It’s not every day I’m asked to research Bulgarian food. Surprising I know. But that’s exactly how I spent part of last week and it has been fascinating! Just to explain, I’m working with Expedia and their World on a Plate campaign, so I’ve been tasked with recreating a Bulgarian recipe and I’m sharing it with you.
I failed at the first hurdle though, never having actually been to Bulgaria, and I was at a slight disadvantage, but good old Google has come up trumps and I’m really excited about what I chose to cook.
Bulgarian cuisine is pretty diverse but a lot of the recipes I found contain potatoes, cheese and meat … pretty much my staple diet right there! I found stews, pastries, pancakes and kebabs, and there are also a whole lotta salads (people in rural areas grow vegetables that are exceptionally tasty, which is why salads occupy a central place in their culinary tradition.)
Unfortunately, I couldn’t roast an entire lamb on a spit in my kitchen, I’ve barely got room for a jar of wooden spoons, so I’ve chosen the following recipe: Red Pepper Lyutenitsa. In layman’s terms, it’s a red pepper spread. In the name of research, I tried really hard to find some Bulgarian beer and wine but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any supermarket that stocked any – although I think, at a push, Waitrose stock one type of Bulgarian wine. It’s a shame but there are online stores where you can source traditional Bulgarian wine, beer and food.
For the Red Pepper Lyutenitsa, you will need:
- 4 or 5 red bell peppers
- 2 serrano chillies
- 4-5 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/4 cup sunflower oil
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
The method couldn’t be simpler, which is precisely why I chose it. Roast the peppers over the flame of a stove or on the grill. I stuck a fork in and roasted them on the hob but to be honest, it did take a while so if I were to make this again, I’d pop them under the grill. Turn them frequently until their skins are black and then place in a plastic bag for a few minutes in order to loosen the skin. Wash off the charred skin, de-stem and de-seed. De-stem and de-seed the chillies and place peppers, onion, chillies, tomato paste, oil, and salt in a blender and puree until smooth.
That’s it. Serve with a good, crusty bread and a bottle of Bulgarian beer (if you can find one.)
My aim for 2016 is to really up my travel game. I have lots of exciting UK trips planned, and a nice week in Lanzarote already booked, but I think I’d also like to look at places that perhaps I wouldn’t have thought of. Like Bulgaria! After cooking and eating one of their national dishes, I’m practically a Bulgarian citizen right?
I’d love to know if you’ve ever been to Bulgaria and if so, what your favourite parts were.