Bulgaria is located in the southeastern part of the Balkans. With that location, comes a tradition of phenomenal food that makes even the biggest of foodies blush. At one point in time, this region of the world was occupied by the Romans, Greeks, and Turks making it a crazy melting pot of Mediterranean and Arabic cuisine. If you love food and are wondering what do Bulgarians eat, here are some of the dishes you can’t leave the country without trying.
Bulgarian Baked Goods
Bulgarians love bread. If there is one thing you won’t have trouble finding at any point on your visit to Bulgaria it’s a delicious hunk of bread in many different forms and variations. I’ve personally seen grown men cry over some of these baked goods, so you shouldn’t be ashamed if you do the same after trying them.
This is possibly the most dangerously addicting food you will try in Bulgaria. Milinki is essentially little balls of dough topped with lots of butter and brined cheese.
They are typically baked and sold together in sets of around 6. You may tell yourself that you’ll only eat one, but you’ll probably end up eating them all.
Banitsa is arguably the most Bulgarian of all the baked goods. Even though there are tons of different types of banitsa they are based on filo dough which is layered with a delicious Bulgarian feta and egg mixture. Varieties can differ based on the region, type of cheese, and even baking method. Incredibly addictive. Beware.
Kozunak is considered a dessert and traditionally made on Easter. It is usually made by taking three strands of dough and weaving them together. The Kozunak is then baked and topped with sugar and nuts. One of the things that make Kozunak unique, and even more delicious, is how flaky the dough is.
Bulgarians love their salad, and you can easily see that by opening up a menu at any restaurant. There are many different types that are both healthy (most of the time) and delicious, but here are some of the most famous ones.
If there is one thing for certain, it’s that it’s never hard to find Shopska salad in Bulgaria. Easily found in every restaurant or on the tables of home-cooked meals, it’s made of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, red onion, and topped with a healthy amount of Bulgarian feta cheese (which is many times shredded, creamy, and delightful). It doesn’t come with a “dressing” but all restaurants in Bulgaria have olive oil and vinegar on the tables so you can season your salad to your liking.
This salad is pretty unique and made by finely chopping cucumber and dill then mixing it into strained yogurt. The resulting salad is tart, salty, and very refreshing. You can also add some finely chopped garlic and top it off with walnuts if you want.
A “winter” variation exists which replaces fresh cucumber with pickles.
Despite its name, this salad can be found all over Bulgaria and is traditionally made in the winter around the holidays. It’s made by chopping the following ingredients in cubes: pickles, cooked carrots, cooked potatoes, peas (not chopped obviously), and best of all hot dogs. Yes, hot dogs. This is then all mixed into mayonnaise! While this might sound like an odd mixture you’re guaranteed to love it. Unless you hate mayonnaise…then it might not be your thing.
Bulgarians eat a lot of meat… like a lot. And there are tons of different types of meaty deliciousness waiting for you if you’re a true carnivore. Here’s what you need to try when you visit Bulgaria.
Kufte is the Bulgarian meatball, but with a little something extra.
Unlike most meatballs that are just meat, kufteta (kufte in the plural form) have a mix of chopped onions, parsley, eggs, and wait for it… soaked bread. The resulting “meatball” is not just a spherical hunk of meat, but a delicious treat that is loved by all Bulgarians.
Another secret ingredient used in the making of kufteta, and most Bulgarian meat dishes, is chubritza. Chubritza is a special herb mix which you can get only in Bulgaria. It has a strong, very distinct smell that you will later dream about.
There’s no great cuisine in the world that does not have a recipe for meat in tube form, and Bulgaria definitely lives up to that.
The kebapche is usually made from ground meat that is 50% pork and 50% beef along with a healthy sprinkle of cumin and chubritza. The mixture is then rolled into a tube shape and grilled. For the most Bulgarian experience possible, it should be grilled outside with lots of beer close by.
You can find kebapcheta (plural form) at many pubs and restaurants as meze – a type of food that’s eaten as a side to alcohol. You never order one, and you should definitely try dipping it in some lutenitsa, a type of pepper and tomato based spread famous in Bulgaria.
When translated into English the name of this “dish” is mixed meat, and it lives up to the name. If you want to get a taste of the entire gamut of Bulgarian cooked meats this is what you should get. It’s essentially a large platter with everything I’ve mentioned in this section and several more types of cooked meats/sausages.
So you should probably get it. Go crazy!
Bulgarian soups and stews
The name of this soup directly translates into “Stomach Soup” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.
This Bulgarian favorite is essentially beef tripe (stomach lining) that is chopped into cubes and then simmered in a paprika-infused milk broth. It’s then often times served with a healthy dose of garlic soaked in vinegar.
This may not sound like the most appealing dish in the world but it’s a must-try. It’s delicious and often times consumed in the early hours of the day when people are making their way home from the bars and need some strength to get them the rest of the way to their beds.
If the idea of eating tripe doesn’t appeal to you, don’t eat the chunks of tripe but just enjoy the broth. It’s one of the most flavourful and delicious things out there. Trust me!
Gyuvech is named for the type of dish that the meal is cooked in. Essentially a Gyuvech is a clay pot (it can be both large and small) that is bulbous, with a clay top, and oftentimes decorated with classic Bulgarian designs. Gyuvech is a type of stew that combines meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, and other veggies. There are many different types of gyuvech depending on the area of Bulgaria you’re in and the season.
Do you remember the Snezhanka salad from above? Well, this is essentially the soup version of the salad and beloved by all Bulgarians. It’s made by finely chopping cucumbers (never pickles), and dill, and combining it with a mixture of equal parts water and yogurt. The soup is then topped with olive oil, and sometimes garlic and walnuts.
This is possibly one of the most famous Bulgarian dishes and usually consumed during the summer since it’s served cold.
Whether its fluffy delicious bread in the morning or a shopska and Meshena Skara in the evening, Bulgaria has an endless array of yummy cuisine that is worth visiting and experiencing. When it comes to what do Bulgarians eat, I think it’s safe to say they eat well.