Croatian cuisine could be described as interesting, diverse, and full of flavors. From the continental cuisines of the Croatian regions Slavonia and Hrvatsko Zagorje to the Mediterranean flavors offered by the coastal regions of Istria and Dalmatia.
Traditional Croatian recipes
A large number of traditional dishes and preparations have been passed down from generation to generation, from our grannies to our moms, leaving us cookbooks full of delicious recipes to witness the time and tradition.
Sometimes it is difficult to say precisely what are the original Croatian autochthonous dishes because of the intertwining and influences of different cultures that came together in the area of what today is modern Croatia.
For example, in continental Croatia, we will find a great influence of Hungarian and Turkish cuisine, with a more complex way of preparation while the south was influenced by Roman and Greek cuisine, which again may be considered as the forerunner of what we today call Mediterranean cuisine which is very widespread in the coastal Croatian regions of Dalmatia and Istria.
What is Croatian cuisine consisted of
What characterizes Croatian cuisine is division by the regions where each region proudly preserves and inherits its own recipes so Croatian cuisine is also known as a cuisine of the regions.
The cuisine of the Croatian coast, in the region of Dalmatia and Istria, is a typical Mediterranean cuisine, which implies consuming a lot of fish and seafood, plenty of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and olive oil. If we add epithets like low-fat and moderately spicy it becomes clear why this cuisine is considered one of the healthiest in the world.
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Continental Croatian cuisine
Cuisines of continental Croatian characterization more complex ways of preparation and use of more spices, some of the most famous dishes of the North-Eastern Croatian region of Slavonia are Čobanac (traditional meat stew, prepared by slowly cooking all of the ingredients for several hours in a large copper pot that is strung over an open fire.) Fish paprikas (fish stew cooked in a big cauldron over an open fire) or the popular salami Kulen (a type of flavored sausage made of minced pork). Kulen is the most valuable and most expensive sausage product in Slavonia.
If you are traveling to Istria (the largest Croatian peninsula), we recommend you to try the famous truffles, Istrian ones are considered to be among the best in the world. You will find them traditionally served with Istrian fuži (a type of homemade pasta).
Croatian south and the region Dalmatia is famous for fish and seafood. Some of the most known dishes are: Grilled fish, Hvarska Gregada – simple fish stew with potatoes and onions, considered to be one of the oldest fish dishes, extremely delicious, yet easy to prepare, gregada is prepared throughout the region of Dalmatia, but it is mostly associated with the island of Hvar, Black risotto from cuttlefish, etc.
But this region is also famous for delicious meat dishes such as Peka. “Peka” is a large metal baking dish with a bell-shaped dome lid, used to cook food in an open fireplace, with hot coals and embers placed on top of the dome for even, slow cooking. Don’t miss the opportunity to try how lamb and veal prepared in this traditional way can be soft and delicious.
There is also Dalmatian prosciutto (smoked ham), famous Pag cheese from the same-named Island of Pag, Dalmatian pašticada – stewed beef dish cooked in a special sauce and served with homemade gnocchi, and many other specialties.
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Croatian cuisine Zagreb
If the road takes you to Hrvatsko Zagorje, don’t miss to try Turkey with mlinci (mlinci – a type of baked flatbread, softened with boiling water and served with turkey juices and drippings.) and štrukli with cheese – (štrukli – phyllo dough filled with cottage cheese).
For continental Croatia, we definitely recommend grilled lamb – lamb roasted on a pole (this dish is also typically prepared in other regions like in Dalmatia, for big celebrations) and various versions of Goulash.
Goulash is an original Hungarian dish, and Croats learned the recipe well from their neighbors. For many years, Croatia was connected and for some time even a part of the Hungarian Kingdom (today’s Hungary), which of course influenced Croatian cuisine. Also, the geographical position and nearness of Central European countries were reflected in the cuisine of continental Croatian.
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Croatian holiday cuisine
Croatian cuisine is strongly associated with the occasions and holidays that are celebrated during the year. Some meals are traditionally prepared for special occasions like weddings, Christmas, or the New Year. Eg. in Dalmatia, on Good Friday, cod is prepared in traditional ways: Bakalar Bianco or Bakalar na brujet (bakalar – cod). Dried cod is cooked with potatoes and vegetables into a delicious stew that is eaten on fasting days.
Croatia boasts a large number of farms and agrotourism that offer home-grown food, like vegetables, fruits, and meat, wine, and liqueurs from their own production or fresh fish caught in the Adriatic Sea. Such places make the Croatian gastro tourist offer unique and promising.
Of course, where there is good food there is always good wine as well. Croatia boasts a large number of quality varieties, and some of the most famous wine regions and wines are Dalmatia (Plavac, red wine), Istria (Malvasia white wine and Teran red wine), and Slavonia (Graševina, white wine).
From all this, it can be concluded that the Croatian gastro scene has a lot to offer. We will write in more detail about Croatian dishes, recipes, and wines in our following posts.