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Croatian Cuisine

Croatian cuisine is heterogeneous and is known as a cuisine of the regions, since every region of Croatia has its own distinct culinary tradition. Its roots date back to ancient times.

The differences in the selection of foodstuffs and forms of cooking are most notable between those in mainland and those in coastal regions.

  • Mainland cuisine is more characterised by the earlier Slavic and the more recent contacts with neighbouring cultures – Hungarian, Austrian and Turkish, using lard for cooking, and spices such as black pepper, paprika, and garlic.
  • The coastal region bears the influences of the Greek, Roman and Illyrian, as well as of the later Mediterranean cuisine – Italian (especially Venetian) and French, using olive oil, and herbs and spices such as rosemary, sage, bay leaf, oregano, marjoram, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, lemon and orange rind.

Peasant cooking traditions are based on imaginative variations of several basic ingredients (cereals, dairy products, meat, fish, vegetables) and cooking procedures (stewing, grilling, roasting, baking), while bourgeois cuisine involves more complicated procedures and use of selected herbs and spices. Charcuterie is part of Croatian tradition in all regions. Food and recipes from other former Yugoslav countries are also popular in Croatia.

Croatian cuisine can be divided into a few regional cuisines (Istria, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Lika, Gorski Kotar, Zagorje, Međimurje, Podravina, Slavonija) which all have their specific cooking traditions, characteristic for the area and not necessarily well known in other parts of Croatia. Most dishes, however, can be found all across the country, with local variants.

Meat and Game

  • Specialities from the grill are called s roštilja, those roasted on the spit s ražnja
  • pečeno means roasted
  • prženo means fried
  • pod pekom means that the dish has been put into a stone oven under a metal cover. The cook puts hot coals on the cover so that the meal is cooked slowly in its own juices. Specialties cooked pod pekom include lamb, veal, and octopus.

Croatian meat-based dishes include:

  • Roasted pheasant
  • Mješano meso or Ražnjići (skewers)
  • Zagrebački odrezak (Veal steaks stuffed with ham and cheese and grilled with breadcrumbs)
  • Šnitzle (schnitzel) breaded veal or chicken cutlets
  • Janjetina – roasted lamb garnished with Mediterranean herbs
  • Odojak – roasted pork
  • Meso z tiblice pork ham from Međimurje County
  • Fresh game from Dalmatia
  • Visovačka begavica
  • Turkey with mlinci (flat, sour dumplings)
  • Kaninchenbraten
  • Leg of lamb à la Pašticada (rolled pieces of Pršut in white wine sauce)
  • Leg of venison the count’s way
  • Wild duck with sauce
  • Kotlovina from Samobor (kettle with knuckle of pork and other meat and sausages)
  • Boiled fillet of beef haunch with Sauerkraut
  • Escalope à la Baron Trenk (spicy-rolled Schnitzel)
  • Međimurje Goose (stuffed with buckwheat)
  • Turopolje Goose (with corn semolina as a side dish)
  • Purgerica Turkey (Christmas dish from the bordering region to Zagreb, turkey filled with chestnuts, apples, bacon, lemons, etc.)
  • Krvavice, or čurke, blood sausages, made of blood and kaša
  • Hladetina, a particular type of head cheese
  • Brački vitalac

Seafood

Croatian seafood dishes include:

  • Squids – Croatian: lignje, Italian: calamari, grilled, fried or stuffed
  • Octopus salad – Croatian: salata od hobotnice
  • Cuttlefish risotto – Croatian: Crni rižot, Italian: Risotto nero
  • Tuna
  • Shrimps – Croatian: škampi, Italian: scampi
  • Common mussels – Croatian: dagnje
  • Salted Cod with potatoes – Croatian bakalar na bijelo (Dubrovnik, Dalmatia and Istria)
  • Fish stew – Croatian brodet or brudet (Dubrovnik and Dalmatia), Italian brodetto
  • Clams
  • Sea spider salad
  • Breaded catfish or carp
  • Grilled sardines or other fish (na gradele)
  • Buzara or Buzzara (shellfish sautéed in garlic, olive oil, parsley & white wine)
  • Date shells or prstaci are part of the traditional cuisine, but in the 20th century their extraction was banned as a measure of ecological protection

Stews

  • Goulash (Croatian: gulaš, see also Hungarian gulyás)
  • Grah – bean stew (often done as ‘grah sa zeljem’ – with sauerkraut, or ‘grah sa kiselom repom’ – with pickled turnip strings)
  • Varivo od mahuna – green beans stew
  • Riblji paprikaš – also called fiš-paprikaš (spicy fish stew from Slavonia, see also Hungarian halászlé)
  • Slavonska riblja čorba (fish stew from Slavonia)
  • Brudet (or Brodet) – fish stew
  • Chicken stew
  • Rabbit goulash
  • Ričet
  • Istrian stew (Jota)
  • Game Čobanac (Shepherd’s Stew)
  • Feines Venison goulash with prunes
  • Hunter’s stew
  • Wine goulash
  • Sauerkraut stew
  • Zelena menestra – traditional cabbage and meat dish – Dubrovnik and surrounding area
  • Pašticada – Dalmatian beef stew with prunes and dried figs
  • Tripe stew (tripice, fileki)

 

Pasta

Pasta is one of the most popular food items in Croatian cuisine, especially in the region of Dalmatia. The so-called manistra na pome = pasta with tomato sauce is a staple. The other popular sauces include creamy mushroom sauce, minced meat sauce and many others. Also, potato dough is popular, not only for making njoki (gnocchi), but also for making plum or cheese dumplings which are boiled, and then fried in breadcrumbs and butter.

