Archives December 2021

Uzbek Food: 12 Traditional Dishes to Look For in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is somewhat of an enigma. Not as many travelers visit Central Asia so Uzbekistan and its wonders remain a mystery to many people.

But that hasn’t always been the case. There was a time when this double-landlocked nation was one of the most visited regions in the world. Thanks to its strategic position along the Silk Road, travelers and traders would go through Uzbekistan in droves, leading to cities like Samarkand and Bukhara amassing considerable wealth and power.

The Silk Road’s impact on Uzbekistan is clearly evident in the country’s jaw-dropping Islamic architecture. It can also be appreciated in its cuisine. Uzbek food is an intriguing blend of influences, shaped through the centuries by its neighbors and the many traders traveling along the Silk Road.

Food is always a fantastic way to experience the local culture. The architecture in Uzbekistan is one of the country’s biggest draws but as this list of tasty Uzbek dishes will show you, so is the food.

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Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country in Central Asia. It’s bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to the south, and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the east. Tashkent is its capital and largest city while Samarkand and Bukhara are two of its most popular destinations.

Aside from its position along the Silk Road, it was interesting to learn that Uzbekistan is one of just two double-landlocked countries in the world. A double-landlocked country is a country that’s bordered on all sides by other landlocked countries. Liechtenstein is the other.


Uzbekistan shares many dishes and culinary traditions with its neighbors in Central Asia.

Freshly butchered meat and locally-grown vegetables feature prominently in the diet of local Uzbek people. Thanks to the abundance of sheep, mutton and lamb are among the most widely consumed meats. They make their way into many Uzbek recipes though beef, goat, poultry, camel, and horse meat are also common.

Being a grain-farming country, rice, noodles, and breads are equally vital to Uzbek culture and cuisine. In fact, plov or Uzbek rice pilaf is the country’s national dish and the most popular food in Uzbekistan.


1. Achichuk

Achichuk is a type of Uzbek salad made with fresh onions, tomatoes, chili pepper, herbs, and seasonings. Often served as a side dish with plov, it’s one of the simplest local salads you can try in Uzbekistan.

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2. Manti

If you’re fond of dumpling dishes, then you need to try manti. It refers to a type of boiled or steamed dumpling popular in many countries throughout Central Asia, the Balkans, and the South Caucasus. Made with ground meat wrapped in thin dough, you can think of it as the Uzbek version of Chinese baozi/jiaozi, Korean mandu, Tibetan momo, or Monoglian buuz.

The size, shape, and fillings for manti can vary from region to region. In Central Asia, they’re usually larger in size and steamed using a multi-level metal steamer called a mantovarka. These large steamed dumplings are typically made with spiced minced meat like ground lamb or beef, lamb fat, potatoes, onions, cabbage, pumpkin, and other vegetables.

In Uzbekistan, manti are enjoyed for lunch or dinner, usually with sour cream, tomato sauce, or fresh sliced onions. Like many Uzbek dishes, they’re traditionally eaten by hand.

Photo by fanfon

3. Samsa

Samsa (or somsa, samosa) refers to a type of savory pastry popular in Central Asian cuisine. You can think of it as the Uzbek version of the Indian samosa and other similar iterations like the Lebanese sambousek and the Moroccan briouat.

Unlike Indian samosas that are deep-fried, samsas in Uzbekistan and Central Asia are traditionally baked in an oven. They’re commonly shaped like triangles and stuffed with a mixture of ground meat (usually lamb, beef, or chicken), tail fat, and spices. Meat samsa is the most common but you can find other versions as well like potato, pumpkin, or onion samsa.

Soft and crunchy on the outside but juicy on the inside, this flaky pastry is a staple breakfast food in Uzbekistan. It’s traditionally eaten for breakfast with tea or as a hot street food snack.

Photo by bbivirys

4. Chuchvara

Chuchvara refers to a traditional dumpling that’s sometimes referred to as the Uzbek version of Russian or Italian ravioli. It’s similar to manti except it’s smaller in size and traditionally boiled in a soup with meat and vegetables.

