COOKING IN CROATIA - Abundance of Flavours and Recepies

One of the things I love about my country is food. It is very delicious, full of varieties, colourful....it is beautiful gastronomical mixture of completely different ways of cooking in 3 climate zones we have here and various gastronomical influences we accepted from our neighbour countries like Hungary, Austria, Italia, all countries or former Yugoslavia...

Our kitchen is poetry for eyes and taste. We use abundance of recipes, because we love to eat so love to cook. (I know more then 1000 various recipes , started to cook with 15, on my own intention. )

After Second World War, Croats started to use a lot of meat in the meals, what was not case before: our tradition was eating the meat on Sundays and holidays only, and very rarely during the week. As a product of eating too much meat, many people started to develop a lot of difficult gastrointestinal problems. Before World War 2, meat was considered to be "food for rich ones", as well as unhealthy white flower. While changing the diet (a lot of meat, white flower products as bread, pasta, cookies etc. ) people started to feel "more rich", but paid price in health. Despite of that, we kept the habit of preparing home-made meals and did not accept too much processed food for very long time. Of course in last decade, globalisation influenced our traditional way of cooking, and now modern Croatian family is eating worse then ever thanks to the abundant supermarket`s offers of processed food, but many of us - still regularly cook.

Home made food is certainly song for the soul and pleasure for the body. Processed one hardly has any taste and cannot satisfy neither soul nor body.

In this Hub I will mention one very old traditional way of preparing the food: food is prepared on open fire (covered by hot burning ash) , we call it "under the lead" ("ispod peke" or "pod pekom"). Food prepared on that way has such delicious taste that is just unforgettable experience, so many restaurants kept this old tradition, as a part of their gastronomic offer.

I will also show few our traditional meals (prepared on "normal", modern way) for which I will give recipes in some of my other Hubs.

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Dishes "under the lead" - PEKA

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Dishes under the lid are Croatian cuisine specialties which are so tasteful that cannot be compared with any another modern way of baking the food. Of course, today people cook very rarely on that way but restaurants kept this tradition alive.

Traditionally, over the many centuries, the food was prepared in clay pots over a fire made of natural wood.

Traditional speciality are potatoes baked under the lid, of course to potatoes people add various vegetables and mushrooms, various types of meat, soy meat for vegetarians, squid or octopus for sea-food lovers.

Principle is very simple: food is prepared in a shallow round baking dish, and put on the fervor on the stone grill plate, next to the open wood fire, then covered with lid from ticker metal or clay. Then lid has to be covered with fervor again and process of baking (or cooking) can begin. This is not quick way of baking, usually it takes more then hour and half for food to be done...But the results are so excellent that is worth of waiting every minute.

Potatoes are the most important part of meal, we usually add to them onions, paprika, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic (before the end), meat (I put soy meat), a little bit of bacon, some herbs (according to the personal taste), pepper, salt, oil - and very important - a little bit of water so meal will be juicy at the end.

Food prepared on wooden-fire has always excellent taste which cannot be replaced with anything imaginable...but dishes under the lead are certainly food for the soul and heart.

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A lot of types of food can be prepared on that way: bread, various casserole, pizza... Bread made of corn-flour prepared under the lead is so excellent that while eating it you just now that angels were made it...is sweat, smells lovely, almost better then any cake... Pure poetry.

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My boyfriend and me prepare the meals on that way when we go to hiking, next to the mountain shelters, is often special kitchen for cooking the dishes "under the lead".

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This old tradition was kept here thanks to the rural areas, where many people did not want to give up this tasteful ancient way of cooking. 

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A little bit about restaurants

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Altough we have many modern and luxury restaurants, the best traditional dishes are often served in small restaurants in etno-style.... They can be also very romantic, as an original example I put here photo of one etno-restaurant on island Vis.

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What we usually eat....

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Due to the varieties of gastronomical infulences and very rich gastronomical culture, we eat a lot of various meals....

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We have habbit of eating a lot of various soups....

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vegetable casserolos, which are usually juicy...it is so good to eat "with spoon"... .

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Stuffed peppers

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Here is one great meal with stuffed paprika cooked in tomato sauce...really delicious... with home-made mashed potatotes.... Recipe is on : STUFFED PEPPERS - Food for Angels

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here is "sarma", stuffed sour cabbage. Excellent winter meal....

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home made pasta - this one is called "njoki"...

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and well, deserts.... pancakes are here thin, and we often use wallnuts in cakes...

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Comments 39 comments

Bbudoyono profile image

Bbudoyono 6 years ago

Looks yummy!


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Ohhhh, yes. Recepies will follow soon... Thanks for the visit!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Oh my goodness! This looks amazing. I could almost taste and smell the food/pics you posted! You did such an excellent job on this hub, Tatajan-Mihaela. What a wonderful hub. Thank you for sharing this!


