Connoisseurs of culinary masterpieces should definitely visit Croatia. National Croatian cuisine is famous for its delicious dishes, which are loved by tourists from all over the world. Even Italians admire the pizza made in this sunny southern country.
The main features of the national Croatian cuisine
The cooking of this area is distinguished by a rich variety. Visiting this region, you can get acquainted with the original cuisines of such regions as Croatian Zagorje, Istria, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Lika, Podravina, Međimursk, Dubrovnik.
One of the important features of the national cuisine is the simplicity of dishes that have a unique taste, as well as the abundance of alcohol produced at home. Among the advantages is an extraordinary cheese.
Croatian cuisine is not only delicious, but also healthy. For their preparation, local organic products are used. Therefore, food is rich in nutrients, energizes and conquers with bright aromas. Thanks to the use of healthy food, the life expectancy of the local population is approximately 75 years.
The culinary traditions of Croatia date back to ancient times. Since ancient times, the tastes of the inhabitants of the mainland of the country differed from the preferences of the coastal residents. Therefore, even now Croatian cuisine is divided into 2 parts: central and coastal. Central Croatia includes Zagreb and Slavonia, and the Adriatic coast includes Istria, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik.
The development of the traditions of the central cuisine was influenced by early ties with the Slavs, and later with neighbors. The influence of Turkish, Austrian, Hungarian and Arabic cooking has survived to this day.
The food preferences of the population of the coastal regions were influenced by the traditions of Greek, Roman, Italian and French cultures.
Croatian cuisine combines 2 directions: Mediterranean and continental. The first is characterized by the use of fish and other seafood, useful herbs with spices. And for the second – an abundance of poultry, beef, lamb. The favorite meat in this country is lamb.
To bake bread, a mixture of corn and barley is added to the flour.
National dishes are prepared mainly from such products: sausage, ham, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, cheese, herbs, fish, oysters, mollusks, squid and shrimp.
A perfect addition to many culinary works is a sauce of garlic and onions. Fragrant herbs give food a delicious taste: rosemary, basil, lemon balm, sage, mint, marjoram, oregano, sage and others.
Each region of the country has its own culinary characteristics. To appreciate the palette of tastes, make your own fascinating route.
Dalmatia and Dubrovnik Islands
Instant food is popular in this region. There is an Italian and Greek influence in the local cuisine. Fresh fish and seafood will leave an unforgettable impression. A special aroma of food is given by herbs. Connoisseurs of good alcohol will be pleased with fine wines. Pay attention to the amazing dishes: pate, vitalac, hanging beravitsa.
Istria and Kvarner
This coast is famous for fresh fish and other seafood, juicy, rich meat and truffles. You will not confuse these dishes with anything. Hospitable hosts will delight guests with shrimp buzara in tomato and wine sauce or iota soup, as well as pasta with asparagus and shrimp.
Truffles grow on the sunny coast all year round. And individual travel agencies provide tourists with the opportunity to collect a basket of black or white mushrooms themselves. They are especially tasty with pasta.
Here you will certainly be treated to juicy cheese from the island of Pag. Be sure to try the Istrian prosciutto, i.e. smoked-dried ham.
In the East of Croatia, the influence of the traditions of Austria-Hungary is felt. Here, fish dishes, as well as meat sausages have a sharp taste thanks to paprika and garlic. Tourists, in order to appreciate the merits of Slavonian cuisine, do not have to visit expensive restaurants – cozy and homely eateries will be pleasantly pleased.
From alcoholic beverages, be sure to try fruit brandy and delicate rakija with the aroma of plum and quince. Local wines have unusual nutritional properties.
Gorski Kotar and Lika
The cuisine of this area is distinguished by the simplicity of its dishes. Here you can taste treats from corn flour, potatoes and cabbage, try string beans and mushrooms, fresh milk.
Special attention should be paid to homemade soft cheese called “Škripavac”. It even creaks when slicing and serves as an excellent snack for dry and semi-sweet wine. Rakija on plums has a delicious taste.
North-western part of Croatia
Local cuisine is healthy, simple and refined. You will like corn bread, fish paprikash, soups and broths from juicy, rich meat, unusual mixtures of herbs, buckwheat porridge with blood sausage, tender strudel, juicy geese, ducks.
From alcohol, taste the honey wine “gvirz”. It is sweet and bitter due to the added spicy spices.
Typical products and traditional dishes
National dishes are offered not only in exquisite restaurants, but also in cozy Croatian taverns, which are decorated with a cozy fireplace, and dishes here are prepared from homemade products. Pizzerias serve delicious Italian pizza. There is also an original Croatian pastry – “pizzetta”.
By tradition, they include rich soups with chicken and veal, rice and vermicelli. For travelers with children, this is a good solution.
