Consider this article your official invitation to experience the heart and soul of Bulgarian culture: the delicious food!

Food in Bulgaria celebrates flavors, emphasizing hearty meals, meats, and dairy products. Once you savor the traditional dishes, their unique tastes linger in your memory, making the experience unforgettable.

Whether you’re biting into a juicy Kyufte, savoring a refreshing Shopska Salad, or indulging in the flaky goodness of Banitza, each dish tells a tale of tradition and love for local ingredients. What’s not to love? It’s not just about the food; it’s a vibe, a communal celebration of life, and good times. 

In this article, we will delve into the culinary delights of Bulgaria by exploring five of the easiest and tastiest recipes that bring the authentic Balkan spirit to your home.

Here are five Bulgarian dishes that you can easily cook at home:

Kyopoolu 

A traditional Bulgarian roasted vegetable spread or dip. It is typically made with roasted eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, and sometimes garlic. These vegetables are grilled or roasted, minced or pureed, and mixed with herbs, spices, and olive oil. Kyopolou is known for its smoky flavor and is often served as a spread on bread, dip, or as part of a mezze platter. 

It’s a popular dish in Bulgarian cuisine, appreciated for its rich taste and versatility.

Ingredients

– 3 large eggplants (about 750g), washed

– 3 red sweet peppers

– 2 sweet tomatoes, peeled

– 1 cup walnuts, crushed

– 4 cloves garlic, pressed

– Fresh parsley, finely chopped

– 3 tbsp red wine vinegar

– 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– Salt to taste

– 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

– Pinch of sweet paprika

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Eggplants and Sweet Peppers

Wash eggplants and peppers thoroughly.

Grill on a barbecue until skin is charred or roasted in the oven.

Peel skins, remove sticky bits, and mince coarsely.

Step 2: Prepare the Rest of the Ingredients

Wash and peel tomatoes, then dice or mince in a food processor.

Press garlic and cut parsley finely.

Crush walnuts in a mortar or chop them into small pieces.

Add all ingredients to minced peppers and eggplants.

Step 3: Make the Dressing

In a small bowl, pour vinegar and add olive oil gradually, whisking continuously.

Sprinkle salt and sweet paprika and whisk until integrated.

How to serve it?

– As an appetizer or part of a mezze platter.

– Spread on fresh bread or make canapes.

– Enjoy with grilled meat and Bulgarian brandy rakia.

– Keep refrigerated and consume within a few days or transfer to sterilized jars.

Tarator Soup 

Tarator is a traditional Bulgarian cold soup made with yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, and dill. It’s a refreshing dish, perfect for lunch or dinner, especially on hot summer days.

Ingredients

– 2 cucumbers, peeled and grated

– 500g Bulgarian yogurt

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

– 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

– 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– 2 tbsp white wine vinegar

– Salt and pepper to taste

– 500ml cold water

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Cucumbers

Peel and grate the cucumbers into a bowl.

Step 2: Mix Yogurt and Cucumbers

In a large bowl, combine grated cucumbers and Bulgarian yogurt. Add minced garlic, chopped walnuts, and fresh dill.

Step 3: Prepare the Dressing

Whisk together olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl. Pour the dressing over the yogurt-cucumber mixture.

Step 4: Adjust Consistency

Gradually add cold water until you reach your desired consistency. Stir well to combine.

Step 5: Chill and Serve

Refrigerate the tarator for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld. Before serving, check and adjust seasoning if needed.

Step 6: Garnish and Enjoy

Serve chilled, garnished with additional dill and a drizzle of olive oil.

How to enjoy it?

Tarator can be served as a cold soup or a refreshing side dish. It is perfect for summer gatherings or as a light and healthy appetizer, as well as a great pair for meat dishes. 

Kyufte 

Kyufte (also spelled as kyufteta or кюфтета in Bulgarian) refers to Bulgarian meatballs or patties made with minced meat, typically a combination of beef and pork. These meatballs are a popular part of Bulgarian cuisine, enjoyed as a main dish or as a meze platter. They are versatile and can be served with various accompaniments, such as salads, bread, or sauces.

