FOOD AND DRINK
It is hard to imagine a Montenegrin from the olden days caring too much for what he eats. Firstly because- with a few exceptions- he didn't have much to eat and second since, until well into the 20th c, food was foremost a means to survive and not a pleasure. On the other hand, in search of food people, in search of food of people found and tried almost them, preparing them in many imaginative ways. Bearing this is mind you will appreciate more the traditional Montenegrin cuisine which is all about simply prepared straight-forwards tasty food that keeps you will fed.
The climate and geographic condition split the land into two utterly different zones of traditional cookery: the Adriatic one, restricted to the narrow strip by the sea, and the mountains continental zone. The staple foods of the continental part of Montenegro are potato, corn and cereals but above all the dairy product from sheep and cows, the most precious possession of ever highlander. Since milk was difficult to preserve it was by and large converted into cheese (sir). Domestically prepared cheese from range from softer full fat milk is still the most common type enjoyed all over the country. Its forms are not yet standardized and hence it covers a range from softer ( but not creamy), young cheese ( mladi) to semi-aged ( stari) , which is never aged to such an extent that it can’t be cut with a fork. Recently, more people have been encouraged to once more produce prljo, a traditional soft cheese that is low in fat. Kisjelo mijeko (literary “sour milk”) is a kind of yoghurt so thick that is eaten with a spoon; it served with most simple meals or consumed on its own as a refreshing and tasty snack or as a starter. The most cherished dairy specialty is kajmak or skorup, a very fat cream of strong flavor, which is eaten on its own, mixed in many traditional meals but also added to many new dishes as a quintessential ingredient that adds that local feel. One of the old dishes eaten with kajmak is kačamak- a tasty mush usually prepared from cornmeal, similar to Italian polenta; when is referred to as smočani this means that is cooked with melted cheese and kajmak. Similar to this cicvara, where flour is cooked in melted kajmak. When well-prepared both dishes are impossible to resist but to bear in mind that they are also very heavy and that you’ll need to be really hungry to eat a whole portion. Popara or masanica is prepared of stale bread, cheese and kajmak cooked slightly in boiling water; it never caught on as a dish in restaurants but it is frequently eaten at home. These three classic Montenegrin dishes where once considered meals appropriate for lunch but are nowadays eaten also for breakfast or dinner. To drink with these try varenika- cooked milk or grušava, its saltier and fattier version. As the sheep and goats were too valuable for their milk, wool and skin, they were rarely slaughtered for meat, which was eaten only on holidays and by the well-off. Perhaps as a reaction to this forced semi-vegetarian diet practiced for many centuries modern Montenegrins are great lovers of meat, which is often eaten on its own and the large quantities. The meat ( meso) most commonly eaten in the interior is mutton (ovčetina) or the highly-praised lamb (jagnjetina) prepared in many tasty ways such as dried (sušena), cooked (kuvana), steamed ( na pari) , cooked in milk ( u mlijeku) or roasted in a pot placed under the smouldering coals ( ispod sača). Veal ( teletina) is more recent newcomer while chicken (piletina) and pork ( svinjetina) play a minor role in traditional cookery but are found in a number of classic specialties from modern times. One thing you should not miss is pršut-ham, salted and then smoked for a long and served thinly sliced to enhance its delicious taste.
A delicacy which never fails to delight the locals are spit roasts ( pečenje). Today they are in demand at almost all celebrations while some restaurants , mostly highway-inns, have built their fame around them, and despite the fact that they offer various meals most of their guests arrive only for this indulgence. The most usual type of spit roast in Montenegro is lamb (jagnjetina) or piglet (prasetina) both ordered by the kilo, which is a bit of a gamble since the meat comes with bones and other hardly edible parts.
Bread (hljeb) in the old times used to be baked out of barley or, later, corn. Today you can consider yourself lucky if you find these, but wheat bread baked in the restaurants, mostly ispod sača, is a delicacy of its own. Proja is tasty corn bread, rich in fat and sometimes with cheese added to it. Another bread-like snack is priganice, a kind of doughnut served with cheese, kajmak, honey or jam. It is almost impossible to imagine a complete meal without the ever popular pies (pite) such as gužvara and sirnica with cheese and eggs, zeljanica with spinach, onions and cheese, krompiruša with potatoes or heljdija from buckwheat-another crop adapted perfectly to the harsh mountain climate. A special kind of pie is izljevuša whose mixed dough is spilled into to bowl and then baked.
The most typical vegetable ( povrće) in Montenegro is the potato (krtola or krompir) which was introduced in the early 19th c. and from that time on enhanced the diet preventing famine in difficult years. Another well- known vegetable in Montenegro is collard greens (raštan), a plant of cabbage family but of somewhat wilder appearance and taste. Cooked with potatoes and dried mutton it makes a meal of distinctive taste. A dish of similar taste to this one is japraci where veal and rice are rolled in leaves of collard greens. Nettles are also consumed as delicacy, enjoyed mostly in the form of soup (čorba od kopriva). Beans (grah or pasulj) are consumed in several varieties- as thick soup with dried meats (čorbast pasulj) or roasted with lots of onions (prebranac).
