Belgrade (Serbie)

Traditional South Serbian cookbook

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Le meilleur et le plus beau des livre de recettes serbes, le tout en anglais ! Voilà ce que sont en train de nous concocter Marija Janković et Gordana Ristić. Pour participer à cette aventure et financer cet ouvrage, rendez-vous à cette adresse :

One day, over a cup of Turkish coffee, we started remembering the old forgotten dishes which we used to eat in our childhood. It turned out we recognized the same dishes, sometimes with different names. Gordana comes from the South Serbian town of Vranje, and Marija has some Kosovan roots. With shared memories of "podvarak" (baked sauerkraut), "kapama" (lamb and spinach soup), "jania" (homemade pastry and chicken soup) and "baklava" (filo pastry stuffed with chopped nuts and drenched in syrup or honey), we came up with the idea to revive and preserve those archaic dishes that have almost disappeared. At that moment we decided to start collecting recipes from our grand-mothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, friends and experienced housewives. We got into an adventure of cooking and photographing these ancient dishes with the final goal of publishing a book. All with an aim to treasure the dishes for the next generations and for the world to get to know them.

The money pledged will be used for the design, translation and print of the book. A number of people have already volunteered in the preparation of the book by inspiring us with recipes suggestions, cooking and eating with us, proofreading, photographing and filming the footage.

Although we were average cooks, the level of our culinary skills has been improving a lot during this journey and we had an impression that we were attending cooking school. The additional motivation we gained when we realized that most of our peers (late ‘30s / early ‘40s) and people younger than us do not know most of these dishes and recognize only ‘sarma’(sauerkraut rolls), ‘pljeskavica’(burger) and ‘cevapi’ (local kebab) as traditional Serbian cuisine. Likewise, the restaurants and taverns rarely offer these ancient dishes on their menus. Our numerous friends from several towns and countries whom we were hosting at tastings during our work were truly delighted by the flavors and colors of these dishes.

Gordana comes from a family that has raised a few pastry bakers, specialising in the finest Turkish and Central European pastries. The way her grand-mothers were baking fascinated her and she decided to roll up her sleeves, take the rolling pin and start learning to bake in order to preserve this remarkable skill.

Marija Janković et Gordana Ristić
©Dalibor Danilović

This traditional cookbook of South Serbia is aimed at those who want to know the gastronomy of this region better, no matter if they are tourists, curious foreigners, people from diaspora all around the world, experienced housewives, or young people who dare try something new. The food in this Serbian region is influenced by Turkish, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek and Central-European cuisines. In the past, people in South Serbia used to adapt their eating habits to the seasons and to religious fasting. Owing to these shared influences, most of the dishes in the cook book are similar to dishes from all around the Balkans.

This cookbook has 90 dishes from towns of Vranje, Leskovac, Niš, Pirot and the wider region of South Serbia. It contains many almost forgotten dishes like "kapama", "jania", "kasapski djuvec", "tarana", "propec", "mekice", "popara" or "mafisi". The dishes are presented in an easy-to-cook way starting from fresh ingredients found on the local markets and in peoples gardens. Some dishes go together with specific customs, usually religious holidays. The most interesting customs will be described together with those dishes.

The book is bilingual, Serbian and English. Our book has 90 recipes of colorful and tasteful dishes of which 33 vegan and 30 vegetarian. With your support the first edition will be printed in 1000 copies and published in June 2015. The modern visual design of the book makes it an ideal gift for any occasion. In this way we want to promote the gastronomic tradition of South Serbia which we feel is under-represented.

In the end, we want to say that this creative gastronomic adventure was a time of great joy and happiness for us and we would be very happy if we could share our experiences with others.

CONTENT :

SALADS/ STARTERS
For the majority of people across the South Balkans, starter or “meze” is the most favorite part of the meal. It can be served to the guests that came for a short visit, or in a local tavern, so called “kafana”, along with “rakija”, and it often leads to an extravagant lunch. “Meze” usually consists of various salads prepared of raw vegetables. Cool and warm vegetable or meat starters, as well as hard cheese are also served as “meze” along with the salads.

SOUPS/STEWS
Soups and slow cooked stews are quite common on the menu and are usually consumed before the main course with some bread and salad. Clear soups are rare, the most common of which is chicken soup with noodles or dumplings.

COOKED DISHES
Lunch is the main meal. It includes vegetable dishes, often slow cooked for several hours : stuffed peppers, dry or raw, as well as cabbage rolls, rice and beans dishes. There are fewer meat dishes and unlike the other regions of Serbia where the pork meat is generally used, the southern menu has to offer a number of lamb dishes.

MEAT DISHES
"Leskovacki rostijl" is the most famous grill in the Balkans. The way of preparing it is kept as a secret even today by the Leskovac people. Some say that the trick is in freezing the mixed minced meat which includes intestines. Some add the baking soda or ground pickled cucumbers, and there is also a theory on meat that spoils before grilling.

PASTRY AND PIES
In the past, women used to bake bread out of the unused flour ("mekice"). Pie is the most common delicacy and it’s made of the filo pastry spread with a thin rolling pin. It originates from Turkey and Middle East. "Zeljanik" pie is stuffed with pickled cabbage or leek, eggs and cheese, spinach, nettle... Sweet pumpkins, apples, nuts or cherries pies are nonetheless favorite. "Burek" is a savory kind of pie for which the pastry is made by waving it above the head. Hope you will have some fun with this !

SWEETS
The guests in the house used to be welcomed with a spoonfull of "Slatko" (Preserved fruits) and a glass of water on a serving plate. "Slatko" are cooked in the south of Serbia, as well as in Macedonia, Greece or Turkey. "Baklava", "halva" or "sutlijaš" (rice pudding) come from Turkey.