No less beloved by tourists treat – ukha – is prepared from a fillet of white fish. In addition, a common dish is tomato soup, which is served hot. Even in Croatia, white soup is prepared, hunting from game, Medzhimursky using buckwheat.
The most popular meat delicacy is “meat under the cap”, it is a signature dish in taverns. It is prepared in a special frying pan called “peka”, the lid of which resembles a dome. Beef, veal or lamb meat is laid in pieces on the bottom of the vessel, and onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, hot and sweet peppers are added on top. From below, the meat is fried on fire, and from above it is heated by the heat under the dome. This dish is prepared to order.
Another incredible masterpiece of cooking is hanging begavitsa, or lamb meat, which was stewed in sour milk. Cooked according to a centuries-old recipe, it has a delicate taste and melts in the mouth. Be sure to try the delicious pate – juicy beef with vegetables in wine. And then there’s the tender beef meat stewed in tomato and garlic sauce. And a roll of “kanavatsa” meat, a thick soup of chobanets, duck and chicken, fried chicken and roasted lamb with raw smoked products.
Fish dishes are prepared mainly on the coast of Croatia. Among them, the “fish on the lesho” enjoys special fame.
This name resembles the usual word “lecho”. A dish of white fish is prepared, which is boiled in salt water. In the pan be sure to pour olive oil, wine vinegar, dip vegetables, black pepper and bay leaf. Serve this treat with potatoes or boiled rice.
The main dishes are prepared not only from fish, but also from other seafood. Try an interesting dish – spicy sardines. To cook them, you need to marinate the peeled fish in balsamic and grape vinegar, add salt and pepper. And then bake the carcasses on the grill or in the oven.
Another common dish in Croatia is risotto with seafood. Its distinctive feature is the use of black rice. Buzara from river crayfish or lobster is a cross between the first or second course. To prepare the sauce, wine is used (hence the name “on white and on red buzara”), flour, breadcrumbs.
Meat cuts with the name “prosciutto” is an indispensable treat on the festive table. Such snacks as Pazh sheep cheese, kulen sausages, stewed cabbage leaves are widespread. Croats especially love octopus salad.
Sweets in this country are represented by berries, fruits, honey treats. Homemade pies are a favorite dish on the Croatian table. One of the popular national dishes is Mejimur gibanitsa, or pie with a cheese layer. Apples, walnuts, raisins are added to the filling.
Gourmets will appreciate Istria, where delicious truffles grow. Even in Croatia, you can taste an interesting roll with a filling of poppy seeds with walnuts. This dish is called “povititsa” or “poppy”. An invariable attribute of the table is the cookie “papreniak”, which resembles a gingerbread. It consists of nuts, spices and ground black pepper, giving baking an original taste. Be sure to try the most delicious cake with protein-cream filling – “silicon”.
If you wake up early and want to enjoy an invigorating coffee, visit the cafeteria. In Croatia, these establishments open at about 6 am – it’s time to look here before work. There are also herbal and floral teas and refreshing lemonade.
The wine has a bright, rich taste with floral or fruity notes. Each region boasts its own varieties of wine products. Tourists have a large choice: white muscat, cabernet, malvasia, merlot, pinot and many others.
You can drink a traditional glass of delicious brandy before eating. The favorite alcoholic beverage of local residents is the dry cherry liqueur “Maraskin” with almond flavor.
What you should definitely try in Croatia
The national cuisine of this country is famous for its delicious dishes, the taste of which will be appreciated even by picky gourmets.
This is a hearty fish soup with vegetables. For its preparation, several types of fish are used, sometimes shrimp and squid are added. A sauce of tomato paste and red wine is also poured into the pan.
Such a dish is common in the Balkans. It is a thick, rich soup with beef and a variety of vegetables, seasoned with herbs and red wine sauce.
This dish is a soup-soup, which includes beans, peas, pork ribs, potatoes, celery, carrots, corn. This is a popular treat on the tables of Croatian taverns. Often it is supplemented with sausage kulen and pieces of bacon.
This culinary work resembles cabbage rolls and Georgian dolma. For its preparation, sour cabbage is used, and prosciutto is put into the minced meat, giving the filling an unusual taste and aroma.
In Mejimurye, this is a common meat dish. It is a piece of beef that is stewed with spices and lard. First, the meat is fried with carrots and onions, then a sauce with garlic and tomatoes is prepared. The cooked dish is served with potatoes.
This dish is in almost every Croatian restaurant.
Beef is marinated with vegetables in a special sauce, after which it is fried, poured with broth and stewed in wine. Then the meat is baked with prunes.