  • Žganci – cornmeal dish in Slovenian and Northern Croatian cuisine, also known as Polenta (palenta, pura) in Istria and Dalmatia
  • Gnocchi, often served with Pašticada or goulash.
  • Fuži is a sort of pasta from Istria.
  • Needle macaroni
  • štrukli – baked or cooked filled pastry from Zagorje, Zagreb area.
  • Krpice sa zeljem – pasta with stewed cabbage
  • Šporki makaruli – traditional pasta with cinnamon flavoured meat sauce, from Dubrovnik and surrounding area

Soups

Soup is an integral part of a meal in Croatia and no Sunday family meal or any special occasion will go without it. The most popular soups are broth based, with added pasta or semolina dumplings. They are usually light in order to leave space for the main course and dessert to follow. However, cream or roux based soups are also popular, and there are many local variations of traditional soups. In Dalmatia, one of the most loved ones is the fish soup with fish chunks, carrots and rice.

  • Chorba od Janjetina (Lamb Vegetable Soup) – made with lamb shanks or meaty lamb bones and the classic Mediterranean trio of green capsicums, onions and tomatoes and then creamed.
  • Maneštra
  • Veal soup with smoked meat
  • Vegeta seasoned broth
  • Beef broth with vermicelli pasta
  • Ajngemahtec – Zagreb chicken and vegetable soup
  • Mushroom soup, especially with porcini
  • Dill soup
  • Zagorska juha with porcini mushrooms, bacon, sweet pepper

Sweets and Desserts

  • Palačinke (crepes) with sweet filling (Hungarian: palacsinta)
  • Baklava
  • Kremšnita – cream slice
  • Šaumšnita – meringue cream slice
  • Zagorski štrukli – sweet pastry from northern Croatia
  • Uštipci
  • Fritule
  • Knedle – potato dough dumplings, usually filled with plums and rolled into buttered breadcrumbs, with cinnamon
  • Strudel (Croatian: savijača or štrudla) with apple or curd cheese fillings
  • Orahnjača and Makovnjača – sweet breads with walnut or poppy seeds
  • Croatian honey
  • Bear’s paw
  • Farmer’s cheese (quark) cakes (cream cake)
  • Krafne ( pokladnice ) – a type of doughnut
  • Croatian pancakes (with wine and egg sauce)
  • ušljivac, deran, badavdžija (long plaited bun)
  • Šnenokli (meringue in custard cream, floating island (dessert))
  • Almond filled ravioli (rafioli)
  • Homemade fruit preserves, jams, compotes
  • Čupavci (lamingtons)

Cakes (kolači)

  • Rožata or Rozata (flan, creme caramel)
  • Easter pastry Pinca
  • Kroštule (crunchy, deep-fried pastry)
  • Fritule(deep-fried dough, festive pastry, particularly for Christmas)
  • Bishop’s bread
  • Guglhupf ring cake (Croatian kuglof)
  • Rapska torta (Rab cake)
  • Međimurska gibanica (Međimurje County layer cake with apple, poppyseed, walnut and cottage cheese fillings)

Other Dishes

  • Sataraš (sliced and stewed summer vegetables)
  • Mlinci (typical northwest Croatian, roasted flatbread, similar to Caucasian flatbreads)
  • Đuveč (baked summer vegetables, similar to Ratatouille)
  • Šalša od pomidora (tomato salsa)
  • Restani krumpir (cooked potato fried with onion)
  • Blitva s krumpirom (cooked chard and potato, with olive oil and garlic)
  • Zagrebački odrezak or Wiener Schnitzel – escalope stuffed with ham and cheese
  • Punjena paprika – peppers filled with minced meat (Hungarian: töltött paprika)
  • Sarma – Sauerkraut rolls filed with minced pork meat and rice
  • Arambašići from Sinj – similar to Sarma, but with ground beef and with no rice
  • Lepinje – flat bread
  • Potatoes from the region of Lika (Lički krumpir) – high quality, large, red potatoes
  • Sauerkraut from the Varaždin region
  • Cabbage (zelje) from the region of Zagreb
  • Artichokes with peas or broad beans
  • Fritaja with asparagus
  • Gorski kotar filling (pieces of ham with eggs and bread)
  • Žganci (with milk, Polenta)
  • Čvarci
  • Duvanska pita – thin phyllo dough wraps filled with tobacco leaves
  • Wild truffles with pasta
  • Croatian olive oil (Maslinovo ulje)
  • Paški baškotin – aromatic zwieback (rusk) from the Island of Pag

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