Fish (riba) plays a minor role in Montenegrin continental cuisine since most of the areas where far from sizable rivers. However, the vegetarian fare carried through the long and strictly observed fasts proscribed in Orthodox Church was enhanced by river and lake fish. From the native river species trout ( pastrmka or pastrva) and sprout ( mladica) are the only ones to make it to restaurant menus. The situation in continental Montenegro differs only in region around Skadarsko Lake which is incredibly rich in fish, primarily bleak (ukljeva) , carp ( krap or šaran) and sneep (skobalj, rarely consumed these days). The traditional way of preparing bleak is to dry above the fireplace (dimljena) before grilling it, while carp is often fried together with prunes or consumed smoked.
In contrast to continental part, the popular diet in the meantime region was always based on fish from the sea. The range of fresh sea fish in any decent restaurant is wide – hake (oslić), mackerel (skuša), red mullet (barbun), bass ( brancin), gilt-poll (orada), dentex (zubatac), groper (škarpina), eel (jegulja), sole ( list) etc. Sometimes they are priced by the kilo and you can choose a fish proportional to your appetite. The larger fish such as swordfish ( sabljarka) or ray (raža) are served by the slice without bones. The simplest way of preparing, but also the best to retain the taste of the fish, is to grill it smeared with spiced olive oil ( na žaru or more unusually sa gradela). As a side dish with these you can try risotto ( rižoto) sometimes also colored by squid-ink (crni rižoto), chard ( blitva) with potatoes or a simple potato salad. The other ways to enjoy your fish are pržena-fried in olive oil, vinegar and spices, then pohovana-fried in breadcrumbs, or typically for Montenegro –from a pot kept under the coals (ispod sača) . Fish soup (riblja čorba) is prepared from various kinds of fish cooked for the longer the better, with every day chef keeping his ingredients and their proportion a secret. Other fruits of the sea are also frequent on menus –squid ( lignje), scampi ( škampi), rose shrimps (kozice of gambori) and lobster ( jastog) being the usual selection.
Octopus (hobotnica) can be prepared in several tasty ways but is most popular as salad ( salata od hobotnice) served as starter. Mussels ( mušlje or dagnje) are as a rule eaten na buzaru-stewed in a tasty sauce of wine, oil, garlic, and parsley. The second most important ingredient of maritime cuisine are olives (masline), still grown in many areas along the coast ( mostly around Bar to Ulcinj as well as on the Luštica peninsula) and their oil, the only oil as far as the chefs of the Adriatic are concerned. One of the specialties here is the old, ripe cheese kept in olive oil (sir iz ulja). As with all the other delicacies from the seaboard, this mixture is also seasoned with aromatic herbs which grow in abundance on the hill-sides, such as rosemary, sage, parsley, etc. These are also an important ingredient in creating pašticada, a beef stew served with makaruli-macaroni of black wheaten flour. Two specialties specific to the town of Ulcinj are banje (okra) served with veal , and imam bajedi-eggplant braised with onions, garlic and tomato and spices.
In the last century Montenegrin cuisine outshone its previous simplicity. Dishes from neighboring lands were adopted and others were created from local ingredients in a more modern fashion. The traditional dishes which are found all over the Balkans became familiar in Montenegro to such an extent that nobody considers them foreign any more. One of the most popular is sarme, sauerkraut rolls stuffed with minced meat and rice, they are prepared mostly at home in large quantities and people live on them for days as it considered that they got better with time. Punjene paprika are bell peppers stuffed with minced meat, rice and tomatoes. Djuveč is a rich casserole in which you will find meat accompanied by potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, onions, eggplant etc.
Pilav is dish of oriental origin with sliced chicken baked together with rice and onion. Sauerkraut ( kisjeli kupus) is also featured as a popular winter salad sprinkled with hot paprika. Turšija is a name for various kinds of of vegetables (cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes) which are pickled in brine and eaten during the winter. In the summer, fresh garden salads of tomato, cucumbers, onions and peppers are often consumed. The most popular amongst them is a relative newcomer from Serbia –šopska salata, combined out of all these vegetables and then covered with soft cheese. A popular addition to many dishes is ajvar- a pasty mix of baked peppers, eggplant and garlic similar of salsa. The most popular soup is restaurants these days is teleća čorba, a creamy concoction of vegetables and veal the melts in the mouth. Similar to it is the mushroom soup ( čorba od pečuraka) while pileća supa is clear chicken broth.
The most-loved new arrival is grilled meat (roštilj) called commonly leskovački, named after the south Serbian town from which it gets its distinctive form and excellent taste. Almost all of the places in which you can eat will have some specialty from the grill, and though these can considerably vary in quality they are very tasty. Grilled meat Leskovac-style is also the base for many fast food eateries and kiosks on which the young population can live for days. In smaller towns the kebab grills (ćevabžinica) are more or less the only kind of places to sit down and enjoy a meal. The most popular of the grilled dishes are ćevapi-small minced meat rolls ( usually ten of them) , pljeskavica- a minced pork and veal roll sprinkled with spices, ražnjici- slices of veal and pork grilled on skewers. All of these are eaten with large amounts of cropped onions ( crni luk) but in simple places that is all you will get with them so you should opt for a salad on the side.
There is an enormous number of Italian restaurants in Montenegro and on top of this usual non-national type of restaurants also bases its menu on various pizzas, pastas or lasagna. Note that many of the original Italian recipes have been remodeled slightly to suit local taste better, which in most cases means more meal at fat. Others are more fully out of local specialties such a kajmak, kulen ( spicy sausage), pršut etc. and offer an interesting crash course in the flavors of Montenegro. The new dishes prepared with traditional ingredients are a regular feature of all menus. Njeguški stek is veal filled with njeguški pršut ham and feta or some other cheese. Similar to it are popeci ( sometimes additionally labeled podgorički) –veal stuffed with cheese and ham, fried and breadcrumbs.
