There is no one Croatian cuisine, and the food of the country is composed of the food traditions of its various regions. While the cuisine has roots in ancient Slavic traditions, the most distinct differences are between the food of the mainland and the coastal areas. The mainland’s cuisine has a lot of influence from Turkey and Hungary, while the coastal areas have a distinctly Greek flavor and also Italian (especially Venetian) influence. Charcuterie is a unifying feature of all Croatian food.
10 Must-Try Croatian Food
Here is our selection of Croatian food facts with a special focus on the ones that you must experience if you are in the region.
1. Black Risotto
The first one on our list of Croatia famous food is Black Risotto. This is locally called the crni rizot, and is usually made with cuttlefish or squid, which gives the traditional Italian dish an extreme seafood twist. A specialty of the Dalmatian region, it has olive oil, squid ink, red wine, as well as garlic. Parmesan is usually the cheese used, and just before the dish is done, a little squid ink turns the whole thing black, giving it the unusual appearance for which it is known. Beware, the dish will also turn your fingers and teeth black, but the delicacy is certainly the best food in Croatia!
Boskarin is a delicacy of the Istrian region of Croatia. They are white grey long cattle with long horns. Serving boskarin meat is only the business of prestigious restaurants – there are about forty places in Istria, one in Dubrovnik and ten in Zagreb where you can find it. It is usually served in a local sauce with gnocchi or pasta and the meat is usually served as red salami or steak. There is also the boskarin tail soup that you must have. Boskarin counts as one of the best Croatian dishes there are out there.
One of the mysterious Croatian food recipes for fish stew popular in the regions of Istria, Dalmatia, and Kvarner is the Brodetto. The dish was traditionally made by fishermen in the Italian coastal regions of Abruzzo and Marche. Also known as brudet, the dish is now very common throughout coastal Croatia. There is a lot of mixing of fish – fishermen usually threw in whatever they had caught throughout the day into the mix. Grouper and tuna are preferred, but ingredients are flexible and vary across regions.
This fairly straightforward dish made of mussels is prevalent in the Adriatic coastal regions and is considered as Croatian cultural cuisine. The dish is traditionally prepared in a broth of white wine and olive oil, using garlic and tomatoes. Buzara itself means broth, and the dish bears a striking resemblance to the French delicacy of moules mariniere. Served with traditional white bread, the dish is also garnished at the end with breadcrumbs for both an appealing appearance and taste. The flavors and the distinct presentation make it one of the top Croatian renowned dishes.
Despite originating from the coastal regions, these traditional and incredibly delicious Croatian dessert pastries are widely popular across the country. A common treat during holidays, they are shaped like doughnuts and deep-fried in butter or oil, resembling the Italian holiday zeppole and the Dutch oliebollen. However, what sets them apart are the ingredients used in the mixture. In fact, the ingredients vary across different regions and usually include egg yolk, lemon or orange peels, rakija or rum, citrus zest, and other elements. These highly addictive Croatian confections should definitely be on your list of things to sample.
6. Istrian Ham
A traditional Istrian meal begins with a simple plate of prsut i sir, which consist of Istrian ham and cheese. Eating these is akin to savoring a piece of history itself, as not only is this a traditional meal with centuries-old origins, but the ham is aged for 12 to 18 months depending on the weather conditions. The Istrian ham is usually taken from the skinned leg of pork, dried with sea salt, and then infused with several herbs such as pepper, garlic, bay leaves, and rosemary. The curing process differs from that of Dalmatian ham, and Istrians utilize the colder Adriatic breeze to cure their meat and create this traditional Croatian delicacy.
7. Malvazija and Teran
No portrayal of any European cuisine is complete without a mention of the local wine. Malvazija is an Istrian white wine that pairs well with most Croatian food. It possesses the characteristic hints of apricot and apple that make it a delightful beverage to accompany Croatian seafood. Teran, on the other hand, is the red wine that was once associated with Croatian royalty. The finest Teran can be found in Coronica, Kobola, and Cattunar, all located near the vineyards where the wine is produced. Both of these Croatian drinks are an absolute must-try during a Croatian getaway!
Underneath the bell, referred to as ispod crepnje in Croatian, is a meat and vegetable dish that epitomizes typical Croatian cuisine. It is prepared by cooking the ingredients under a terracotta or cast-iron lid, situated over burning embers. The meat used in this dish may vary, ranging from the exotic flavors of octopus or veal to more common options like chicken or lamb. The process of cooking it in this manner is known as peka. Prior to baking the meat (often accompanied by potatoes and vegetables), the entire ensemble is seasoned with olive oil and various herbs.
Truffles have gained immense popularity in global haute cuisine, but the forests of Motovun in Istria have been long renowned for their truffles. The black truffles, known as tartufi, may not possess the same prominence as their Italian counterparts, yet they exude a stronger fragrance. Furthermore, they are more affordable compared to the truffles found in France or Italy, where these delicacies are highly regarded. Here in Croatia, you can indulge in multi-course meals featuring generous portions of truffle for half the price you would pay elsewhere in Europe.
10. Fuzi and Pljukanci
The traditional Croatian pasta is crafted by cutting out squares measuring 5-by-5 and tightly wrapping them around a wooden spoon handle. The resulting quill-shaped pasta is typically served with a traditional truffle cream sauce, although it can also be prepared with red sauce featuring boskarin, beef, chicken, or even game meat. As for the finest vegetarian Croatian dish, pljukanci is reminiscent of green beans in terms of shape. This chewy pasta pairs exceptionally well with cheesy gnocchi, known as njoki in Croatian.
Whilst there are plenty of Indian culinary options available in Croatia, including several desi restaurants in Zagreb and the coastal cities, it is highly recommended to take the time to savor some authentic Croatian cuisine and beverages in order to truly experience the essence of the place. So, don’t delay any further and start planning your Croatian holiday now!
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Frequently Asked Questions About Croatian Cuisine
What is the most renowned food in Croatia?
Buzara, Fritule, Istrian Ham, Malvazija and Teran, Peka, Truffles are some of the famous dishes you can try in Croatia.
Which dish is considered Croatia’s national cuisine?
Zagorski štrukli is recognized as Croatia’s national dish. You can find either a savory or sweet version, boiled or baked, of this delicacy.
Is it secure to travel to Croatia amidst the covid situation?
Yes, it is secure to travel to Croatia provided that you adhere to all guidelines and take all necessary precautions. Ensure to receive vaccination prior to planning your trip, wear masks consistently, maintain social distance in public areas, and regularly sanitize your hands.
Which alcoholic beverage is commonly available in Croatia?
Rakija is a prevalent alcoholic beverage found in Croatia. Travarica, which is essentially a herbal Rakija, is typically served at the beginning of a meal.
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