To make chuchvara, a basic dough is rolled out and cut into smaller squares before being stuffed with a mixture of minced meat (usually lamb or beef), onions, and seasonings. The dumplings are then boiled in broth with fried meat and vegetables. Often served with a sprinkling of fresh dill, you can think of chuchvara as the Uzbek version of Chinese wonton soup.

Photo by bbivirys

Chuchvara dumplings are traditionally served in soup but they can be fried as well. Kovurma chuchvara or fried chuchvara are cooked in hot oil and typically served with a side of sour cream or cold yogurt.

Other types of chuchvara in Uzbekistan include osh kuktli chuchvara and ugra chuchvara. The former is made with a stuffing of finely chopped greens, onions, tail fat, and hard-boiled eggs while the latter consists of classic chuchvara dumplings cooked in a soup with meatballs and noodles.

Photo by bbivirys

5. Shurpa

Shurpa (or shorba, chorba) refers to a family of soups or stews found in the cuisines of many countries throughout Central Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Central/Eastern Europe. They can be made in different ways and typically consist of large chunks of meat cooked in a broth with potatoes, different vegetables, herbs, and spices.

Shurpa is a hugely popular Uzbek soup traditionally made with lamb and thick slices of potato, carrot, onion, tomato, and sweet pepper. It’s seasoned simply with salt and black pepper and often garnished with fresh dill, coriander, or parsley. Served with bread, this rich, thick soup is hearty and filling and one of the most beloved dishes in Uzbek cuisine.

Lamb soup is the most popular but there are many recipes for shurpa in Uzbekistan. It can be cooked in a number of ways and made with different ingredients like chickpeas, fish, or meatballs.

Photo by Sapunovaphoto

6. Lagman

Like plov and shashlik, lagman is one of the most popular Uzbek dishes. Originally from Xinjiang in northwestern China, it refers to a pulled noodle dish that’s become popular in many Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

In Uzbekistan, lagman is typically served in one of two ways – as a hearty noodle stew or as a fried noodle dish. When served as a soup, the hand-stretched noodles are boiled in water and served in a rich broth made with fried meat (usually lamb or beef), garlic, onions, potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, and other vegetables. It’s typically seasoned with cumin seed, salt, and pepper before serving.

Photo by fanfon

Also popular in Uzbekistan is fried lagman. It consists of stir-fried lagman noodles cooked in a vegetable sauce made from garlic, onions, bell peppers, carrots, potatoes, herbs, and other ingredients. It can be served on its own or topped with a fried egg.

Photo by ryzhkov86

7. Shivit Oshi

Shivit oshi is one of the most eye-catching Uzbek dishes on this list. Also known as “khorezm lagman”, it’s a colorful dish of bright green noodles from Khiva, an Uzbek city near the border with Turkmenistan.

Khorezm cuisine differs in many ways from the rest of Uzbekistan. Fresh herbs and vegetables feature more prominently in the diet and the best example of this is shivit oshi. It’s a regional Uzbek dish made with hand-pulled lagman noodles infused with fresh dill, giving them their characteristic bright green coloration.

Mainly a summer dish and served only in Khiva, shivit oshi is must-try food in Uzbekistan. It’s traditionally enjoyed topped with a meat and vegetable stew and a side of sour cream or plain yogurt.

Photo by efesenko

8. Obi Non

Like plov, obi non is one of the most important foods in Uzbekistan. Also known as lepyoshka, it refers to a type of round, flat Uzbek bread baked in a traditional clay oven called a tandyr. You can think of it as the Uzbek version of Indian naan bread, but thicker and adorned with a decorative top.

This ubiquitous homemade bread is eaten with just about anything in Uzbekistan. It can be made in many ways and varies from region to region, even from town to town! It can be plain or enriched with additional ingredients like meat, lamb fat, nuts, sesame seeds, and raisins.

Photo by omnislash

9. Plov

No article on Uzbek food can ever be complete without plov, the country’s national dish. It refers to the Uzbek version of hearty rice pilaf, a widely consumed dish of rice cooked in broth that originated in South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

Plov (or palov) is the most famous dish in Uzbekistan. It’s a socially and culturally important food that Uzbeks are abundantly proud of. Traditionally prepared in a kazan (large cooking pot), plov is commonly made at home as a family meal or in larger quantities to celebrate holidays and special occasions like weddings.