The list of deserts in most restaurants is not particularly inventive: ice cream ( sladoled), fruit salads ( voćni kup), pancakes ( palačinke) and similar. The situation is better pastry shops ( poslastičarnica) where you will find a mix of sweets influenced by Vienna and those oriental origin ( baklava, kadaif, tufahija …). In older establishments you will also find boza, a refreshing drink made out of corn flour.
Bakeries (pekara) in Montenegro have grown out into a distinctive brand visited in the morning, at midday or late at night primarily for the reason of obtaining a cheap and tasty snack. Bakeries served almost exclusively a wide array of salty pastries, though some might have sweet ones too. The major test of any bakery is its burek, a greasy round pie with meat, cheese, mushrooms or with no feeling consumed traditionally with yoghurt sold on spot. Other snacks found here are pogačice (small leafy breads ), pite ( classic pies in many variations as well as croissants, sandwiches or even slices of pizza.
Considering all of eating habits of Montenegro vegetarians will not have an easy time. Only the better restaurants will have a vegetarian menu, in some you will be able to compile a meal of salads and side dishes, and in others, especially in smaller establishments and in far flung places, trying to order a non-meal dish is going to raise eyebrows or will even be considered as next to impossible.
The best known drink of the Balkans is rakija, a generic name for a potent spirit distilled from various kinds of fruit. Making one’s own at home is still a matter of pride for any respectful rural household, resulting in a great variety of tastes depending on the quality and skills of the marker. In the region where vine is cultivated one makes lozova rakija ( called simply loza by those who feel more familiar with it), prepared from grapes and similar to Italian grappa. The distinctive taste of Montenegrin lozova comes from the indigenous grapevine variety vranac but those made of other grapes can be equally tasty. The one brand synonymic with Montenegro is “Crnogorska lozova rakija” produced in large quantities by “Plantaže” from Podgorica and found all over the country. You can’t really miss it and, in any case, to spend your holiday in Montenegro without savoring this drink would be a great pity. Two more prestigious brands from the same producer are “Previjenac” and “Kruna”. Two other well know shops are “Sjekoloća” from Crmnica and “Institutova” produced by the Biotechnical Institute, but both are out of reach for those with a lighter purse. Other rakijas made in Montenegro are šljivovica from plums, kruškovača from pears and kajsijevača from apricots.
None of these are branded but they can still be found on the menus of many restaurants. Climate favorable for growing vineyards is found only in coastland and around Lake Skadarsko. The most popular region that kept its production is Crmnica, around the townlet of Virpazar on Skadarsko Lake, though its output is also only a fraction of what it used to be. The two domestic sorts native to area dominate-vranac and kratošija. Vranac (“the black one”) in particular has grown to be associated with Montenegro. It is a wine of dark ruby color, with a robust and fully-bodied aroma. This is also the wine offered in many restaurants in this region under the name domaće ( “domestic”). The main producer of wine in Montenegro is the one state-owned “Plantaže” company with is huge vineyards in Ćemovsko polje south of Podgorica. Here they produce an array of red wines such as the “Crnogorski vranac”, “Crnogorski cabernet” and “Crnogorski merlot”. White wines are represented by the native sort of this warm, lowland area “Crnogorski krstač” –which is grown nowhere else in the world- as well as “Crnogorski krstač”- which is grown nowhere else in the world-as well as by “Crnogorski Chardonnay”, “Crnogorski Chardonny”, “Crnogorski Sauvignon” and “Podgoričko bijelo” . The 0.7 bottles are filled with premium wine while those one liter are quality wines. The large production of these fine wines fully covers the needs of Montenegro and you will find them in all shops and restaurant.
“Trebjesa” in the town of Nikšić is the only brewery in Montenegro but its “Nikšićko pivo” beer is of such quality that one tends to look no further. Apart from this palatable lager it also produces an excellent tamno ( dark) variety as well as premium “Nik Gold” and light “Nik Cool” .
The origins of medeovina ( mead) go back to the early middle ages when this alcoholic beverage of fermented honey was made and consumed by the old Slavs, who were celebrated as the most skillful beekeepers of Europe. The high pastures with their many aromatic flowers are still ideal for bees and the recipe for mead has not been forgotten. This sweet but refreshing drink is found in many national restaurants but you can also savor it from many individual producers. If you purchase a bottle of two of medovina pay attention because unless kept refrigerated the fermenting process will continue and it will become fizzy and eventually undrinkable.
A drink inseparable from a friendly chat in a street café or at home is coffe ( kafa) which is as a result drunk in large quantities all over in Montenegro . Coffee is also the drink you will be offered upont entering someone’s house and and with which each meal is usually rounded off. Until not long ago, when ordering “ a coffee” you would without any doubt be served a strong, black coffee, called turska ( Turkish) or just crna ( black), made out of grounded coffee beans added a boiling water in small copper pots called džezva. Upon ordering, it is customary to specify the quantity of sugar you want in-slađa for sweet, srednja for medium, gorča without any sugar-otherwise you will get sugar to sweeten it yourself. In cafes caring for old time customers the coffee will be accompanied by a glass of cold water and in some places even with piece of Turkish delight. Nowadays it has become more fashionable to drink espresso and you will find that many trendy cafes and restaurants won’t go to the trouble of preparing Turkish coffee. Nes ( kafa) is generic name for all types of instant coffees, regardless of the brand ; you can order it hot (topli) or cold (hladni).