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

If you like to cook, Dohn, there will be recepies coming soon, and of course, many simple ones for people who do not intend to spend too much time in the kitchen...

We are very spoiled here with food... he, he...

Thanks for the visit!


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 6 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Sigh! My mouth was watering as I looked at those yummy pictures. For some reason the soup attracted my virtual taste buds. hehe. Did not know what the Croatian dishes were. It interesting about the meat- it really should be an occasional treat. And you know over 1,000 recipes?! Wow!

As usual, thanks for th hub treat!


tantrum profile image

tantrum 6 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

Wow !! everything looks delicious!

I love soups and dishes you have to take with a spoon!. So I think I'll have to go there!

thanks for the info . Great hub !! :)


robie2 profile image

robie2 6 years ago from Central New Jersey

This hub is making me hungry-- looking forward to the recipes-- yum!


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

What time is dinner? I'll be right over. I have a good friend from Croatia who makes the best of the best njoki ever...simply to die for

Great hub

regards Zsuzsy


Craig Suits profile image

Craig Suits 6 years ago from Florida

Don't tell me you can cook too! Geeze, if I wasn't so damn old I'd be strappin on a backpack and making my way to croatia...I love the plate with the lid the sarma is in. They should all be that way and what's with the "smashed potato's?" over here we call them "mashed potato's". is there a difference?

Ya know, some people in the states think we're the modern day cutting edge of everything and anything. Well maybe so and maybe not but I'll tell you, from now on I'll be eating supper in Croatia.

I'm a turkey soup expert having raised 4 kids but if your soup above tastes as good as it looks, I'll be going back to soup school for a while.

Also, there's a great lesson to be learned here...PICTURES speak MUCH louder than words.....

Stay cool...


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Will come to my house to cook dinner?


Universal Laws profile image

Universal Laws 6 years ago from UNIVERSE

Would love the recipe for the bread made with corn-flour that can be cooked next to the fire. This hub just makes your mouth water.

Thank You,

Namaste

Linda at UNIVERSAL LAWS


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Thank you so much, Mary, well, one recepy can become at least 3 of them if one has a little bit of imagination. Here we have habbit of collecting recepies, it is part of female tradition, even men are very talented for cooking, but often need additional "push"...

Love and hugs.


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Thank you, Tantrum, recipes will follow very soon. This Hub is just "foreplay"...


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Thank you, Robbie for the visit, my intention was to make people hungry, he, he....


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Thanks for the visit, Zsuzsy, in some parts of continental Croatia we use many recepies which originate from Hungary.


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Hi, Craig,

well it is "mashed potatoes", I made spelling mistake.

I really do know how to cook, but also adore when somebody else is cooking FOR ME...

With 4 children it is great that you had time even for cooking turkey soup!!!

Recepies are coming soon... cheers.

With 4 children you did excellent job even with turkey soup.


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Ha, ha, ha, Green Lotus I love when somebody else is cooking FOR ME.

Thank you for the visit and comment...


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

No problems, Universal Laws, recepies will follow soon, I just need to translate my experience in words...


Am I dead, yet? 6 years ago

-sigh- now I am starving! I should love to visit Croatia! Not only have you shown us such a beautiful country--but good eats as well!

Beautiful and tasty hub--shame there aren't samples of these goodies =D


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Hehe, there will be recepies comming soon. So with a little bit of effort... you will be able to have samples on your table. Thank you so much AIDY for the visit and comment.


dinkan53 profile image

dinkan53 6 years ago from India

Is there any Borsch in Croatia?


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Hmmm, Dinkan, we cook a lot of vegetable soups and stewes altough we do not name them "Borshcs" or "Borsch". Other Slavic countries are not our neibhours, so we name the meals differently. But is very possible that some recepies are completely similar to some type of Borsch.


WriteAngled profile image

WriteAngled 6 years ago from Treorci, Cymru

Licki sir - oh how I miss it! I also miss the fish market in Zagreb, and the wild mushrooms and oh so cheap peppers in the main market.


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

I can imagine, WA... licki sir (especially smoked) is wonderfull! I am originally from Zagreb (now living on the coast) so know what you mean. Recepies will follow soon, preparing them already.

Thank you for the visit...


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 6 years ago

Tatjana-Mihaela, Yummmy! Looks really tasty and looks lot a lot of luv has gone into the preparations as well! Thank you for sharing, Blessings!


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Thank you so much, Deborrah, preparing the recepies as well. Thanks for the visit and comment.


livelonger profile image

livelonger 6 years ago from San Francisco

Love Croatian food! I remember going to the vegetable market to fetch the ingredients for my aunt, who would cook lunch for us when we went to the beach (na otoku Brac) and we would spend a couple of hours eating with friends, before cleaning up and taking a nap. Ahhhh the Dalmatian lifestyle! :-)

Looking forward to the recipes! I made a hub with my aunt Biserka's favorite recipes, too.