This treat resembles a thick soup. Juicy meat is stewed in a cauldron with potatoes, carrots, onions and red wine. This culinary work is original in that different types of meat are used for its preparation. For example, first stew pork, beef and lamb, then add game.
Meat on a spit
Be sure to try the tender meat of a whole roast lamb or lamb on a spit. It can often be found in local taverns. A special taste of the dish is given by local herbs: lavender, calendula, mint, rosemary, coriander, oregano, etc.
It is made from rice with cuttlefish ink and other seafood: mussels, squid, octopuses, shrimps. True, the dish has an unusual color.
Prosciutto, or prosciutto, is a meat delicacy that in Croatia can be found on every festive table. Pork ham, smoked on coals or dried in the wind and the sun, is cut into long and thin pieces, supplemented with onions, cheese, olives. Served with wine or beer.
This is the most famous cheese that is produced on the island of Pag. It looks juicy and has a salty aftertaste that appears from the sea breeze caught on the grass. The delicacy is prepared using olive oil.
Cheese is a wonderful souvenir.
This is the name of the national Croatian pie, made from puff pastry with meat, fish, herbs or cheese.
Lovers of spicy food will appreciate the bright red sausage from minced pork with the addition of spices, paprika, garlic. It is cooked in a smokehouse. Without this delicacy, it is difficult to imagine a feast in Croatia.
Short sausages made from lamb, beef or chicken can be found in almost any Croatian city. This street food is called “chevapchichi” in another way. Often it serves as a filling for pita or other flatbread. Sauce or vegetables are added to this dish.
“Under the Peke”
Tender lamb meat is baked on coals with potatoes, vegetables, spices, wine. Often this dish is prepared from octopuses. Cooking time – at least 3 hours. Local chefs have high skill, so this masterpiece of national cuisine is definitely worth a try.
Dishes with these mushrooms have an extraordinary taste. Local cooks add truffles to pasta and risotto, meat and pasta, ravioli, sausages, cheeses and even chocolate. Be sure to grab a jar of truffle paste as a souvenir.
Sweet lovers will appreciate this pie, made from puff pastry with a delicious filling. An excellent addition are apples, poppy seeds, cottage cheese, raisins, walnuts.
Such an unusual dish in Croatia is usual to try at Christmas. However, in restaurants for tourists, you can do this all year round. Delicate in taste, the cake, resembling a sponge cake, has an unusual filling consisting of pasta, nuts and chocolate.
As a basis for the preparation of this national dessert, tender Croatian cheese is used. Cooked or baked cheese dough is poured with thick cream. Even tastier food will be with sour cream or berry syrup.
The culinary inventions of local chefs can be found at major street festivals in the city. In other places, dishes of dubious origin are best avoided. An exception is bakeries, where there are a lot of fresh pastries.
In Croatia, snack bars are widespread, where you can order french fries, hearty burgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, burek, chevapchichi, pita (flatbread in the form of a pocket), steaks and even Chinese food, such as duck with rice and noodles with vegetables under a sauce of local preparation. Burrito is also popular – this version of fast food can be presented in a vegetarian version.
There are especially many fast food establishments in Zagreb, in contrast to Dubrovnik, where cafes and restaurants are mainly common. In autumn, you can enjoy the wonderful taste of fried chestnuts on the street. And in any kiosk to buy Cedevita effervescent water, enriched with vitamins – children love it.
To prepare chevapchichi you need:
- onions – 1 head;
- 0.5 kg of minced meat;
- olive oil – 1 tbsp;
- salt – 1 tsp;
- freshly ground black pepper and paprika to taste;
- 50 ml of mineral water.
Double-roll the ground beef in the meat grinder. Put finely chopped onions and paprika in it, salt, pepper and mix. After adding mineral water, stir for a few minutes. Then add olive oil to cover the meat. Put the resulting minced meat in the refrigerator overnight.
Cut off the neck of the plastic bottle. Push the minced meat through it to form sausages. Lay them out on a cutting board. Then place the sausages on a grill pan greased with olive oil. Fry the chevapchichi on each side for 8 minutes, turning them regularly. The appetizer is served with potatoes and vegetables.
To prepare another Croatian dish – a layer cake made of meat, or bureks – you will need:
- 500 g minced beef;
- onion – 2 pcs.;
- 200-300 g of puff pastry;
- vegetable and butter – for lubricating the pan and pie;
- sesame, a little salt and pepper to taste.
Fry diced onions in oil (sunflower, or better – olive) and put in minced meat. Then add the greens, season with salt, pepper and stir.
Divide the dough into 4 parts. Then roll them out to a thin state and fill with minced meat. Pinch the dough and roll it with a snail. Grease the top with melted butter. Bake sesame cake for 25 minutes in the oven at +200°C.