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Friday 07 August 2020

Top 10 Popular Dishes You Have To Try In Central Croatia

The traditional food of Croatia, just like its regions is quite diverse. It plays a significant role in the country’s cultural differences and customs, so to understand Croatian food is like understanding a part of the history. The Central part of Croatia, also known as the Continental part is known for its meat/vegetable diet and meals based mostly on Turkish, Hungarian and Austrian influence. The geographical position, the multi-climate conditions and the influence of foreign sovereigns have left their food imprint that shaped the culinary heritage of Croatia.
If you decide to spend your holiday in Central Croatia, and most probably end up in Zagreb, you should try one of these famous traditional meals.
Here is the list of top 10 foods to try in Central Croatia.

What To Eat And All You Need To Know About The Traditional Food In Central Croatia

1. Purica s mlincima (Turkey with mlinci)

Growing up in Zagreb, there was only one ultimate meal served on Sunday’s and special occasions that Croatian people just love to eat traditionally, and that is turkey with mlinci from the oven. “Mlinci” are a unique type of pasta, mostly only to be found in Croatia and Slovenia. They are made from flour, water, eggs and some salt. The pasta gets dried in the shape of thin blocks, just like for lasagne but bigger. The trick is to put it in the boiling water for a few minutes and then mix it with the meat sauce from the oven, so that it takes all the flavours. Besides turkey, you can also prepare it with a duck or a goose.

(Foto 1. Turkey with mlinci by my mom)

2. Zagrebački odrezak (also known as the Croatian version of the “Wiener Schnitzel”)

Perhaps the closest thing that we share with the once mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire is this piece of meat. Originally prepared as a veal steak, fried in bread crumbs, and stuffed with ham and melted cheese, today you can find versions of it with pork, chicken or turkey meat. Sounds delicious? It is served in most of the restaurants with French fries or “rizi-bizi”, as a side dish. Rizi-bizi is cooked rice mixed with green peas, and perhaps more of a domestic culinary choice that kids love to eat.

(Foto 2. Zagrebacki odrezak)

3. Gulaš (Goulash)

The Hungarian happy meat stew! Often prepared with chopped pieces of veal meat, potatoes, and other vegetables. Spiced with some sweet or chilli paprika spice, depending on the preference. There are different versions of it, for example in Slavonia, where they like to prepare it as a fish dish. Again, quite spicy, unless you warn the chef to keep it low…. PS. Sometimes, the secret ingredient is to add some wine!

(Foto 3. Gulas by MeineMannerwelt, Pixabay))

4. Fried sardines or carp fish

Zagreb is more known for having meat and fewer fish delicacies, but still, it has become a custom to eat fried sardines or srdele, especially on Friday’s when people don’t eat meat due to Catholic beliefs. The smaller sardines are, the better they are for that perfect bite! Simply fried in flour and salted, with a slice of lemon aside is the best way to eat them. Carp fish is usually sliced as a thick steak, fried in flour with a side dish of cooked chard and potatoes.

(Foto 4. Fried srdele fish)

5. Burek

If there is one good thing that Turks left behind them, after years and years of conflicts, then that is burek – a layered pastry made with pieces of fresh cow cheese, grinned meat or potatoes. The most famous version in Croatia is the one made from cheese. The key is to eat it while it is still warm with some cooled off yoghurt aside. Burek tends to be a greasy meal, but as well a delicious one, and yoghurt helps with adding some refreshment to it. You can find burek in every bakery, and it is usually cut in the shape of a triangle. Burek is also a traditional meal that you can find in Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

(Foto 5. Burek by Biea, Pixabay)

6. Sweet Strudles (Slatke Štrudle)

Time to talk about some dessert! Strudel has become a Croatian traditional sweet since the 18th century. Originally coming from our Austrian friends, “apple strudel” in Croatia is a significant dessert just as appeltaart is in the Netherlands. Strudles can be also made with cherries (my favourite!) and some fresh cow cheese mixed with sugar and raisins. The key to prepare a strudel is to have multi pastry layers rolled over the stuffing. The closest version of it, would be the kind of pastry you see that is used for Baklava.

(Foto 6. Strudel)

7. Doughnuts (Krafne)

Doughnuts are probably one of the favourite children’s choices for a quick breakfast as they head to school in Croatia. Most-loved part of my childhood as well. Traditionally stuffed with jam, although today you can also find them with chocolate or vanilla. The biggest challenge was to eat them without messing myself with all that powder sugar from the top. Doughnuts are also traditionally connected to our mascaraed holiday (Fašnik) that occurs in February.

(Foto 7. Doughnuts by Zitouniatis, Pixabay)

8. Samobor’s kremšnite

Samobor is a small medieval town just half an hour from Zagreb and their speciality is this creamy heaven called kremšnita. “Cremeschnitte” is believed to come from Austro-Hungarian influence, and you can find similar versions of it in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Poland, Romania and Slovenia. Next to Strudles, it is the most traditional dessert you can find in this part of Croatia. It is a custard cream filling with a hint of vanilla, placed between two layers of a puffy pastry like a sandwich. Trust me, it feels like melting heaven in your mouth! Again, not to mess yourself up with that extra powder sugar on top could be a challenge!

(Foto 8. Kremsnita from “Zagreb” patisserie)

9. Krvavice

Before saying how special and delicious this sausage is, I do need to warn delicate souls on the origin of its name. Basically, it means bloody sausage. Yes, I know. Who wants to eat a sausage stuffed with pigs blood, intestines, meat and who knows what?! Well, the old Romans did. Today, traditionally krvavice are coming from the area of Zagorje, also known as the countryside part just outside of Zagreb. Usually served with sour cabbage from the oven and some boiled potatoes. You might think that the sausage might look red, but krvavice are actually black. And don’t expect to eat them in one piece like a hot dog, their stuffing is crumbly so watch out for the mess!

(Foto 9. Krvavice by my mom)

10. Bućnica

Also from the area of Zagorje, bućnica is a traditional salty non-dessert meal that has passed on for generations among women in the rural area. If you have a Croatian grandmother, then you know what I mean. Bućnica is made from cheese and pumpkin, and covered in sour cream, but a certain type of pumpkin. Green with pale-white stripes is the best in my opinion. The pastry is similar to Strudles, and the key is to eat them warm!

(Foto 10. Bucnica)

Would you like to find out more about Central Croatia or your holiday options? Here are the top Fly and Drive destinations, plus everything you need to know about Central Croatia in general.

If you would like assistance with planning your holiday to Croatia, feel free to contact VesuvioTour team here.
Cover photo from Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb.

Written by Morana