Uzbek plov can be made in dozens of ways, but the most famous version is made with a base of grated and seasoned onions, carrots, and meat sautéed in fat. Rice is added before being topped with water and simmered until the rice is fully cooked. Depending on the cook, different ingredients can be added as well like meat, chickpeas, vegetables, raisins, and fruit.

Photo by fanfon

10. Shashlik

If you like meat dishes, then you need to try shashlik. It’s one of the most popular dishes in Uzbek cuisine and refers to a version of shish kabob that’s consumed in many countries throughout Central Asia, the Caucasus, and in former Soviet Republics like Uzbekistan, Georgia, Armenia, Lithuania, and Ukraine. In fact, the word shashlik stems from shashlyk, the Russian word for “shish kabob”.

Shashlik is traditionally made with lamb but it can be made with other types of meat as well like beef, chicken, and venison. Meat rolls made with ground beef or fatty beef (or lamb) are common, as are skewered and grilled chicken legs. For a truly memorable experience, then you may want to order grilled skewers threaded with horse meat.

Whatever it’s made with, shashlik skewers are typically threaded with just meat or with alternating pieces of meat, fat, mushrooms, and vegetables. If you prefer vegetarian food, then you can order grilled skewers of just potatoes, vegetables, or mushrooms as well.

Photo by rovada

11. Kazan Kabob

As its name suggests, kazan kabob is an Uzbek dish traditionally prepared in a kazan, a large cooking pot commonly used in Central Asian and Balkan cuisines. The kazan is the same pot used to make plov.

Kazan kabob isn’t like your typical kabob dish. It consists of marinated meat like mutton or beef that’s pan-fried first with potatoes before being covered and steamed in a kazan at low heat. When fully cooked and tender, it’s traditionally served with onions and fresh vegetables.

Photo by fanfon

12. Dried Nuts and Fruits

Like many countries in the region, dried nuts and fruits are common in Uzbekistan. They can be found at every food market and make for an interesting snack or healthy dessert. Toasted apricot seeds are especially popular and often paired with beer.

Photo by Curioso_Travel_Photography


As with all our food guides, this article on Uzbek food is a work in progress. It includes some of the most important Uzbek dishes like plov, manti, and obi non, but conspicuously missing are examples of Bukharan Jewish cuisine and Uzbek sweets like khalva and navat.

This article will grow and improve with every update but we do hope it whets your appetite before your next trip to Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Thanks for reading and have an amazing time exploring the architecture and food in Uzbekistan!

Cover photo by Stock images via Depositphotos.

Peruvian Desserts: 15 Traditional Sweets You Need to Try in Peru

Peruvian food is one of the most interesting cuisines not just in South America, but in the world. It combines Spanish, Moorish, African, Japanese, and Chinese influences to create world-famous Peruvian dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado, and pollo a la brasa.

Peru’s plethora of delicious savory dishes makes it arguably the best culinary destination in South America, but equally noteworthy are its desserts. Picarones and alfajores with manjar blanco are a given, but they’re just two of the many popular Peruvian desserts that should be on your list.

If you have a sweet tooth, then check out these fifteen traditional Peruvian desserts on your next visit to Lima and Peru.


If you’re planning a trip to Peru and want to really dive into the cuisine, then you may be interested in going on a food tour or taking a cooking class.


  • Food Tours: Food and Wine/Drinking Tours in Peru
  • Cooking Classes: Cooking Classes in Peru

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1. Mazamorra Morada (Purple Corn Dessert)

If you’re looking for a unique Peruvian dessert, then there’s no better way to start this list than with mazamorra morada or Peruvian purple corn pudding. It refers to a classic Peruvian dessert made with purple corn, fruits, and sweet potato flour.

This purple corn pudding is one of the most popular Peruvian desserts in the country. Known for its deep purple / burgundy color and jelly-like consistency, Peruvian purple corn is what gives the dish its characteristic color and flavor. Morada, in English, means “purple”.

Mazamorra morada is thickened with sweet potato starch (or corn starch) and can be made with different types of fruit like raisins, prunes, peaches, apricot, sour cherries, and pineapple.

