ethnic variation, Cevapi has a base of either beef, lamb, mutton, veal, or pork.
Cevapi comes with either 5 or 10 slices of meat per plate, usually accompanied by flatbread, sour cream sauce, relish, and onions.
The minced meat has a variable texture with a nice balance of fat and lean meat.
I enjoy making wraps with cevapi, rolling each succulent slice of meat in the flatbread with a slather of sour cream, relish, and chopped onions.
Every culture has its one-pot comfort stew, and for Bosnians that dish is called Bosanski Lonac.
You’ll hear it in English in its direct translation, “Bosnian Pot.” Its status as a popular Bosnian food rivals its national dish.
It is a hearty and healthy stew that’s easy to make and tastes better the longer it stews.
It consists of beef and lamb chunks, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, parsley, garlic, and peppercorns.
You roughly chop all ingredients into large chunks, throw it all in a deep pot, fill it up with water, and boil it over an open flame until all ingredients are tender.
I like to top my stew with a dollop of sour cream.
Originating from the
Ottoman Empire, Burek is a savory, flakey filo dough pie that is typical in all nations that were once under Ottoman rule, including Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Northern Africa.
It may have different names in every region, but the cooking technique and ingredients are nearly identical.
It has a flakey and butter filo crust with vegetable, starch, dairy, or meat fillings.
In Bosnia, the most common variety of Burek is round-shaped minced meat pies with layers of filo dough stacked with minced meat and onions.
My favorite Burek variety is the vegetarian variety called Ispanakli Selank Boregi with chopped spinach.
A delightfully healthy dessert, Tufahija is a sugar-poached apple stuffed with walnuts.
The peeled poached apple is moist and tender, served in a glass ice-cream dish and topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
Tufahija is another delicacy that originated in the Ottoman Empire era, taking its name from the Turkish word for apple.
It tastes like the innards of an apple walnut cobbler in my opinion, and would make
a great fall dessert!
If I want to splurge a bit, I'll put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the bottom of the dish before topping it with Tufahija and whipped cream, creating a sort of parfait.
Tufahija is best served with a cup of traditional Bosnian coffee!
There’s nothing more decadent than fried dough, and every culture has its own version,
from doughnuts to beignets.
In Bosnia, these yeasty fried treats go by Ustipci, derived from the verb “to pinch or nip.”
I imagine early Bosnian cooks pinching off balls of freshly risen dough to toss into the frier.
My guess is as good as anyone else’s because the exact origins of Ustipci are a mystery.
These fried dough rounds can be sweet or savory. You can enjoy them with any number of toppings and accompaniments, from cheese to jam, to powdered sugar.
You can also add ingredients to the dough, like chunks of fruit, meat, or cheese.
I like them as a sweet dessert, slathered in
fruit compote or Nutella.
Surely, you’ve heard of this heavenly honey-soaked dessert. Baklava is the staple dessert in any
Middle Eastern and Mediterranean country.
As you might’ve guessed, Baklava is the product of Ottoman cuisine and is perhaps one of the most popular desserts in the world.
They come in countless varieties, but they’re all stunning bite-sized squares or triangles of honey-soaked filo pastry stuffed with nuts.
In Bosnia, Baklava is often cooked in a large round tin cut into long, thin triangular slices.
I’m partial to pistachio or pecan Baklava, but any variety will be a tasty and cheerful treat.
Enjoy it with a strong cup of espresso or Turkish coffee.
Meaning “Bey’s Stew” Begova Corba is the Bosnian equivalent of chicken soup in that it's a classic comfort food as well as one of their traditional dishes.
Corba is the Bosnian adaptation of the Arabic word “chorba” which means stew.
Every Middle Eastern and European nation has its proprietary variety, using ingredients and spices native to its geography.
Begova Corba is the ultimate cold day Bosnian stew that warms you up and comforts your soul.
It’s a popular holiday soup in Bosnia, but you’ll find it in any traditional restaurant.
I was caught off guard by the okra in this vegetable stew, but it is cut into thin rounds and adds a healthy heartiness that certainly helps cure what ails you.
Another staple of Ottoman cuisine, dolma is a common appetizer or mezze that consists of stuffed vegetables, served with a variety of other small plates to preclude the main dish.
Dolma is rice-stuffed grape leaves. The boiled rice is usually mixed with fresh mint or other fine herbs then wrapped into bite-sized rolls and steamed. Dolmas are popular in other cuisines like
Dolma is usually served cold and drizzled with a generous amount of fresh lemon juice.
They’re soft, creamy, and refreshing. It’s easy to eat an entire plate of them if you’re impatient.
I like serving them with a crunchier mezze to create a balanced texture profile.
If you are partial want to make a meal out of stuffed grape leaves, Bosnians provide that option with a heartier version of dolmas known as Japrak.
Japrak are traditionally stuffed with rice and minced beef. The types of leaves used as the outer shell of these bite-sized delicacies vary from collard greens to kale, chard, and even cabbage.
Greek dolmades, Japrak is served hot and is the main dish as opposed to an appetizer.
They are hearty, mild, and healthy. I like to serve them with a sour yogurt sauce or charred lemon to add tang to their savory taste.
A Bosnian variety of Manti, or dumplings, Klepe are Bosnian meat and onion stuffed doughballs, steamed or baked in a sour yogurt and garlic sauce.
Whether it's pierogis in Poland or gyoza in Japan, dumplings are universal soul food.
They’re a labor-intensive scratch-made meal that will always remind you of down-home cooking even if you can now buy them packaged in the frozen food section of any grocery store.
Klepe is a cross between
Turkish Manti and Italian ravioli, but the distinguishing characteristic for me is the creamy, tangy, and aromatic yogurt sauce.
There’s also a generous seasoning of paprika, salt, and pepper to the meat and onion filling that makes for a heavenly flavor profile.
Dolmas vary drastically from country to country and from region to region.
The term “dolma” is a more blanket term for stuffed vegetables.
Sogan Dolmas are stuffed onions made by filling the outer layers of an onion with minced beef, rice, tomato puree, seasonings, and sour cream.
Despite the strong bite of raw onion, Sogan Dolma boils the onions to soften the outer skin. They also chop the inner layers to sauté with the meat stuffing.
Finally, the stuffed onions then simmer in an aromatic broth. Thus, the finished product is sweet, subtle, and melt-in-your-mouth tender.
If I ordered dolmas expecting Greek stuffed grape leaves and got Bosnian dolmas instead, I wouldn’t be mad about it!
Bosnian sarma is a traditional dish that is loved by Bosnians.
Sarma is similar to dolma, but instead of grape leaves you use pickled vegetables to wrap the dish, usually pickled cabbage.
It consists of cabbage leaves that are stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, rice, onions, and spices, and then cooked in a tomato-based sauce.
The cabbage leaves become tender and flavorful from cooking in the sauce, while the filling provides a delicious and satisfying texture.
Sarma is often served as a main dish accompanied by a side of mashed potatoes or bread, and it is also a staple dish during holidays and special occasions.
Bosnia is both a Slavic and a Mediterranean country, comprised of three ethnic groups that share cultures and religions with Europe and the
Such ethnic diversity is especially apparent in Bosnian cuisine.
Popular Bosnian food encompasses a broad range of stews, meat, appetizers, and desserts that draw from their
Mediterranean flavors and a collection of recipes from ancient empires.