Bulgaria is blessed with animal and vegetable produce. Their vegetables and meat is available easily, locally and at a reasonable price. That’s why their food is extremely earthy, and flavoured with vegetables, juices and subtle spices. Chew on this overview of Bulgarian cuisine and what to expect when you migrate there.
The Bulgarian climate is very conducive for vegetable farming and so you will find vegetables being used in almost everything from soups to stews and even some breads. Peppers, cabbage, onions, eggplant etc. are found in plenty in many of the dishes. So, unlike some European countries where a lot of people eat primarily non-vegetarian food, Bulgarians love their vegetables. In fact, sometimes, salads make for main courses in themselves. Vegetarians will be especially excited to know special vegetarian food is prepared on main festivals like Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Wheat is the primary source of carbohydrates here along with a bit of potato. If you are a bread lover, Bulgaria is the right place for you. There’s like virtually a list of different types of breads. Plain bread, with vegetables, eggs, cheeses, stuffed or mixed. The Pita varieties are used daily. Then there are breads like Kravai, Polach and Pogacha, which are made for traditional rituals like weddings and other ceremonies. You will also find a variety of pancakes, pastries, crepes, sweet, savory, veg, non-veg…basically, there’s a type of bread for anyone and everyone here.
Lamb, goat meat, veal, chicken and pork are the favourites when it comes to animal protein. Lamb especially so and besides their own consumption, Bulgaria also exports exemplary quality of lamb meat.
A certain amount of the West Indian (Gujarati) influence has been found in the spices found here, primarily because of the trading which took place in the earlier century between Bulgarian and Gujarati traders. Cumin, pepper and a few herbs are used to add a subtle taste. Onions, garlic and olives are also used in plenty, lending a Mediterranean influence of its neighbours like Greece and Turkey.
If there is something that the Bulgarians love, it is their yogurt, which is consumed in plenty, especially around breakfast. The Bulgarians sure know how to get their daily quota of probiotic bacteria. In fact, yogurt is an essential ingredient of many recipes here. Bulgaria is also known for its wide variety of cheeses. The Bulgarian White cheese is a hot favourite. Cheese is a part of breads, salads, main courses and sometimes even consumed by itself mostly for breakfast or as a quick snack.
The Bulgarians make the most of their produce when it comes to their desserts. Rice, dry fruits, nuts, dairy, plums, honey and more, the Bulgarians have learnt to make the simplest of dessert a lip smacking affair. In fact, smoked fruits with nutty toppings are very often served at the end of the meal, as a sweet end to their meals. You must have heard of the dessert called Baklava. This is a very East European recipe and every European country has its version. The Bulgarian Baklava is made using walnuts and honey.
How do they cook?
The Bulgarians are a patient lot. Most of their food is slow cooked on a fire. That is the best way to cook food in our opinion. Which is why the Bulgarians eat a lot of stews, roasts etc. You will notice that there are not many fried food options unlike in Asia. The Bulgarians begin their days with fruit, cheese, some bread and yogurt, as mentioned earlier, is an essential part of this meal. Fresh soup or a salad along with some stewed vegetables or animal protein along with a bread makes for the mid-day meal. They have a comparatively early dinner, around 7, which is similar to their lunch.