Photo by ildi_papp

2. Picarones

Just as popular as mazamorra morada are picarones. It refers to a type of Peruvian doughnut made with sweet potatoes and squash deep-fried in boiling vegetable oil and drenched in chancaca sauce – a syrup made from raw unrefined sugar. It’s one of the most common street food desserts in Peru.

This popular street food snack is said to be derived from buñuelos, a type of Spanish doughnut brought to Peru by the conquistadores. At the time, the ingredients for buñuelos were too expensive so Peruvians substituted them with squash and sweet potato.

Today, picarones is one of the most popular Peruvian desserts. It’s commonly eaten for dessert after snacking on anticuchos, another popular Peruvian street food.

Photo by alexandrelaprise

3. Alfajores

If you’re familiar with South American and Spanish desserts, then alfajores need little introduction. Originally from Spain but popular in many former Spanish colonies like Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela, and the Philippines, it refers to a type of cookie sandwich made with manjar blanco or dulce de leche as its filling.

Depending on where they’re from, alfajores can be made in different ways, shapes, and sizes. The Peruvian version is typically about 1-2 inches wide and made with lots of butter and equal parts white flour and corn starch. The two cookies are held together with a generous amount of manjar blanco and then dusted with powdered sugar before serving.

If you’ve never heard of it, manjar blanco is very similar to dulce de leche – a sweet caramel cream made with thickened milk sweetened with sugar.

Photo by ildi_papp

4. Lucuma Ice Cream

If you like exotic fruits, then you need to try Peruvian desserts made with lucuma. It refers to an Andean Valley fruit native to Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador.

Lucuma has a unique flavor reminiscent of sweet potato, butterscotch, or maple syrup. However, it’s a bit mealy and dry in texture when eaten raw, so it’s typically used as a flavoring agent in Peruvian desserts and drinks. One of the most popular is helado de lúcuma or lucuma ice cream.

Lucuma ice cream is available everywhere in Peru, but if you can get your hands on some frozen lucuma pulp (usually at Latin grocery stores), then you can try making it yourself. Other ingredients include evaporated milk (or dulce de leche), egg yolks, vanilla extract, whipped cream, and sugar.

Photo by ajafoto

Ice cream may be the most popular but lucuma is commonly made into milkshakes and juices as well.

Photo by ildi_papp

Chocolate cake is a popular dessert in Peru. Here’s a version made with layers of lucuma.

Photo by ildi_papp

This is what lucuma looks like in its natural state. It’s one of the most interesting Peruvian fruits and something you need to try in Peru.

Photo by ildi_papp

5. Torta Helada

Torta helada is as delicious as it is colorful. It refers to a classic Peruvian dessert made with layers of vanilla sponge cake, chantilly whipped cream, and strawberry gelatin. Meaning “iced cake”, it’s a Peruvian cake typically served cold in summer, hence the name.

Torta helada is a traditional Peruvian dessert commonly served at children’s parties. It’s typically made with strawberry though it can be made with peach or orange as well, or even a combination of the three.

Photo by ildi_papp

6. Cocadas

Cocadas are coconut macaroons. They’re common in many countries throughout Latin America like Peru, Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Panama.

Peruvian cocadas are made with grated coconut, condensed milk, egg whites, vanilla, and sugar. They can be eaten plain or topped with additional ingredients like powdered sugar, cinnamon, chopped nuts, or manjar blanco.

Cocadas are often enjoyed with coffee or hot chocolate in Peru, either as a snack or as an after-dinner dessert.

Photo by Paulovilela

7. Arroz Zambito

Arroz con leche is a popular dessert found in many countries throughout the world. It refers to a type of rice pudding dessert made with short-grain rice mixed with evaporated milk, sweetened milk, and other ingredients like raisins, cinnamon, and cloves.

Although arroz con leche is popular in Peru, arroz zambito refers to a specific type of Peruvian rice pudding made with chancaca, the same dark brown sugar used in picarones syrup. The addition of chancaca is what gives arroz zambito its signature brown color.

During colonial times, the term “zambo” was used to refer to people of African descent. Today, zambito is a colloquial term used (mainly in Lima) to describe Peruvian people with darker skin.