Montenegrins are very fond of mineral water (kisjela voda) and there are several domestic brands around like “Rada” from Bijelo Polje. The mineral water will often be served with glass or rakija of coffee. Asking for water (voda) will usually get you tap water and to order bottled water ask for flaširana voda.
In a sun and sea ambience fish, wine and olive oil make up the “Holy Trinity” of Mediterranean cuisine, which is the basic of Montenegrin seaside cuisine. That thousands year old Mediterranean nutritional philosophy, gave the Montenegrin area authentic products: domestic wines, barska žutica ( far away known autochthon olive sort), as well as a wealth of European sea bass, meager and leer fish from the sea near the river Bojana delta. The main character of a seaside kitchen is making use of plenty of piquant grass ( the supreme position belonging to parsley and rosmary), vegetables especially potatoes, kapula (onion) and garlic, and different sorts of green vegetables: spinach, Swiss chard and žućenica ( sort of vegetable….There are also pastries, pasta such as makaruli ( type of pasata), or doughnut and ruštula ( type of rolls).
Even here it is a well known proverb that fish, during its carrier from sea to table, has to swim three times: in sea, then in olive oil and final in wine. This rule is justified in practice and specially is practical in preparing of blue fish. Blue fish and a red wine are a brand of the Mediterranean. Even if white bite is more expensive, blue fish has more nutritive value. This magic formula being-omega three fatty acids that are found in mackerel, bonito, pilchard, tuna, swordfish, are the cure for our veins. So, blue fish together with olive oil elixir and antioxidants from wine and you have a new trinity that none can refuse.
Blue Fish has its strong taste so it is better for dinner with red wine. White bite, roasted with vegetables or just cooked is a better meal during the daylight, especially in the summer time. With white fish one has to drink chilled white wine. The separation on blue and white fish is made for the cuisine aspects. Key difference is in dryness of meat and quantity of some specific fatty acids. In Montenegrin seaside cities you can always find fresh gilthead sea bream, barb, common sea bream as well as mullet, red mullet, red scorpion fish and frog hish- white bites. During the wintertime fisherman are luckier with piper crowned and hake. Sea eel, moray, ray are in lesser demand, but without them, especially without sea eel or conger, as they call it on the seaside, one cannot imagine a good fish stew.
SALTED EUROPEAN SEA BASS
One of the most precious sea fish is European sea bass. Along the Montenegrin coast it is known as –lubin in Boka, smudut in Pretrovac and Paštrovići, and levrek on river Bojana delta. It is appropriate for all kind of meal preparation, it’s also good component for cooked fish preparation. But, there is one specific kind of preparation you need a European sea bass of one, possible tow or even tree kilograms. You have to open fish with a short cut and clean it without washing, with rag soaked in seawater as to preserve its inner liquids. Than you have to put the fish in pepper, fill it with parsley and lemon. After that you put the fish in a dish full of sea salt. You have to more salt, enough to cover the fish from ever y side. You can also use foil. The fish has to be roasted at 200 degrees Celsius. Roasting time depends on fish size. When you take it out, the solidified salt shape has to be broken with a knife and fish is ready to be eaten. This taste is unbelievable. All liquids stay within the fish. If you use domestic salt for this kind of preparation, you can say that you prepared fish in a “sea extract” . Fish takes from the salt enough minerals, which surrounds it in fish’s natural ambient- sea. And that is why is so important for you to use sea salt not stone salt.
European sea bass could also be prepared with vegetables, under the foil or on the barbecue, but generally is better for blue fish and it is better to cook white bite.
COOKED MIXED SEA FISH
European sea bass is one of the most important ingredients for cooking mixed types of white bites. It is the one of the best way of preparing a cooked fish with vegetables, and one of the best ways in general.
Sea bass, gilthead sea bream, barb, mullet, godlin, White Sea bream, as much types as possible. When you prepare so many fish sorts, two kilos is enough for four people, it is pity to throw out the base in which we cooked those fish. Instead use it to prepare on great fish soup that indeed is a miracle cure. Milovan emphasize that a real compliment for a cook is that soup content all of aromas that comes from the sea and near the sea.
Preparation starts with cleaned fish, washed in salt water, and put in a steamer, add onion, garlic clove, pepper, laurel, celery, basil and, 100 ml of olive oil per a kilogram fish. Pour with cold water; add a spoon of vinegar, and little bit of sea salt. Fish is ready when it is easy to set apart meat from bones.
Then you just have to take it out and put it on a plate, pouring the base. We filter the rest and add small pasta, or even better rice, so here they are warm “sea soup”.
FISH STEW-MEDITERRANEAN TASTE
Beside all possible meals nothing is closely specific and delicious as fish stew-fish with vegetables and spices, a half roasted and then cooked within tomatoes juice.
