Mam and her husband in Bulgaria
I don't know why we've never got around to visiting ourselves as Bulgaria is a very inexpensive holiday destination. With prices starting at only a few hundred pounds, it is definitely on our 2016 holiday shortlist. We have whetted our appetite to visit Bulgaria even further this week as we joined in with the #ExpediaWorldOnAPlate challenge and created a three course Bulgarian feast to enjoy at home.
When I started to think about Bulgarian cuisine I couldn't think of anything! To me, Bulgaria is a country that isn't exactly known for it's food and I couldn't think of a single Bulgarian dish. After a little research however I discovered that their cuisine is varied and shares traits with dishes from Italy, Russia and Middle East cuisine. Lamb, goat and pork all feature heavily alongside salads, soups and casseroles.
Bulgarian Shopska Salad recipe
The Shopska salad is probably the most famous dish in Bulgaria. Originating from the country's capital Sofia, you will find this dish on most menus throughout the country. Simple and easy to make (open Shopska Salad recipe PDF here), the basic ingredients are large tomatoes, a green pepper, cucumber, onion, cucumber, a white cheese, parsley and olive oil.
Shopska Salad can be served as either a starter or as a side to grilled meat.
It was bizarre eating a salad with no leaves as such which is what we are used to in the UK however the ingredients really brought out the flavours of the tomato and both myself and Steve agreed we will be omitting salad leaves from our salads more often.
Bulgarian Shish Kebab recipe
Shish Kebab are extremely popular in Bulgaria and again served in most restaurants. The most popular meats would be lamb or pork. We decided to go with lamb for our meal. You can pick any vegetable to add to your skewers and once prepared, it is traditional to sprinkle with a little oregano. We grilled our kebab's for around 15 minutes which left the meat lovely and tender. These kebabs were really simple to make and can even be prepared in advance. I loved the oregano and lamb combination which is one I'll certainly be trying again.
Bulgarian Palachinka (pancake) recipe
When it was time to think of dessert there were two main options that I had in mind - either Baklava or Bulgarian Pancakes. I opted for the pancakes as we usually only eat them once a year on pancake day and didn't need any persuading to cook them again.
To make 4 pancakes you will need:-
50g plain flour
150 ml semi-skimmed milk
oil for frying
Simply whisk all of the ingredients together and ladle into a very hot non-stick pan. These were easy peasy to make. We served ours with honey and nuts which is the traditional Bulgarian way and DELICIOUS.
I have honestly learned so much about Bulgarian cuisine during this challenge and both myself and my husband have agreed we need to be a little more experimental in the kitchen and try new cuisines instead of sticking with Thai curry or Mexican Fajitas. Our three course Bulgarian feast took no time at all to create and was simple food cooked well at it's best. Last year Bulgaria was visited by over 9.4 million tourists and I can certainly see why. Bulgaria has now definitely been pushed a little higher up our list as our potential holiday destination for 2016.
Have you ever travelled to Bulgaria or tried their cuisine? I'd love to hear from you.