Dtarazona, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

8. Crema Volteada

Crema volteada is the Peruvian version of crème caramel. It’s a rich and luscious dessert made with just a few ingredients – eggs, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and lemon zest.

Crema volteada literally means “upside down cream” and is in reference to how the dessert is made. Baked in a baño maria or bain marie bath, this traditional Peruvian dessert is prepared in a ring mold which is flipped over after cooling to serve the caramel custard. Drowned in a rich caramel sauce, it can be eaten as is or topped with fresh berries.

Photo by fnalphotos

9. Suspiro de Limeña

Suspiro de Limeña (or Suspiro a la Limeña) is as interesting as it is delicious. A traditional dessert from Lima, its name roughly translates to “sigh of the lady from Lima” and is in reference to its lightness, like a woman’s sigh.

Suspiro de Limeña was invented in the 19th century by Amparo Ayarza, wife of the Peruvian poet José Gálvez Barrenechea. It’s a light but extremely sweet dessert consisting of manjar blanco (dulce de leche) and egg yolks topped with a fluffy meringue made from egg whites and port wine syrup.

Photo by Gerar16

10. Frejol Colado

Frejol colado is an interesting Peruvian dessert with African influences. It’s a type of sweetened black bean dessert made with skinned and puréed black beans cooked with sugar, milk, cloves, anise seeds, and toasted sesame seeds. It’s traditionally made for Easter though it can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

MiguelAlanCS, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

11. Turron de Doña Pepa

When it comes to colorful Peruvian desserts, nothing beats turron de doña pepa. It refers to a unique Peruvian dessert made with crumbly bars of anise-flavored nougat soaked in chancaca (dark brown sugar syrup) and topped with candy sprinkles. It can be prepared at any time of the year though it’s traditionally associated with El Mes Morado, or the Purple Month.

Every October, a series of religious processions is held in Lima to commemorate El Señor de los Milagros (The Lord of Miracles) – an image of Jesus Christ painted in the 17th century. Even after much of Lima was destroyed in earthquakes in the 17th and 18th centuries, the mural was left standing, leading to this annual procession that remains one of the oldest Catholic traditions in Peru. Purple is the color of the Nazarenas nuns in Lima, hence the name El Mes Morado.

Decorated with colorful candies, this visually striking dessert tastes just as colorful as it looks. It’s flavored with anise seeds and chancaca and a host of other flavorings like lime juice, orange zest, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice.

Photo by Gerar16

12. Tres Leches

If you’re familiar with Latin American desserts, then tres leches cake needs little introduction. Meaning “three milks” in Spanish, it refers to a popular sponge cake soaked in three types of milk – evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream. It’s often topped with whipped cream or meringue and dusted with cinnamon.

Photo by anna.pustynnikova

13. Pionono

Pionono refers to a popular Peruvian sponge cake roll. It’s typically filled with manjar blanco though it can be made with other fillings like dulce de leche, pastry cream, jelly, chantilly cream, or chocolate cream. It’s a soft and delicious dessert that’s best paired with a cup of Peruvian coffee or hot chocolate.

If you’re familiar with desserts from southern Spain, then you may recognize pionono. The Spanish original is a much smaller rolled pastry that originated in Santa Fe, a small town just west of Granada.

Photo by flanovais

14. Pie de Limon

Pie de limon is what Peruvians call lemon meringue pie. But unlike your typical lemon meringue pie, it’s made with local limes for a uniquely Peruvian twist.

Photo by fudio

15. Torta de Chocolate

As you can probably guess from its name, torta de chocolate refers to Peruvian chocolate cake. It isn’t the most unique or exotic Peruvian dessert on this list, but it’s delicious and one of the most popular desserts in Peru.

When done right, Peruvian torta de chocolate is perfectly moist, fluffy, and chocolatey. It’s topped with a rich chocolate frosting and sometimes with fresh Peruvian fruits like aguaymanto (Peruvian groundcherries).

Photo by MSPhotographic


Simply put, no one knows Peruvian desserts better than a local, so what better way to experience the cuisine than by going on a food tour? Not only will a local guide take you to the city’s best Peruvian markets, restaurants, and food stalls, but they’ll be able to explain all the dishes to you in more detail. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of food tours in Lima, Cusco, and other destinations throughout Peru.


