10 foods you have to try when you are in Sofia, Bulgaria
One of the top reasons I love Bulgaria so much is the delicious Bulgarian food! Rich in flavors, variations, colors and forms, our cuisine is strongly influenced by Middle East but has its own unique charisma.
There’s one word that can truly describe the Bulgarian food: tasty!
If you don’t believe me, I dare you to prove me wrong and try these 10 extremely delicious foods when you visit Sofia or other place in Bulgaria:
1. Shopska Salata
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There isn’t more beloved salad in Bulgaria than Shopska Salata. It is simple, fresh and perfect for the summer. You may think that there’s nothing special in just some chopped vegetables, but you will be wrong.
Our special ingredient – Bulgarian white cheese (Sirene), is what makes this salad so good. Our Sirene is made with the help of a unique bacteria which lives only in Bulgaria. That’s why Bulgarian white cheese is the best and Shopska Salata is absolutely required on your to-try list! You can find Shopska Salata in any traditional restaurant in the capital. (Shopska Salata recipe)
There is no summer without our favorite cold yoghurt soup Tarator. Fresh cucumbers, delicious Bulgarian yoghurt, some walnuts, dill, water and you are in heaven. If you don’t try Tarator while you are in Bulgaria, you can’t leave the country with full experience. Head to the nearest restaurant and ask for it. It’s absolutely delicious! (Tarator recipe)
3. Shkembe chorba
There’s no other way to say it: Bulgarians either passionately love or truly hate Shkembe chorba. This is a tripe soup common for all the Balkan countries. Besides obviously the tripe, the soup is spiced with lots of garlic, red paprika and some milk. For me, the tripe soup sounds really disgusting, but many people love it. It is also believed that this is the best cure for hangover!
4. Banitsa or banichka
I’ve said it a million times. Banitsa is the queen of the Bulgarian cuisine. It is made with pastry sheets with a filling of cheese, eggs and yoghurt (Banitsa recipe). There are some variations – with pumpkin or with spinach, but the traditional Banitsa is with white cheese. Banichka is the mini version of the traditional round Banitsa. You can find Banichka in every local bakery in Sofia. Try it with boza and you’ll get the favourite breakfast of every Bulgarian!
5. Meshana skara
Meshana skara Bulgaria
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Bulgarians love to eat meat. Meshana skara is a combination of grilled meat in different forms and versions. It mostly include kyufte (meatball), kebabche (grilled minced meat, long), pork steak, shishche (skewer) and karnache (Italian sausage). Garnish with Shopska Salata and Rakia and you may even start speaking Bulgarian…
6. Bulgarian version of Moussaka
Moussaka comes originally from the Middle East which has a strong influence on the Bulgarian cuisine from the time when Bulgaria was under Ottoman rule for almost 500 years. The Bulgarian version of Moussaka is based on potatoes, ground meat and yoghurt layer on top. We eat it often because it’s super delicious and easy to cook. (Bulgarian Moussaka recipe)
Another Bulgarian specialty is Sarmi – cabbage or vine leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice. It is one of the dishes on the Christmas Eve table in a version without meat. Sarmi are also popular in other countries on the Balkans.
8. Stuffed peppers or Byurek peppers
stuffed peppers bulgaria
Stuffed peppers with minced meat and rice (again) is also very popular dish in Bulgaria. A version without meat is also served on the table on Christmas Eve. Byurek peppers are almost similar – they are rather fried than baked. Byurek peppers are filled with cheese.
9. Simple cheese and yoghurt
If you are looking for some simplicity or you are curious about it, you can go to the nearest supermarket and get the Bulgarian white cheese and yoghurt just to try them back in your hotel/hostel. Some of the good brands are Vereya (Верея), Na Baba (На Баба), Bozhenci (Боженци).
10. Drinks: Boza, Ayryan, Rakia or just Mineral water
Boza is a sweet drink with thick consistency and low alcohol content. It is served cold. Most of the foreigners don’t like it but I dare you to just try it. You can find boza in almost any street bakery in Sofia. It goes well with Banichka for breakfast.
Ayryan is a fresh yoghurt drink perfect for the summer. It is made with yoghurt, water and some salt – as simple as that.
Rakia is a common strong alcoholic drink on the Balkans and very common in Bulgaria. It goes well with Shopska Salata or Turshiya.
Bulgarian Mineral Water is simply the best! I’ve been in many European countries, there isn’t more delicious mineral water than the one in Bulgaria. In fact, Bulgaria has over 700 mineral water springs and is one of the leading destinations when it comes to that.