In this meal you can use any kind of fish but the best solution is red fish, and then monk-fish, mullet, white sea beam, fork beard, dusky, conger….The same rule as for the steaming fish, as many sorts of fish as possible make the fish stew better. No other meal is more characteristic for the Mediterranean that this one. Fish, onion and garlic, laurel, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil , caper…mixed and served with polenta. Before you start to eat this warm, a bit hot and peppery mix of sea ingredients, it is good to drink some brandy as aperitif. During the meal red wine is excellent. In preparation you have to put every spice and vegetable in its place. First, put the onion in olive oil with pepper. And wait until it become reddish. Then you can add garlic, laurel, fish, tomatoes juice or a tomatoe, and white wine and water. Of course, you can try something else but the best taste is produced when you put onions first. The meal is first boiled and then slowly cooked on a lower temperature without mixing.
RED FISH AS SPICE
Red scorpion fish prepared in fish stew or just in steamer is recognizable not just as a tasty fish but a spice for every other fish. With every pouring of fish stew in your dish you taste a special aroma. With every new pouring you are closer to the source that gives a color, fullness and character to the whole meal. When you try a bit of a red fish from that pile of different kinds of fish- you find the secret of every fish stew.
OCTOPUS ROASTED WITH POTATOTES
A three kilogram octopus, caught just a day ago, is cleaned and placed on ice to lay there at least a day. With this much, the fishermen say, it is pity to prepare just a salad of it. It is because you need to cook octopus for hours making it half smaller, for preparing a salad. When roasted, octopus keeps most of its size because the whole process last much shorter. But let’s go back to our octopus on ice. After unfreezing we have to beat it with wooden hammer. The ice is important to soften the octopus’ firm meat, and the hammer is for the same reason. In general, after beating, we put into huge bowl and cover with olive oil, fresh rosemary; it also could be dried our rosemary, with a little bit of salt and pepper. Around it we put larger bits of potato and altogether put it into the oven, better yet under the sač, and wait until it becomes red. The meal is ready at the same time as potatoes because octopus cooking time is shorter then when we cook it for a salad.
MUSSELS ON BUZARA (WINE, OLIVE OIL, BREAD CRUMBS, SPICES)
Mussels have their own place in Montenegrin cuisine. We recognize these as something untouchable, hidden, so mussels, in all Mediterranean countries and so Montenegro have a special place in cuisine hierarchy. Not only because of its believed aphrodisiac forces but for its taste when prepared in wine and bread crumbs with garlic and parsley.
In olive oil we put a few garlic, parsley pepper, laurel, and kilo of washed mussels. We cook it in a steamer until the shells open it. Then we pour a bit of good white wine, basil and bread crumbs.
Another way of preparing in that braise all the ingredients previously and after the wine add mussels to take out their liquids and mix with buzara.
When you can smell smoked dried bleaks, or spiced cabbage with kastradina (smoked dried mutton), or you can see eel or crap, reddish within a terrain dish with rice, it is a sign that you will cross a mountain wall which separate seaside part of Montenegro with its central parts. Thanks to the river Bojana, which is a link between lake and the sea from one and Boka Kotorska that from another end of coast is widespread to inner part of Montenegro and bring with itself a Mediterranean spirit. The p
FRESH AND SMOKED
Under the morning sunlight a small boat is passing through water floras to nets and cylinders in which fisherman catch two regionally famous and precious sorts of fish-European crap, Skadarsko Lake crap and eel. Of course, beside those two sorts, bleak is also important, and endemic sort and well renowned delicacy in this cuisine, especially if it is smoked and then prepared on the zeal or like a salad. Carp is the biggest of that kind of the lake. It can surpass 20 kilograms, but for preparing the meals it is preferable that carp is fresh and about three or four kilograms. When you clean such big carp and parched it is proper measure for pan, griddle and it are enough for a four people. Bigger carps, usually, are smoked and made to become well renowned famous delicacies. Smoked carp, cooked or marinaded, become fish delicacies about which stories are told and for which it is worth to come back to Skadarsko Lake, again and again.
KRAP U TAVU (CARP IN PAN)
There is more traditional way of preparing the carp. But a little bit exotic is “krap u tavu”, meal made of fish, vegetables and a several sort of fruits-apple, quince and dried plums. Combination of vegetables and fruits neutralize fish’s characteristic taste, which is stronger trough summer time. With such a mix, the meal becomes softer, camouflage with additives but balanced so you still know that is fish.
For pan, a carp of three kilograms is enough. For this meal you need a lot of onions, about two third of carp’s weight. On the occasion-two kilograms are a proper measure. You have to put a portion of carp to fry in oil. Before if you can add a half fried in a pan or, like in this case, to fry in griddle until you prepare a sauce of vegetables and fruits. The first step is to braise pieces of onions with oil and after onion turn into golden brown you have add three spoons of flour, one spoon of red-hot chilly pepper and five spoons of tomato juice. When it combines you can combines you can add water and a quarter of dried plums that were dried in hot water. Then you can add the rest of fruits-sliced sour apple, quince, spoon of sugar and the end a few spoons of wine vinegar, salt by taste. With such a mix we poured carp that were baked, and altogether put to roast for more than half hour. Of course this meal is much more tasty if you put in crepulja, under the sač.
EEL WITH RICE
Fat and caloric eel usually is prepared on barbecue, zeal or in cerpulja, under the sač. Special taste is when it is prepared with rice. Rice absorb surplus of fish fat, absorbs also a fish liquids, so eel with rice, onion, and spice has softer taste. This special effects gives to this meal addition of dried plums. After a few bites of fish and rice, dried roasted plums come as intermezzo of strong intensive taste. And that is how you can make a pause for a wine to punch a bite of fat fish meat. This very tasty and esteemed meal is more suitable for wintertime, but, for real gourmand there is prime time whenever.
