As we always get the same question, what is the traditional dish to eat in Macedonia, here is something to narrow it down for you and help you decide what would be the best taste of Macedonia. There are so many things that you can try, as there are plenty of different dishes, however, having in mind that most of the dishes are shared with other Balkan nations, there are only several options that could be called traditional Macedonian dish. Here we will present to you what should you be expecting from the Macedonian cuisine.
1 The most traditional, as well as the most popular thing to eat in Macedonia is definitely Ajvar. Sometimes called the “veggie caviar”, this is something that should not be missed when wanting to taste the Macedonian cuisine. This pepper-based condiment made principally from red bell peppers and oil is not something that will give you great strength, however, it will lift your spirit while tasting it. Macedonian families are known to be making Ajvar in large quantities, especially during the ajvar making season in September, when everyone is preparing for the long winter. Certainly, the best way to try it, is to spread it on a piece of bread and top it with pieces of cheese. Even though it can be eaten mostly for breakfast, Ajvar is enjoyed at any time during the day. Many restaurants offer this as a side dish, but if you would like to bring some home, there are companies which make it almost as great as the homemade and sell it in supermarkets, but make sure to take from the one which is well cooked, and not the one that is only pre-cooked.
2 Another one of the tourists favorites is Burek. This famous Balkan pastry is quite popular for breakfast and it is made of a thin flaky dough such as phyllo or yufka, and with variety of fillings inside. Even though the Bosnian people always get mad when you ask them what kind of burek they want, whether with cheese or meat, in Macedonia nobody will get mad for sure. The Macedonians are even adding new things, and nowadays you are able to find burek with meat, cheese, spinach and cheese, pizza, pickled cabbage, leeks and cheese, with hope that there will be more varieties in the future. The best way to enjoy this “Balkan delicacy” is always with yogurt, and make sure that you eat it in the morning.
3 Gibanica is also something what you eat in the morning. Similar to burek, there are some differences between these two pastries. Being one of the more popular dishes, this traditional Macedonian pastry is usually homemade from phyllo or yufka, with addition of eggs and cheese. There are not that many bake stores which make this type of pastry, but those that do, are definitely making it quite amazing. Of course, this pastry is enjoyed with the addition of yogurt.
4 Mekica is another addition to the breakfast club that has been very popular in Macedonia for a very long time. Quite similar to doughnuts, this amazing traditional dish is made of kneaded dough that has added yogurt, and then it is deep fried. There is a longstanding tradition that when the family has a newborn, the grandmother prepares mekici (pl. from mekica) for the people who will be coming home to congratulate the family for their new addition to the family. Usually eaten with Macedonian white cheese, some people too enjoy them with yogurt, or homemade marmalade or jam. Lately in Skopje, they became more popular thing to eat in the morning and there are many places where you can buy them.
Salads and Sides
1 Shopska Salad is the most popular salad anyone can try in Macedonia. Even though similar to other salads, there is a small difference from the Mediterranean salad in the way the cheese is served with it, and there are no olives. Basically, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and green pepper are all mixed together, and on top of them is grated traditional Macedonian cheese.
2 Makalo is the perfect option for those who adore garlic or onion as it will be served with either a lot of garlic, or a lot of onion. The best thing is that it will protect you from the cold and flu during wintertime, but the only negative thing is that you will eat a lot of bread. Still, depending from the place where it is served, it can be served like smashed potatoes and dried red bell peppers overflowed with boiling oil, or a more liquefied form so that you would be able to dip your bread in it.
3 Tarator is a cold salad, similar to the French salad, and it is made from yogurt or fermented milk, cucumbers and sometimes garlic is added to it. Very refreshing during the summer months, tarator is best enjoyed before the main meal is served. With a little bit of bread, it is considered the perfect announcer for the main course.
4 Nafora is a bread which is baked for a couple of minutes on a barbecue so that it would absorb the barbecue flavor, and then it is transferred to a plate and topped with grated cheese. It goes perfectly with the barbecue meats, and every salad.
Lunch and Dinner
There are no regular times when the Macedonians are going for lunch or dinner, so basically you can have lunch and dinner at the same time, or have lunch at 15:00h and then have dinner at 19:00h. These are some of the things that the are considered traditional ones, and are ordered most of the time by the Macedonians.
