Bulgarian food is very tasty indeed, maybe because it has so many influences from the Arabic, Turkish, Greek and Western European cuisines.
Soups are very popular in Bulgaria; there’s no lunch without soup. In summer, the most popular is a cold soup called ‘tarator’, prepared from yoghurt, water, cucumber, garlic, dill, nuts and a pinch of salt. Tourists also find it very refreshing.
For the rest of the year, there are:
1) ‘zeleva chorba’ (a kind of cabbage soup with fat meat, rice and pepper and a rather sour taste which makes it unpopular with foreigners); ‘agneshka kurban chorba’ (of Turkish origin, boiled mutton soup);
2) ‘shkembe’ (the most popular soup in the country, consisting of tripe, milk, water and spices; it is very a very good medicine for hangovers and must be consumed with chilly red pepper, garlic and vinegar).
Main courses bear the same weird names and are even tastier than the soups.
‘Sarmi lozovlist’ and ‘zelevi sarmi’ both consist of a mixture of minced meat and rice rolled in leaves – grape wine leaves for the former and sauerkraut leaves for the latter. They are sometimes cooked without meat!
Brought to Bulgaria centuries ago, ‘musaka’ is a dish of Greek origin. It is usually cooked from potatoes and minced meat but sometimes eggplants are used as a substitute for potatoes. There is also a vegetarian option available.
‘Kavarma’ is an aromatic combination of meat (beef, pork or lamb), chicken or fish, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, carrots, pepper etc. It is served very hot in a clay pot.
‘Giuveche’, also cooked and served in a hot pot, contains meat or sausages, vegetables, cheese and eggs. You should not order it if you are too hungry as it takes a long time to cook.
The traditional Bulgarian salad is made of tomatoes, fresh cucumbers and cheese, sometimes also onion, peppers, olives and parsley. It is very tasty as the Bulgarian vegetables are grown naturally, without fertilizers which makes them a lot juicier than they are in western countries.
A very pleasant culinary adventure is a Bulgarian appetizer made of cheese, honey and basil. It may sound strange but its taste is amazing. Usually a bit of garlic is added for those who like it.
‘Kiufte’ is a traditional meatball prepared from minced meat with local spices. In Bulgaria it is consumed as a main course with salad, chips, pickles or other garnish. It is prepared in a frying pan but it may also be cooked with sauce as stew or as a soup with pasta or potatoes.
Among desserts, the most popular in the area are: ‘halva’ (milled cereals or seeds, oils and nuts), ‘lokum’ (a soft sticky sweet rolled in sugar), ‘baklava’ (a very sweet pastry with syrup and walnut filling, of Turkish or Arabian origin).
There is a choice of western European food in most restaurants of the capital city but a tourist to Bulgarien had better try the local cuisine. The food is too tasty to miss; besides, most of the courses are not difficult to prepare at home and if you find something exceedingly tasty you might ask for the recipe and try cooking it when you get home. The chef will be delighted to give it to you along with a couple of tips for cooking.