Croatian Cuisine is very diverse, reflecting the various cultures and empires that have influenced the country in the past centuries.
Along the coastline, the cuisine sharply resembles Italian–style cuisine and flavours, while in the Continental inland regions you’ll find Austro – Hungarian and even Turkish cuisine further towards the Bosnian border. Each region has its own particular specialty, and I can guarantee wherever you go you’ll be surprised by the high-quality food made and prepared from fresh and seasonal products. In all my years spent travelling around Croatia, I have found it hard to experience a really bad meal!
Around the Capital, Zagreb and north-western Croatia, hearty meat dishes are favoured. Spit roasted Lamb, while pork and duck are also firm favourites, and often accompanied by ‘mlinci’ (baked noodles) or roast potatoes. Turkey with mlinci is probably the most traditional dish in the Zagreb area, and also Steak a la Zagreb is very popular..(veal stuffed with ham and cheese) and coated with breadcrumbs and fried to golden brown.. the Hungarian influence in this region adds some wonderful goulash dishes, rich and flavoursome, and not forgetting the thin pancakes (palačinke) filled with locally made plum jam or chocolate..some prefer lemon juice sprinkled with sugar.
In eastern Slavonia near the Hungarian border, the cuisine becomes spicier than other regions..garlic and paprika are used very liberally. The river Drava, provides fresh fish, mostly carp and pike. A dish called Fish Paprikaš is one of the specialties of this region..the fish is simmered slowly in a paprika sauce and served with noodles. The regions hand-made sausages are also a speciality, particularly kulen, a paprika flavoured sausage served with fresh cottage cheese, peppers, tomatoes, and pickled vegetables. Delicious desserts stuffed with walnuts, poppy seeds, and homemade plum jam are always popular.
Coastal cuisine from Istria to southern Dalmatia is typically the Mediterranean, using a lot of olive oil, garlic, fish, wine and herbs and anything from the sea! The typical Dalmatian cuisine has not changed for centuries and the best Dalmatian cuisine remains simple, without too much fuss.
Top seafood favourites are fish, crabs, lobsters, mussels, octopi, cuttlefish, sardines, oysters, and everything else from the Adriatic sea. There are many ways to prepare them but grilling remains the most popular. (It is very important to have particular woods to create the coals..lending particular flavours to the fish.) with gregarda, brodetto or na buzera which involves several ingredients in the same pot (usually olive oil, white wine, parsley, fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic) as the other most popular ways of preparing seafood.
There are a few cooking rules in this region, yet one of the most popular and most healthy ways of cooking is ‘na lešo’(Boiled foods) Cooked or lightly simmered John Dory is preferred by many Dalmatian chefs rather than grilled, and the same with lamb.
Pag Cheeses and dry-cured ham. Pag sheep cheese is the most best known Croatian Cheese and is often served with dry-cured ham as a starter. The Gligora Sheep’s cheese from Island Pag has won many international gold medals over the past few years.
Pašticada is a beef dish, stuffed with ham, garlic, and cloves then marinated in red wine and vinegar. The beef and juices are slowly simmered with the juices and vegetables..resulting in a very rich sauce and served with hand-made gnocchi.
Peka ..elementary and tasty. Dalmatian lamb is often prepared on the spit in the Dalmatian hinterland. It can also be prepared under the lid of the peka pan. A cast-iron dome is placed over coals to slow roast lamb or veal, with potatoes and some vegetables. Octopus and certain fish are also prepared this way.
Pogača Bread from Island Vis and Soparnik from the Omiš Cetina River Hinterland are becoming widely known as firm favourites with many visitors to Dalmatia. Try Pogača Bread from Island Vis with a fish filling..either as a main course or a quick bite.
Soparnik is a sometimes called the ‘Croatian pizza’ This famous dish resembles a huge pizza in some aspects. The dough is spread out on the table then filled with Swiss Chard ( similar to English spinach) onion, garlic and olive oil, covered with another thin layer of dough, rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and then baked on and under hot coals…so delicious.
Fritule or Rozata? Fritule are small sized doughnuts and have a distinct flavour thanks to sultanas, a dash of Grappa or lemon rind, added to the dough. Rozata is a sweet cooked cream similar to a crème caramel served with caramelized sugar. A specialty of the Dubrovnik region, with the unique flavour of added, rose liqueur known as rozolin..hence the name ‘rozata’
Dalmatian ‘Fast Food’ Sardines on the grill or fried, swiss chard drizzled with olive oil and finely chopped garlic pepper and salt..this is Dalmatian fast food! Fast and super healthy!
Seriously good fast food!!!!