What to eat in Croatia?
Croatian cuisine has various nuances, whether related to fish due to its immense crystal-clear Adriatic Sea, but also to culture due to the inland greenery, with Slovenian, Austrian, Serbian, and Turkish influences. From meat dishes like Pašticada, to fish soups like Brudet, to fresh cheeses and so on. Don't stay on an empty stomach during your trip and enjoy the local specialties to get your taste buds in touch with the country. So, let's embark on this culinary journey together!
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Sir I Prsut
Homemade bread served with the fine, thin, smoked Dalmatian ham and sheep's cheese Sir is one of the symbols of Croatian cuisine. An unmissable starter with a delicious cut or as a snack for a delicious break.
Also known as black rice, this is cuttlefish in krice characteristic of Istria. Which every restaurant you go to, this dish is omnipresent. Tasty, delicate, and super summery, it is mostly eaten during the Christmas holidays. But why not try it during your trip to some little restaurant by the sea while listening to the sound of the waves?
Janjetina s bižima
Lamb meat with green peas as the main ingredients of this simple dish. Chopped lamb is added to oil and butter with onions, carrots, garlic, tomato sauce, and parsley. The result is a soft, delicate dish, perfect for those who love wholesome dishes.
Škampi na Buzara
The passion for food derived from the sea is a distinctive feature of Croatia, just think of dishes such as Škampi, dagnje, Lignje, and ribaradele. These include Škampi na Buzara (shrimp stew), which can be “nabijelo” or “nacrveno”, depending on the white or red color of its sauce. Its name comes from 'little lie' or from the pan in which langoustines were prepared on ships with garlic, oil, wine, and tomato.
Derived from Italian influence being on the border, in Croatia, you can taste many specialties related to pasta culture. One of these is Šporki Makaruli, which seems to be reminiscent of Italian macaroni. It is a homemade pasta dish topped with sauce and meat sauce. It is traditionally enjoyed mainly in Dubrovnik, where it was prepared during the feast of St Blaise, the city's patron saint. The word Šporkial refers to the Italian word meaning dirty to indicate the main peasant seasoning. Consider that this dish could soon become a UNESCO heritage site, so you absolutely must try it! If you are a fan of this type of meal, we can also recommend that you try the Pjukancitypical of Istria.
Typical of the city of Dubrovnik, its appearance and gelatinous consistency will remind you of creme caramel. Prepared with milk, eggs, and caster sugar, it is topped with what is known as rozulin (rosolio), a highly prized rose liqueur that gives it that snowy pink color. Delicious and fresh for the end of your meal.
A traditional Dalmatian sweet, it is similar to the nougat enjoyed in Italy, prepared with almonds and honey, sugar, and egg whites, kneaded and mixed to create a soft, elastic mixture which is then hardened by baking for a few hours. Surely, it’s an irresistible sweetness that can be enjoyed as a dessert or as a snack.
Following the Easter tradition, this cake accompanies any Easter meal of Croatian families and is given to guests as a token of good luck. It is a small cake that is filled with ingredients until it becomes as sweet as a cake. The ingredients are sultanas, rum, vanilla sugar, mixed candied fruit, and lemon peel. Surely at the first bite, you will notice how fragrant it is thanks to the fruit and vanilla that makes it heavenly and fluffy as a cloud.
Fluffy, delicious doughnut-like, and tasting almost like a churro, this sweet is truly a delicacy for the palate. Very popular in Istria and Dalmatia and becoming widely consumed in the capital, it is prepared very frequently during the Christmas season and sold at any Christmas stalls. You can fill it any way you like, with vanilla, chocolate, candied sultanas, caramel, and even in preparation they can acquire flavors such as grated orange peel, yogurt, cinnamon, Maraschino liqueur, and so on. You won't stop eating them because, being as small as nibbles, you will always want more.
Prepared from dried figs from trees on the Dalmatian coast to which almonds, a little homemade brandy, and perhaps some herbs are added. Simple and healthy to enjoy in the middle of summer when the figs are juicy, which goes perfectly with brandy. Sometimes it seems to be associated with an energy bar because of its appearance but especially because of its fig-related properties.
Considered a national drink, it’s consumed during hors d'oeuvres accompanied by cheeses and cold cuts. It is a fermented brandy made from fruit. The most popular in Croatia is the herb-based one called travarica or Loza (with grapes), or sljivovica (with cherries) but you can find it in many different flavors such as walnuts, honey, figs, plums, and pears. Depending also on the region the tastes are different, for example, if you travel to Istria the most popular is honey or mistletoe while in Dubrovnik it is aniseed, and in Dalmatia with walnuts.
Another type of liqueur that is truly typical of the Dalmatia region, particularly Zadar, is maraschino. It has a strong flavor of the sour cherry called marasca, from which it derives its name. The story goes that Girolamo Luxardo's wife used to make this delicious liqueur until he decided to start a company to market it himself, noticing how enthusiastic people were about this drink. In the past, it was sold in hand-wrapped bottles, and today it is also used in the preparation of traditional desserts, imparting the sweetness of sour cherries.
Croatia has several types of grapes that enable the production of very tasty wines in vineyards scattered throughout Croatia. Among the most famous are Pošip a white wine with a ripe, dry, and smooth taste that is said to have been brought to Croatia from the East by sailors, Graševina a pleasantly dry and fresh white wine with notes of honey and apple, Plavac Mali whose name means little blue in reference to the color of the berries used to make it, and Babić a red wine with notes of red fruits.
This is the end of our article on typical food in Croatia. Discover more culinary traditions on our blog in the different destinations like Food & Drink in Greece, Food & Drink in Turkey, and Food & Drink in Slovenia. Read about Croatian destinations in the article about Dubrovnik, Split, and Zagreb, and follow @thewalkingparrot to be alert when a new article comes out.