1 Tavche Gravche is definitely the most traditional dish that you can find in Macedonia. With varieties of recipes, this is considered like a vegetarian option for the picky ones, and one thing that you will find for sure in this dish is beans. Translated to “Beans in a pan”, it is most of the time baked and served in a traditional clay made pot, and even though the recipe is so simple that includes beans, onion, oil, dry red peppers, parsley, salt and black pepper, there are some places which add sausage so that the beans would be more tasty. It is best enjoyed with Shopska Salad or just sliced fresh tomatoes and bread.
2 Macedonian Barbecue, better known as Skara, is certainly the most popular thing in every restaurant around the city and the country as well. There are all kinds of prepared meals that are most of the time prepared on a charcoal grill which gives the meat that special flavor. Among the most popular things to eat are: 1) Sharska Pleskavica which is a burger meat that is filled with cheese, 2) Uvijach that is a chicken or pork meat filled with cheese and then wrapped in a bacon, 3) Razhnjich which is a chicken or pork meat in small pieces, wrapped in bacon, with several pieces stuck to a stick and then baked, 4) Sausage where you can encounter a variety of sausages, usually called by the city or person where they were invented 5) Kebapi (pl. from kebap) which are small pieces of long grilled meat 6) Macedonian style ribs, etc. All of these things can, and must be eaten with the traditional Shopska Salad and the Nafora bread, and they are usually served with sides like french fries and fresh veggetables.
3 Sarma, or better known for the English speaking folks as Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, is something that is usually made at home, but you can find it in some restaurants around the city. Even though it is usually prepared in winter, especially in large quantities, so that the family could enjoy in it for several days. There is no great science behind it, and it is simply a minced meat that is mixed with rice, and then stuffed with pickled cabbage leaf. For better experience, it tastes even better when it is sprinkled with bukovec (a type of crushed salt with dried red bell peppers).
4 Polneti Piperki, or for the English speaking folks Stuffed Peppers, is a traditional Macedonian dish that is quite popular for family lunches. Usually the red bell peppers are large enough so that they would be stuffed with a minced meat and rice, and closed with potato or tomato so that the stuffing won’t come out during baking.
5 Selska Tava, or as the translation would be “Village Pot”, is something that you can encounter in every restaurant and it is considered too a national dish of Macedonia. There are varieties of recipes, and making one depends from the place or the person, nonetheless, the most common ingredients used to cook this are: meat and onion. Some cooks add vegetables, cheese, mushrooms etc, and if you have some requests just make sure to ask before ordering this dish.
6 Chorba, better known as stew is among the many traditional dishes of Macedonia that are cooked for a long time. Usually served in restaurants from morning until afternoon, there are varieties of stew like: veal, tripe, chicken, fish, and in some places a vegetarian option like potato stew, which makes it the perfect option to get more liquefied food in you. To get the best possible experience, it is always recommended to eat it with some salad like Vitamin Salad (cabbage, beetroot, cucumbers and carrots) with some bread.
7 One of the most weird things to eat in Macedonia is definitely Kukurec. This delicacy is mostly prepared during Easter festivities, and it is made from goat or lamb intestines, which are thoroughly cleaned and then filled with mostly rice and a bit of minced meat. That is why it is considered to be low in fat and calories, and it goes perfectly with Shopska Salad and Macedonian red wine.
8 Pastrmajlija is not so popular thing to eat in Skopje, however, it is greatly enjoyed in east Macedonia. Sometimes referred to as the Macedonian pizza, this main dish is a traditional oval shaped baked dough pie that is topped with cubed meat, usually pork meat, and depending from the city, there are additions like eggs, cheese, more salt, pickles, and similar ingredients. Every year there are festivals organized in honor of this dish, and the competition for the best pastrmajlija is among the cities of Shtip and Veles, but in the end the city in between them, Sveti Nikole, always silently and skillfully steps in for the best pastrmajlija in the country. Still, in order to enjoy as much as possible in this magnificent dish, always eat it with pickles.
So, these would be the most common things that visitors and Macedonians as well are eating constantly, so we certainly hope that you would be enjoying them as much as we always do.