Going on a food tour will lead you to the city’s best local restaurants and markets, but if you want to really learn about Peruvian cuisine, then you may be interested in taking a cooking class. Check out Cookly for a list of cooking classes in Lima and Cusco.


When discussing trademark dishes in Peruvian cuisine, savory foods like ceviche and pollo a la brasa dominate the conversation. But as this list shows, authentic Peruvian desserts like mazamorra morada and suspiro de limeña should be part of the discussion.

With so much going for it like Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail, and Rainbow Mountain, there are many compelling reasons to visit Peru, not the least of which is Peruvian cuisine and its delicious traditional desserts.


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Serbian Food: 15 Traditional Dishes to Look For in Belgrade

Belgrade is a city with a rich cultural history, and Serbian food is a reflection of this. Serbian cuisine has been influenced by many different cultures, both in Europe and from different parts of the world. With Serbia being at the crossroads of east and west, you’ll find traditional dishes that have been shaped by both Middle Eastern and European influences.

The uniqueness of Serbian dishes makes it an excellent choice for Traveleaters looking to try something new while visiting this stunning country in Southeast Europe.


If you’re planning a trip to Serbia and want to really dive into the cuisine, then you may be interested in joining a Serbian food or wine tour.


  • Serbian Food Tours: Food and Wine/Drinking Tours in Serbia

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Serbian food is a unique blend of Byzantine, Mediterranean, Central European, and Balkan influences. While every region of Serbia has its own culinary traditions, some Serbian dishes are considered national treasures and are popular throughout the country.

Typical Serbian food is as rich and diverse as its landscape. Seasonality is important in Serbian cuisine with its ingredients usually being of high quality and very fresh. Rich grilled meats, minced meat, fresh vegetables, bread, cheese, pastries, and wine have long played an important role in Serbian culture and cuisine.

Like the cuisines of many Balkan countries, flavors are generally mild with the most commonly used seasonings being paprika, salt, and black pepper.


1. Ajvar

Serbian ajvar is a vegetable relish, made principally from red bell peppers and eggplant. It originates from the Balkans in southeastern Europe and is very common in traditional restaurants throughout Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and North Macedonia.

In Serbia, ajvar is often enjoyed with Serbian bread like lepinja or pogača. You’ll usually find it served as a side dish with grilled meats or fish, Serbian hamburgers (pljeskavica), and grilled meat sausages (ćevapčići).

Aside from roasted red bell peppers and eggplant, typical ingredients in Serbian ajvar include garlic, olive oil (or sunflower oil), lemon juice, white vinegar, salt, and ground black pepper. Traditionally prepared in mid-autumn when peppers are most abundant, ajvar is usually made in large quantities and then stored in jars to last for several months.

Photo by MitaStockImages

2. Srpska Salata

Srpska Salata is the Serbian version of the famous Bulgarian salad known as shopska salad. It’s made with finely chopped vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and peppers. Srpska salata is almost identical to the Bulgarian original except it’s typically made without cheese.

Srpska salata is a Serbian salad that can be enjoyed at any time of year, but it’s especially suited for the summer when vegetables are fresh and abundant. Seasoned simply with just salt and pepper, it’s drizzled with sunflower oil and white wine vinegar before serving.

Photo by fanfon

3. Punjene Paprike

The word punjen refers to something that’s stuffed, so punjene paprike means “stuffed pepper”. It’s a type of dolma – a family of stuffed vegetable dishes popular in many countries throughout the Balkans, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Levant.

Punjene paprike is a type of dolma made with hollowed-out sweet peppers stuffed with rice, meat, and other ingredients. The stuffed peppers are cooked and served in a sauce made with tomato paste, onions, olive oil, and seasonings.

Punjene paprike is a mouthwatering Serbian dish that can be enjoyed as a side dish or main course, often with a side of boiled potatoes.

Photo by fotokris44

4. Sarma

Sarma is a form of dolma made with similar ingredients. But instead of being stuffed in hollowed-out vegetables, the ingredients are wrapped in pickled cabbage leaves and then cooked over sauerkraut. The word sarma is derived from the Turkish language and means “rolled” or “wrapped.”

