Macedonian cuisine is rich not only in variety and flavours, but it also holds strong elements of history, intertwined with christian and pre-christian culture, and of course influences from Macedonia's time under the Ottoman Empire. Macedonian food is known mainly for its use of red capsicum, beans and of course, Macedonian pastries.
A good website which contains traditional Macedonian family recipes is www.VillageFeast.com.au.
Ajvar is one of the most popular foods in the Balkans, and it holds a special place in Macedonian cuisine. It is a red capsicum relish with eggplant and other ingredients. It is best eaten with freshly baked bread and cheese. Simple but unbeatable.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are extremely popular for Macedonians, especially during summer time. A few of these include Macedonian Tomato Salad, Cucumber Salad, Shopska Salad (Šopska Salata), Cabbage Salad (Zelka Salata), and all of them are great for cooling off or building an appetite for the main course of food, especially when consumed with a shot of Rakija (Macedonian Spirit).
Solenki are savoury baked snacks with a bread-like texture. They usually have a filling of some sort such as feta, and they are usually scattered with sesame seeds.
Accross the balkans, skara is a popular way to cook. Favourites on Macedonian grills are ḱebapi, which are skinless beef or pork mince sausages with garlic. They are cooked on a char grill and eaten by dipping into chilli flakes alongside potatoes and fresh salad. Long Bell Peppers are also grilled on a barbeque, forming a unique salad when mixed with olive oil, vinegar, onions and garlic.
Stuffed Capsicums are a favourite too. Large red bell peppers are stuffed with minced meat, rice, eggplant and whatever else. They are baked in the oven with potatoes and served.
Tavče Gravče (Baked Beans)
The ultimate comfort food, Macedonian baked beans are cooked slowly with paprika powder, Macedonian salami (kolbasi) or minced meat patties.
Snails are considered a delicacy in some parts of Macedonia. They are usually served in traditional Macedonian restaurants, either fried with garlic and butter, or chilly flakes (piper).
Maznik is probably the best known Macedonian pastry dish, consisting of a very long roll of pastry rolled up with a filling, typically feta cheese (sireńe) and coiled up into a circle, to be cut into pizza-like slices.
While it is eaten during the year, it forms a tradition on Macedonian New Year, which is 14th January. Everybody in the household sits for maznik on new years day, and a piece is cut for every person in the house, sometimes a piece is allocated for the house itself. A gold coin is placed in the Maznik, and the dish is spun several times (usually three). Each household member takes a slice of the maznik and whoever's slice holds the gold coin will have good luck for the year.
Burek is a very popular pastrie consumed in Macedonia and accross the Balkans, including Turkey, the place of its origin. It is a layered pastrie with different types of filling, from feta, to minced meat, spinach or whatever else. It is usually consumed with drinkable yoghurt, and due to its oily nature, it is a popular 'oily meal' to accompany large amounts of alcohol :)
Winemaking has been a part of Macedonia for millennia, and it is naturally an important part of Macedonian food. Perfect with a hearty meal. As well as quality wine produced from Tikveš in Macedonia, it is also tradition to make wine at home.
The two most well known spirits native to Macedonia are Rakija and Mastika. Rakija is distilled from wine, while Mastika has an additional flavour of aniseed.
Coffee was introduced to Macedonia by the Ottomans, and the type of coffee most commonly consumed in the Macedonian home is called "Tursko Kafe" or "Turkish Coffee". It is brought to boil on the stove and consumed from small cups with sweets.
These days, restaurants in Macedonia mostly serve italian styles of coffee such as Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, Macchiato etc.
Sweets are another part of Macedonia's food which were heavily influenced by the Ottomans, which were famous for their love of all things sweet. The rich, sweet tastes of Lokum (Turkish Delight), Baklava and Kadaif are all enjoyed in Macedonian homes.
Slatko is perhaps one of the favourites. It is a honey-like viscous sweet which is made by boiling fruits with excessive amounts of sugar. With flavour-packed mountain fruits common to Macedonia, it is a very tasty filling for desert pastries, cakes, or on its own!
A Macedonian adaptation of middle eastern Baklava is 'Baklava so Višńi', which is baklava pastry filled with sour-cherry slatko.
While there are several Macedonian-style Balkan-grill and Macedonian bakeries operating in Sydney, there are unfortunately no restaurants in Newcastle specialising in Macedonian cuisine. The Macedonian community hall however serves Macedonian food at events such as Dances.
Buying Macedonian Ingredients
The products needed to make Macedonian food are generally available in most grocery stores. Specific products such as Ajvar are slowly making their way into the supermarkets, and can be found in most foreign food aisles.
Food Trends in Macedonia
A good site to check out for the latest food trends and ideas coming out of Macedonia is www.hranaivino.com.mk.