Why I've never been to Bulgaria and how I've made up for it - recipes for a traditional Shopska salad and Shish Kebabs

Now there's going to be a bit of a sob story here. When I was 19 years old I reached the point in my life when I no longer wanted to go on holiday with my parents. I had just bought a flat with my husband to be and was obviously more interested in spending time with him than going away with my parents. I remember the first holiday the family booked without me was a fortnights trip to Bulgaria. They took my younger brother who would have been about 15 years old at the time too. When they returned with their bronzed skin and talk of nights spent at beach BBQ's with free flowing beer, trips through the mountains and delicious food that was cheap as chips, I couldn't help but be a little envious and definitely thought I was missing out. We all have to grow up at some point though!

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.

Bulgarian Cuisine

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 , 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
1 egg
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. 


  1. You know I'm not sure I would ever have thought to cook Bulgarian cuisine but it looks really nice! Karen mini travellers

  2. I haven't been but I might rethink that now.

  3. That's a great idea! Did you manage to get some Bulgarian wine?

    Fajitas even sound experimental to me, we always stick to the same things so might have to try looking at different cuisines too, it doesn't help when the boyfriend doesn't eat any form of veg or salad!

    Ami x



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