Like punjene parike, sarma is a popular and beloved dish in Balkan cuisine. Aside from the Balkans, it’s consumed in many countries throughout Central Europe, the South Caucasus, and the Middle East. It’s a hearty dish that can be enjoyed everyday though it becomes especially popular in winter and over the holidays.

Sarma stuffing is made with pretty much the same ingredients as punjene paprike – ground meat, rice, and raw onions. The filling is wrapped in pickled cabbage leaves and then slowly cooked in a clay pot over a bed of sauerkraut with smoked meat and tomato sauce.

Photo by cherriesjd

5. Gibanica

Gibanica is a type of Serbian cheese pie made with phyllo dough, white cheese, and eggs. It’s a popular dish in Balkan cuisine and exists in many variations from sweet to savory, simple to elaborate. Gibanica is one of the most popular Serbian foods and widely considered to be a national dish.

The most commonly served version of this traditional Serbian dish is called gužvara, meaning “crumpled”. It gets its name from the filo pastry being crumpled and soaked in a mixture of cheese, eggs, milk, lard, salt, and kajmak – a thick cream made from cow or sheep milk. The sheets of soaked pastry are then layered and baked in an oven.

Traditionally eaten with yogurt, gibanica is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. It’s commonly made in Serbian homes and enjoyed for breakfast or dinner, as an appetizer or a snack.

Photo by uroszunic

6. Prebranac

Prebranac is a type of Serbian bean stew. It’s a hearty meal consisting of baked beans cooked with onions, garlic, sweet Hungarian paprika, bay leaves, and sunflower oil.

Prebranac is a staple dish in Serbian cuisine. It’s a cheap and filling meal originally made by farmers to last them through the long winters. Recipes vary from cook to cook but it’s typically made with white beans and commonly served as an appetizer or main dish, often with a side of warm crusty bread.

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7. Podvarak

Podvarak is a simple dish made with sauerkraut, garlic, finely chopped onions, and some type of meat, usually roast pork or chicken. The ingredients are baked together in an oven and can be made with or without meat.

Like prebranac, podvarak is classic Serbian comfort food that’s typically prepared during the colder months in Serbia. It’s often made in large quantities for family gatherings. Podvarak with meat is traditionally served as a main course while meatless versions are served as a side dish.

Photo by lenyvavsha

8. Ćevapčići

Ćevapčići is one of the most well-known and beloved Serbian foods. It’s a Serbian national dish that’s also popular in many Balkan countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, and Montenegro.

Ćevapčići is a type of grilled minced meat sausage. Recipes vary but it’s typically made with a mixture of beef, lamb, mutton, and pork seasoned with garlic, paprika, black pepper, and salt. The heavily seasoned meat mixture is shaped into small sausages and then grilled over an open flame.

Smokey and delicious, you can expect about 5-10 sausages served on a plate with different sides like ajvar, kajmak, cottage cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, and red pepper. The sausages can also be stuffed in lepinja flatbread and eaten like a sandwich.

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9. Pljeskavica

Like ćevapčići, pljeskavica is a Serbian national dish. It’s popular in many countries throughout the Balkans like Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Croatia, and Montenegro.

You can think of pljeskavica as a type of Serbian hamburger made with ground beef, pork, or lamb. It can be served in lepinja flatbread or on a plate with various side dishes like ajvar, kajmak, and chopped onions.

Photo by

Here’s a look at pljeskavica served in flatbread like a sandwich.

Photo by hurricanehank

10. Roštilj

If you’re an unrepentant carnivore and love meat dishes, then you need to try roštilj. It doesn’t refer to a single dish but a Serbian barbecue consisting of different types of meat grilled over an open flame.

Many Serbian restaurants in Belgrade will offer roštilj. Typical meats include ćevapčići, pljeskavica, kobasice (spicy Serbian sausage), ražnjići (skewered meat), and vešalice (pork loin). If you get an order of mixed meat, then you’ll get a taste of everything on one plate.

Roštilj can be enjoyed throughout Serbia but the cities of Leskovac and Novi Pazar are especially renowned for their barbecue.