Ingredients

– 500g mixture of beef and fatty pork (40% beef, 60% pork)

– 1 onion, diced

– 2 cloves garlic, diced

– 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

– 1 tsp cumin

– 1 tsp sweet paprika

– 1/2 tsp savory

– Salt to taste

– Lemon juice for brushing

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Meat for the Kyufte

Dice onion and garlic; chop fresh parsley. Mix spices and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, break lumps of meat, add spices, onion, garlic, and parsley, and mix until evenly distributed.

Step 2: Chill the Spiced Meat in the Fridge

Leave the mixture in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to stiffen. Shape the meatballs.

Step 3: Shape the Meatballs

Roll spiced meat between palms into medium-sized patties. Keep hands moist with cold water to prevent sticking—place shaped meat patties on a flat tray.

Step 4: Grill the Kyufte

Mix lemon juice and water in a small bowl for brushing. Brush meatballs with lemon water to prevent sticking. On each side, cook on a medium-hot grill for 4-5 minutes and serve.

How to enjoy this dish?

Complement with fresh salads, vegetable relishes, and crunchy chips.

Perfect with sautéed potatoes or as a hearty meal on its own.

Banitsa

Banitsa is a traditional Bulgarian pastry that is a beloved part of Bulgarian cuisine. Even though it’s a to–go snack, they love it so much they made it a part of their New Year’s traditions! A baked dish made with layers of thin filo pastry, similar to phyllo dough, and typically filled with a mixture of eggs, feta cheese, and yogurt. Depending on regional variations and personal preferences, the filling may also include other ingredients like spinach, leeks, or even pumpkin.

Ingredients

– 10 sheets of phyllo dough

– 200g feta cheese, crumbled

– 3 eggs

– 45g plain yogurt

– 55g melted butter

– 30ml sparkling water

– Salt to taste

– Sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Filling

In a bowl, mix crumbled feta, beaten eggs, and yogurt. Add a pinch of salt and combine well.

Step 2: Assemble the Banitsa

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Brush a baking dish with melted butter. Place a sheet of phyllo dough, brush with butter, and repeat for five sheets.

Step 3: Add the Filling

Spread half of the feta mixture evenly over the phyllo layers—layer three more sheets, brushing each with butter.

Step 4: Complete the Layers

Add the remaining feta mixture. Top with the last two sheets, brushing each with butter.

Step 5: Bake and Garnish

Mix sparkling water with any remaining butter and pour over the top. Sprinkle sesame seeds for a crunchy finish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

How to serve it?

Allow Banitsa to cool slightly before slicing. Serve warm and enjoy this delicious Bulgarian pastry!

Shopska salad

It is a refreshing and colorful salad made with simple and fresh ingredients. The key components of Shopska salad typically include diced tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and finely chopped red onions. The salad is generously topped with crumbled feta cheese and often garnished with fresh parsley.

Ingredients

– 4 large tomatoes (about 400g)

– 1 cucumber diced

– 1 red bell pepper (about 200g)

– 1 red onion

– 200g feta cheese, crumbled

– 60ml extra virgin olive oil

– 2 tbsp red wine vinegar

– Salt and black pepper to taste

– Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare Vegetables

Wash and dice tomatoes, cucumber, and red bell pepper. Finely chop the red onion.

Step 2: Assemble Salad

Combine diced tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, and chopped red onion in a large bowl.

Step 3: Crumble feta cheese over the vegetables.

Step 4: Dress, Toss, and Garnish

Whisk together olive oil and red wine vinegar in a small bowl—season with salt and black pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss to coat evenly. Garnish with fresh parsley.

How to enjoy it?

Serve immediately as a refreshing side dish or a light meal. 

Roaming through Bulgaria is a sensory delight that lingers long after your visit. But fear not; you can summon that vibrant Balkan spirit straight to your kitchen! These recipes are like a cozy teleportation device, whisking you away to the lively streets of Bulgaria with each bite. So, why not spice up your routine and embark on a taste adventure? Dive into Kyufte, Tarator, Banitsa, and Shopska Salad – your ticket to a virtual Bulgarian getaway.