PB 6 years ago

i am doing a report on croatia and this really helped.....thanks!


Alex K 6 years ago

Thank you Tatjana-Mihaela. I am not a regular in the kitchen but resolved to rediscover the many wonderful foods I grew up with. I always regretted not spending more time in the kitchen with my Croation mother -- before she passed away several years back. I thought all those wonderful recipes were lost to me forever. Not so. Simply looking at the pictures made my mouth water uncontrolably and took me back to my childhood. I'm trying a simple recipe to start, stuffed peppers, which I've made before.. but not for many, many years. I always forgot to add a bit of water to soften up the mince meat mix. The only difference is I, we, immersed the peppers in tomato sauce and cooked it very slowly; for at least two hours. It's cooking now and the smell is wonderful! My only problem is figuring out what to try next. Thank you again Tatjana. You site has made my day.


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Thank you so much, Alex, you are very welcome here!


Mr Nice profile image

Mr Nice 6 years ago from North America

Kako si Tatjana,

How is life & work? I always wonder why you look so healthy in the pictures.:D Now I know because you love to eat........hahaha

I don't see any reason Why not when there is variety of mouth watering food.

I know potatoes are the staple food eaten in most of eastern Europe & Russia. My Ex Russian girl friend all she eats is Potatoes & Cabbage lots of it. That is why people call Russian people Ruska kapuska(Cabbage) because they eat too much cabbage.

All dishes looks so delicious because I love to eat too. I think it will be fun whenever I will visit Croatia.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Always love, peace & happiness for you.......


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Hehe Tony, I love to eat, but I am so "busy" that I usually do not have enough time to cook...

I just started with eating my own vegetables from my garden....so things will change...

Love and peace


Mr Nice profile image

Mr Nice 6 years ago from North America

Kako si Tatjana,

I know you are way too busy now, I have to wait for your feedback forever.

Take it easy don't work too hard. You know they say.......

~Hard work never killed anybody but why take a chance....:D

This morning I hit 200,000 views of my hubs, my hub traffic is wonderful, all kosher Google organic......I mean 75% of my traffic.

I think just good luck with Google keywords because I don't promote my hubs anywhere else.

Wow, that is great fresh veggies from your own garden, I believe your hard work is paying off.

so things will change......do you mean your pictures will look different........hahah.:D

Sorry for not visiting your hubs that often, I am busy on & off too.

It is is always nice to hear from you. Have a wonderful day.

Always love, peace & happiness for you....


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Congratulations on 200.000, Tony... you really deserve it because you all make us laugh, what is so great. Thank you.

I often cannot reply on messages, because I am usually 4 days at week on the island (Iz is just behind island Ugljan, which is near Zadar), and there we still do not have Internet connection ( we have to start with building soon, so before we do not finish at least first part of house,( for what I hope it will go reasonably quickly), there is no point to bring PC there.

We also have olive trees there - 40-50 old ones and some new ones (just bought 5 today), so it will be a lot of olive oil in the future...and lot of digging as well, LOL.

I enjoy it...it is much more interesting and relaxing then listening about diseases, hehe....

BTW, I will have to learn from you how you use right tags for hubs, your traffic is excellent. I also hit 200000, but...I think I deserve more, LOL.

Love and peace and many hugs.


Mr Nice profile image

Mr Nice 6 years ago from North America

kako si Tatjana,

You deserve a lot more views than me because you are working very hard for your hubpages. I just work smart.....not hard.:D

How is your veggie garden & Croatian cooking. Your dishes are mouth watering.

You are very lucky to have a house at an Island for quite times because everyone needs that break, even I can take a chance.

I really feel envious about your lifestyle. I wish you good luck with your Island house & keep cooking delicious Croatian food.

Love, peace & lots of happiness.....


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

Haha Tony, no need to be envy on my life-style... I have very many challenges in this life to solve. One of these challenges is this house (2 houses, actually) on island. They are far from being in favorable condition, after 35 years of non-use so we started with renovation of small house etc. Of course, we are doing all work by ourselves only. New Hub about that topic will come soon, as soon as I take few more photos ...

My veggie garden is doing fine (inspite high temperatures here and not regular watering)...

Thank you for your concern and support,

love and hugs


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

So when are you inviting me for dinner? LOL! These all look too delicious and wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Will now look out for the recipes!

Love and peace

Tony


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 5 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA Author

You can come tonight Tony, my boyfriend is cooking (under my guidance, of course)

Love and hugs


hughesanovic 4 years ago

hi Tatjana,

love your recipes especially stuffed peppers.

i have been on the net to buy a Peka and have been told there is a blacksmith shop in Zadar,but cannot find the address,do you know of it,i was lucky enough to taste food cooked in the peka-WOW especially mountain potatoe would love to buy one and cook it myself,cannot seem to find in australia!!!

regards Alan

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