Photo by DariaKM

11. Čvarci

Do you enjoy snacking on pork rinds? If you do, then you need to try čvarci, the Serbian version of these tasty deep-fried pork cracklings.

A rustic countryside food, čvarci is typically prepared in autumn and consumed through the winter, either as a snack or as an ingredient in other Serbian dishes. They’re popular in many European countries like Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Czechia, Ukraine, and Hungary.

Photo by uroszunic

12. Karađorđeva Šnicla

Karađorđeva šnicla is a Serbian dish consisting of a breaded and rolled veal or pork cutlet stuffed with kajmak. It was named after Karađorđe, a Serbian revolutionary who led the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire from 1804-1813.

To make karađorđeva šnicla, a cutlet of veal, pork, or beef is rolled over kajmak and coated in flour and beaten eggs. The stuffed roll is then deep-fried and served with a side of roasted potatoes and tartar sauce.

This tasty meat roll is one of the most popular Serbian foods though it’s a relatively new invention. It was created in 1959 by a Serbian chef who needed to make chicken kiev for a distinguished guest from the Soviet Union. He was out of chicken so he used veal instead, creating this unique Serbian twist known as karađorđeva šnicla.

Photo by hurricanehank

13. Mućkalica

Mućkalica is a Serbian meat dish made with vegetables and leftover meat, mostly from yesterday’s roštilj. Its name is derived from the word mućkati which means to “shake, stir, or mix”, perhaps in reference to the dish’s combination of various leftovers.

Like roštilj, mućkalica is enjoyed throughout the country but the most famous version is from Leskovac in south Serbia. Known as leskovačka mućkalica, it’s typically made with fatty cuts of grilled pork, bacon, tomatoes, roasted peppers, onions, paprika, and chili peppers. It’s seasoned with salt and pepper and often enjoyed with lepinja, ajvar, and fresh Serbian salad.

Photo by fanfon

14. Vanilice

If you have a sweet tooth, then you need to try vanilice. As you can probably guess from the name, it’s a Serbian vanilla cookie typically enjoyed around the holidays.

Vanilice means “little vanillas” and is one form of sitni kolaci or Serbian tiny cookie. It consists of two vanilla walnut cookies held together with a dollop of jam. Apricot or rose hip jam are most traditional though other flavors can be used as well. The tiny cookies are then dusted with a generous amount of vanilla sugar before serving.

Photo by kuzmire

15. Rakija

Rakija is the national drink of Serbia and in many other countries throughout the Balkans. It’s a collective term used to describe a family of fruit spirits or brandy popular throughout the region.

Serbian rakija comes in many varieties but the most popular version is sljivovica, a type of rakija made with plum. It’s produced commercially and at home and typically contains about 40-50% ABV.

Plum is the most common but Serbian rakija can be made with a host of different fruits like apricots, grapes, bananas, peaches, apples, pears, cherries, and figs. It can even contain other ingredients like nuts, herbs, and honey.

Photo by 5PH

Rakija is so popular that there are an estimated 10,000 private producers of this fruit brandy in Serbia. Živeli!

Photo by 5PH


It’s easy enough to experience the food in Serbia on your own, but if you want to really dig into Serbian cuisine, then you may want to go on a food tour. Simply put, no one knows Serbian food better than a local, so what better way to learn about traditional Serbian dishes than by going on a guided food tour?

Not only will a local guide take you to the city’s best restaurants, markets, and street food stalls, but they’ll be able to explain all the unfamiliar Serbian foods to you in more detail. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of Serbian food tours in Belgrade and other cities throughout the country.


Serbian food is an interesting mix of eastern and western flavors. While some dishes may be unfamiliar to western palates, most are quite tasty and definitely worth a try. You can find these dishes at many traditional restaurants in Serbia.

It’s important to remember that Serbian meals can be very hearty and filling. If you aren’t used to eating too much meat or starch-heavy dishes, then you may want to pace yourself.

Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoy all these delicious flavors when you visit Serbia!


Some of the links in this article on Serbian food are affiliate links. If you make a booking, then we’ll earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you!

Cover photo by Miljan. Stock images via Depositphotos.

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