As usual when rice is a component of some fish, first you have to roast a bit of onion in oil. Approximately, for every kilo of eel you need tree of four onions. Not too much cut, it will be roasted in oil just to become squashy. Already washed rice we put in a pan and mix it with onion. Such a pile we arrange around tray or cerpulja, pour with water but carefully so that the pile doesn’t become more thick and liquid. Above the rice we put parts of roasted eel with salt and pepper. The whole composition of rice and fish are poured at the end with olive oil and put to roast. It is served warm with green salad or tomatoes with olive oil.
SMOKED BLEAK SALAD
In Montenegrin history bleak was a strategic export product. Strings of bleaks were often used for a tramp on a market. Bleak scales were used as emulsion is artificial pearls production in Rijeka Crnojevića.
Small but marvelous fish of silver color, mostly looks like sea than a lake fish. In this cuisine the most esteemed were winter-smoked bleaks that you can find on Montenegrin markets during those cold days.
Because smoked bleak is very salted, before preparation you have to wash in water. After two washes it is ready for boiling in fresh hot water, to become soft. After that we put it is a dish, poured with olive oil, vinegar, garlic and parsley what was already mixed and prepared for it. Another way preparing smoked bleak is a short fry in oil. You have to fry both sides of bleak for a few minutes until they produce specific aromas and become reddish. Then the meal is ready. It could be and entrée or a main meal with some salads. With onion, or better solution with potato and onion salad, goat cheese and olives, fried smoked bleak is excellent base for a good glass of some drink.
PODGORICA TROUT PREPARATION
Beside carp sorts there are several sorts of trout which go to the nearby affluent-Morača River, from Morača in Cijevna river and river Zeta. It is and endemic sort like strun ( salmo dentex) whose behavior is similar to salmon’s; it migrates between Morača River and the Lake.
Besides strun, the river is home to the brook banks trout, salmo marmoratus. Californian trout was introduces. All those sorts can be prepared in Podgorica way of preparing- in combination with yogurt and garlic. The difference lay only in its weight, if they are small you can fry it integral. This delicacies are made in two phases. You have to fry first part of prepared fish and then put it into some deep plate, covered with garlic, salt yogurt, then fish again, garlic and yogurt. For kilo or kilo and half of fish you need approximately about tow liters of milk, one garlic and parsley as a decoration at the end. You can make a sauce made of milk, salt and pressed garlic when you mix it in milk then pour the fish in a plate. This solution is more appropriate it you have to pour bigger parts of fried fish.
RAŠTAN WITH SMOKED MEAT
Central part of Montenegro, especially area around Cetinje and Skadarsko Lake, is well known by raštan prepared with smoked meat, and with some mountain’s spices. Raštan as a meal is most frequent during wintertime, at the same time as smoked sausages, pork legs and other caloric bites. Raštan is a sort of cabbage. It is also knows as lack cabbage.
Raštan is tastier if you prepare larger meal. That is why in old Montenegro from preparing raštan they used big steamer to put it in fireplace or cooking stove. Special adds that raštan and smoked meat makes more tasty is morač, kind of spice which has its characteristic, exotic and strong aroma. You have to be careful with it, to put more it will be the dominant aroma of the meal. True cooks knew the right measure for cabbage and meat and spice, for which you need a long cooking experience. When you cook raštan, you have to wash its leaves previously and to cut its stalks. All those leaves we put together and cut on a centimeter or two long lines, then put in into boiled water and cook. In another steamer we have to cook sausage, pork legs or some other part of smoked meat ( smoked bacon is excellent for it too).
When meat and raštan are half cooked we add potatoes. This meal is ready to be served when potatoes is cooked enough.
JAPRACI ( LEAVES OF RAŠTAN OR VINE WITH BEEF, BACON OR SMOKED MEAT AND RICE)
Japraci are made of new leaves of raštan or vine with cow meat, bacon or smoked meat and rice. We left leaves to boil a few minutes in salt water with two spoons of vinegar. Meat for filing could be triturated or tiny cut. The best solution is baby beef in combination with bacon or tiny cut kastredina. For kilo raštan we have to put a half-kilogram of meat, 100 grams of rice, spices, quarter of smoked meat, three middle sized onions.
First we fry cut onion until it becomes soft, then we add meat and rice and let to be fried. Then we can add salt, pepper and dried parsley. With this pile we fill leaves of raštan and all of it rolls sa that we can put it on a bigger spoon. Rolled japraci put in steamer, poured with water and boil it. After boiling, leave it in a steamer for an hour and a half or two, not on a high temperature. Smoked meat that we mentioned above could be put within “roll” leaves or just to be put inside the steamer.
When is ready we can add browned flour and red pepper. This specific meal of softly acidic taste is good in combination with sour cream or thick domestic yogurt.
It is an old rule that you need a good drink with a good meal. Even if he can by Montenegrin wines and Nikšićko beer (beer from Nikšić, town in central Montenegro) in Canada, Milovan is happier when he can say cheers to his friends in Montenegro, with meals that taste you cannot copy and serve somewhat else, out of his home country.
