Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Traditional desserts in Bulgaria and Balkans

After centuries of stormy history, intensive geographical and political changes and interaction of the Balkan countries with the Orient, it is difficult to define strictly the origin of the local cuisine. Many of the dishes have Turkish or Greek names, and have equivalents all around the Balkans and even in some central European countries. Some of the traditional lokal desserts are:

Halva - this is a hard sweet substance prepared from milled cereals or seeds, oils and nuts.

Lokum - a soft, sticky sweet dessert with different colours and taste usually rolled in icing sugar.

Gris-halva - a thin syrup cake made of semolina, cinnamon, nuts etc.

Baklava- is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is very sweet. It is similar to saralia, tulumbi, revane, kadaif.

 Tulumbi - fried dough sweetened with syrup

 Mekitzi- fried dough with icing sugar and cinemmon.

Oshav - this is compote of dried fruit, boiled in water spiced with honey, cinnamon, clove, lemon peel, etc. It is a very pleasant, light and fresh dessert. It can be consumed both, cold or slightly warmed.

Sutlyash – cooked rise and milk, sugar and cinnamon.

Ashure - boiled wheat grains with grinded walnuts, biscuits, raisins, lemon peel and sugar.

Tikvenik – sweet phyllo pastry with pumpkin filling. It might contain nuts and aromatic spices such as cinnamon, vanilla, etc.

Sweet Banitza / Milk Banitza - Classical Banitza prepared whit sugar and milk.

Roasted pumpkin, honey and walnuts.

Rachel- roasted pumpkin in milk and sugar.

Yogurt with honey and jam or berries.


4 oz gris (semolina)
3 oz sunflower oil
1 ½ cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ cup walnuts (optional)
raisins (optional)
sweetened shredded coconut meat (optional)
lemon peels (optional)

Boil sugar and water to make syrup. Fry semolina in oil until golden. Add cinnamon and stir well. Sugar syrup is poured gradually fried semolina. Stir constantly over low heat until the semolina absorbs syrup. Pour into suitable container or individual pudding cups. Live it about an hour to cool down. Then cut into shapes as desired. It can be garnished with cinnamon, raisins, shredded coconut meat, and walnuts. If using vanilla and lemon peel, they are put in hot sugar syrup.


  1. Baklava, revani, tulumba(Tulumbi), helva(halva), sütlaç(Sutlyash), aşure(Ashure)...etc.These are traditional Ottoman desserts not Balkans or Bulgaria.

  2. Welcome, tugce tasan!
    Second Bulgarian Empire spans nearly 500 years, from the conquest by Ottoman Empire in 1396, to its liberation in 1878. Bulgarian territories were administrated as the Rumelia Eyalet at the time. The second Bulgarian Empire consisted Thracians, Celts, Slavs and Bulgars.The Bulgars (also Bolgars or proto-Bulgarians) were a semi-nomadic people of Turkic peoples descent, originally from Central Asia, who from the 2nd century onwards dwelled in the steppes north of the Caucasus and around the banks of river Volga (then Itil). A branch of them gave rise to the First Bulgarian Empire. The Bulgars were governed by hereditary khans. There were several aristocratic families whose members, bearing military titles, formed a governing class. Bulgars were polytheistic, but chiefly worshiped the supreme deity Tangra. As you see, is quite normal to be noted that the traditions and food habits in Bulgaria today are a legacy from those ancient times. The food is largely the same, the spices are slightly different, but the technology for their preparation is as well Ottoman, Arab, Central Asian. These desserts are traditional for all territory of Iran and Mesopotamia, to Bulgaria and Turkey.
    May God be with you!


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