“Like heaven in your mouth” – the Balkan street food we love

“Like heaven in your mouth” – the Balkan street food we love

Street food holds a special place in the heart of every resident of the Balkans.

It is a universal remedy for a bad mood, ravenous hunger or after a few too many drinks. In the big Balkan cities, there is a snack bar lurking at almost every turn, which will offer something high in calories, but also warm, tasty, filling and very popular.

“Like paradise in the mouth” – that’s how the Cultural Places guide defines Balkan street food. Both they and we put her majesty the pie at number one.

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Banitsa, as we know it or almost the same, will be found in North Macedonia, Serbia and, of course, in our country’s pastry shops. In Turkey, they have their own burek, which is very similar – it is found everywhere, it is made from thin crusts of dough, egg and cheese.

The difference with our traditional pie from the booth is that in our southern neighbor the burek contains soda and yogurt in the filling and fresh milk in the topping.

In Bulgaria, we eat the flatbread with boza or ayran, they do the same in Turkey. In Serbia, North Macedonia, and recently also in Bosnia, who knows why, they prefer it with cola or another sweetened carbonated drink.


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Berlin may be trying to claim the Dune Capital of Europe, but here on our peninsula we can argue.

Düners have in recent years been competing for street food popularity with patties, and often win because of their richer meat and vegetable filling. In Turkey, you will find dünera with almost only beef or lamb and without too many unnecessary additives to interfere with the taste of the meat.

In Bulgaria, most döner shops also offer chicken döner. In Greece – as in our country – we also enjoy their gyros, which is in a thicker bread and can also be with pork.

Düner is a heavy meal and does not suggest drinks with it, although a beer is never superfluous.


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Pretzels seem to have disappeared from the Bulgarian streets, but they can certainly be found in quite a few places. They are also found as street food in North Macedonia, Greece and Serbia, and in Serbia they are prepared both boiled and grilled.

Also, in our western neighbor, your bagel can be cut in half and served with whipped cream, making it even richer.

Another difference is that the Bulgarian version of pretzels is usually lean, while in neighboring countries they use eggs and milk to knead the dough. The sprinkle on the bagel also varies – just sesame, a mixture of crushed nuts or sugar.

Turkish simit is also simpler and contains flour, yeast, water and salt. There, simit is sometimes sold at the booths with a sweet glaze.

Serbian kebabs

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Street food, which, for some reason, we still haven’t thought of offering on every corner.

The best little kebabs, notes Culture Places, are not in Serbia, but in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are served both in restaurants and in fast food establishments and are small kebabs accompanied by cream, bread and onion, possibly also ajvar.

With all the love that we Bulgarians have for the grill, we have no idea why this dish is not also found in our native street cuisine.


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The princesses claim to exist only in Bulgaria – a statement that we cannot support one hundred percent, because it is possible that the neighbors also thought of baked slices with minced meat.

However, the princess, also called a strange woman in South-Eastern Bulgaria, is held in high esteem in our country, because it is the ideal combination of a large slice of bread, a layer of minced meat and additives such as cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise.

After the pie, it is the princess that appeals the most to foreigners, because it does not combine too exotic spices and flavors and is somehow distantly familiar to them.

In Turkey, you can find the enriched version of the princess – the pide, which is meat pies and lots and lots of spices. Also available as street food.