Brandy and wine are number one drinks number in Montenegro. Lozovača, šljiva, kruška ( peer brandy), are main sorts of brandy Montenegro. Wine is appropriate as aperitif and digestive, but before lunch it is recommended a cup of good brandy or šljiva as a preparation for flavors that wait for you served at the table. In such situation wine is something that connects all those tastes and put the full stop at the end. Montenegro is well known by its class kind of wine Vranac. This sort started to grow around the Skadarsko Lake, in place called Crminca. Renascence of this sort was the Ćemovsko field and enterprise “Plantaža” . This firm produces famous wine pro corde, which is a favorite on every meridian. Besides Vranac, autochthon white wine sort is Krstač, which is recommended to serve with a fish, other sea specialties and white sort of meat.
Besides wine, special ritual is drinking of beer. Domestic from Nikšić with a more than one hundred year tradition, this brand is known far away from its country. Apart from the alcohol lives traditional in less alcohol drinks such as medovina ( honey wine ), or vodnjika, drink made of wild peer. Those drinks are made by an old, traditional way of fermented honey or fruits, then with drainage of the drinks-something link preparation of wine.
Traditional way of living is still alive on the high Montenegrin Mountains. Clean, fresh air, many waiter springs, good valleys, and healthy floras. Ideal area for a health white flocks and maize, buck-wheat, potatoes cultivation…Milk pours from pasture grounds, milk way goes to cheese and cream. Without it’s difficult to imagine cooked potatoes cultivation. Milk pours from pasture grounds, milk way goes cheese and cream. Without it is difficult to imagine cooked potatoes, which is appropriate addition to lamb meat prepared under the sač.
KAČAMAK (HARD CORE MUSH) AS AN ISTITUTION
Where lays the secret of a good mash, traditional meal made of potatoes, flour, plum, cheese and milk? Very simple question- in every of it before named. Potatoes, cheese, cream, techniques of mixture of those things and putting together is really good if you drink domestic yoghurt with it.
The taste of kačamak depends on ingredients quality, are they put the prime time in wooden item for beating kačamak until it becomes compact mush. The answer knows pastors from katun who prepare and eat it on very traditional way, from steamer.
SMOČANI KAČAMAK ( SPICED KAČAMAK)
For preparation of this delicious from mountain (at home) we have to put a kilo of potatoes into a streamer. We have to salt potatoes, and to add a few palms breadth of maize or wheat flour. You can cook potatoes without peeling and then peel it in and cook again with a flour. In any case, after adding flour, with kacamaš we make a hole in the middle and rest to cook for a half an hour. Spill out more liquids after removing from cooking stove and then start beating until we get unique soft surface. It is not easy and quick job and you have a lot of willingness and strong hands. That is why this part of preparation is usually predetermined for men’s. The rest of family courage him and watch after him. Is such compact pile we add few spoon of cream and piece of old cheese. So once again we have to mix it in one compact pile of gorgeous aroma and taste. Thick yoghurt is a thing that lack.
POPARA (BREAD, MILK, WATER, SALT, CHEESE)
This characteristic meal are made of pieces of previous day bread, milk, a piece of cheese and plum,or something else we could find in the kitchen at that moment. But what is important to know that you have to blend it all the time. When it is finished it is very tasty and very caloric so we often offer for breakfast with a glass of milk.
CICVARA (MELTING COW CHEESE AND FLOUR)
One stronger, caloric meal is cicvara-made of new cow cheese and flour that are melting in pan on a law temperature. If, for preparing kačamak the most thing is mix of potatoes, flour, cheese and cream, for which we need muscles, for preparing cicvara the most important thing is cook techniques.
Traditional way of preparing understood a granny that takes ćedilo (cloth or drainage) round shaped new cow cheese, and put in a pan milk products, until her grandchildren like small cats crawling around kitchen and waiting to see in what will turn granny’s cheese. We need to cut cheese on small pieces it we want to dissolve it and then, without oil, put it on a pan and fry. The secret is in the new cheese itself that release its liquids. In such we cheese we add flour and mix until it become compact. The pile is getting thicker and release fat, so it is a sign that cicvara is close to be ready for eating. When fat is withdrawn cicvara is ready and then you can add salt. Cicvara is the best if we serve it with potatoes and yoghurt.
MEAT UNDER THE SAČ
Taste of roast lamb meat, goat meat or veal prepared in combination with potatoes in crepulja under the sač it is difficult to imagine. You have to taste it. The secret of its taste and aroma la in approved combination of crepulja, terrain dish for roast and sač, metal cover over which we put zeal. All you need for this meal could be finished in just a few steps. We put salted and peppered meat, with other spices and with potatoes, in plate. Then we cover it and put zeal over it. The meal keeps its aroma and taste of this meal cannot with some other delicious. Specific ritual when cook in front of people’s eyes, uncover zeal, pick up cover and let meat and potatoes aromas make them drunk. It is holiday for all of senses.
It is very simple for preparing, not much complicating and very healthy and tasty meal-veal prepared in steamer. It depends on a steamer but kilo or two is enough for four people, but for a more persons you need a bigger steamer and more veal, like for the raštan or beans. Celery is bound part of this meal, beside meat, then pepper, salt, basil, onion, on the fresh paprika, if you like it can be hot paprika, and a few carrots
When he makes a meal for four people he uses middle-sized onion and put on the grill just to become brown and to produce some liquid. After that we put such prepared onion in water together with meat. Water has to cover meat. Then we add celery, pepper, paprika, basil and carrots. We take out cooked meat from a steamer, put it on platter and poured with one or two ladle of soup and leave until we start second part of preparing. In soup where we cooked meat we add noodles, and it will be hors-d’oeuvre. Meat is getting colder until we cook soup, and it is ideal with mustard and horseradish. You enjoy in this meal drinking a white wine. Everything in this meal is composed that every new bite is curable.
LAMB MEAT IN MILK
Except potatoes, milk and milk products, meat were very hardly ever served meal. The reason is simple: flock was life resource. But, lamb meat was delicious for special occasion and of course the key element at the table for guest or traveler, because cult of hospitality understood that you, in such occasion, serve the best you have.
One of extraordinary mountain meal was lamb meat cooked in milk. For preparation of this traditional delicious we need kilo and a half or two of shoulder joint lamb meat and the same quantity of milk. We add carrots, kilo potatoes, laurel, pepper, salt and parsley or celery. We poured meat with a milk into the steamer and then add vegetables and spices. We cook potatoes separately. Cooked meat we cut and put in a deeper dish, add potatoes, carrots and all that we pour with milk in which we cooked. Kids goat meat prepares similar with more spice-garden sage, for better aroma.
It is said that new lamb meat is melt like butter. Specific taste that sticks to palate and somewhere between salty and sweet, with potatoes under the sač and without additives or roasting but with natural warm air, it gives unbelievable taste. If it is known that lambs eat just vegetation in which dominant are curable sort of floras, it is clear why this meat has a high palace.
PAPRIKE IN JARDUM ( SHEEP MILK)
For this meal preparation is important to know that jardum or grušavina is special kind of sheep milk. Deep autumn pasture gives its specific taste and that is wh this milk is thicker and stronger or fatter than usual.
We prepare jardum with continuous mixing on salt milk at a low temperature. When fume appear at the surface of milk it is sign that jardum is ready. It has to be drunk cold and it could be served with meal of after. But for a glass of jardum we need a good base in our stomach. Second part of this meal preparation start with cleaning paprika and then put them in a wooden dish to lay few days to become soft. Over it we pour jardum, add salt and leave to stay there for a two weeks. It is kind of pickled foods.
Priganice (water, flour, salt) are one of characteristic in Montenegrin cuisine. It is kind of dough cake that can be sweet or salt. Priganice are excellent with cheese or cream. It became delicious with plum jam but the best taste it gives with honey. There is a several kind but the most frequent are so called zetske ( Zeta is urban area near capital Podgorica) and Montenegrin.
We make zetske priganice with equal of quantity of milk and water, and scrambled eggs and flour. We put this mixture, neither thick nor watery, with spoon in hot oily pan. We make it without leaven so we also call it raw priganice. This kind is very tiny but very tasty. Montenegrin priganice are more like small balls and its preparation is bit different, when we added flour in a warm water with leaven , and after growing of dough mix it and so on. After we repeat it several times we can start frying. We make small balls in spoon and put it in pan until it become reddish.
In Montenegro exist 3000 sorts of floras. For a comparison, on the whole Balkan Peninsula exist 5000 sorts of flora, and Montenegro is a twentieth part of Balkan area. Diversity of landscape and climate are suitable for this flora wealth, and such different floras are true buffet for bees. And more-every mountain, hill, has its own flora’s cover and that is why honey has specific taste from place to place. In a bee pastor on seaside and around Skadarsko Lake there are so many garden sage, honeysuckle, and in eastern side of mountains Rumija- horse chestnuts. Valley and mountain honey, from pastor’s nectar, are real magic drinks and honey from wood refresh a strength and get stronger b power or confers, lime tree and wood floras.
Where honey is there is also a homey wine, traditional drink of ancient Slovenes that is making even today especially in Cetinje and under Lovcen mountain area.
THREE TENS FOR PATIŠPANJ ( CAKE OF FLOUR, SUGAR AND EGGS)
Within sweets that we were made in old Montenegro, the most frequent and the most universal was patišpanj, cake made of flour, sugar and eggs. It was constant part of meals in all-solemn occasions. You cannot imagine a wedding, family pastor’s day, or some other celebration. Besides the priganice with honey it is for certain the most favorite Montenegrin sweets. It is very simple to making of it-ten eggs, ten spoon of sugar and ten spoon of flavor. After you mix it, you have to bake it, just for a half of hour, on a middle of temperature. Nowadays, some put cook powder.
DRIED FIG TREE, SWEET CHESTNUT, KASARONJE ( WATER PLANT)
Floury line of dried fig tree, airy bag of sweet chestnut or basket of picked up kasaronja ( water plant) were always characteristic for holidays. Christmas table, or were just a temptation for children’s roguish tricks into granny’s food store, attic, cellar.. Fig tree dryness were a way to save this precious fruit for cold days during in the wintertime, especially in seaside, around Podgorica and Skadar Lake. Different sort of fig trees were characteristic for Crmnica and Podgorica’s valley. From the earliest sort, so-called petrovača, which started at the end of June at the beginning of July (until Petrovdan, orthodox saint), until the black sedmakinja (sort which produce fig trees seven times during one year) from Crmnica, at the autumn. Actually, it’s about sort that started on July until the autumn. Specific period during one year is characteristic for other sort of fig trees. For kasaronja, water plant from Skadarsko Lake, even it live in water doesn’t produce fruit without a rain. Tastes of its three-cornered fruits that look like sweet chestnut or almond have to be picked up as green. It is very tasty and esteemed.
Montenegro Hostel Team