It’s time to turn the bias switch on for this post.
Why don’t we have more Serbian food in Toronto?
I’m fairly proud to be part-Serbian and after an extensive 5-week trip to my Mom’s home country in 2014, I was immersed in some of the most satisfying and richest eats I’ll ever put my taste buds on. I thought to myself the entire time, “If they had this stuff in Toronto, my friends would be all over this shit.” It is very hard, if near impossible, to find authentic Serbian fair in Toronto — so if you are interested in some of the best Serbian food choices and are travelling in or around the former Yugoslavian region, I highly recommend the following choices. And since your loonies and toonies are going to get you a bunch of Dinar (Serbian currency,) you’ll find these cheap eats around every Slavic corner.
Photo Source: Ang Sarap
Ask a Serbian what their favourite food is and Ćevapi (CHe-vuhp) will make it right at the top. It’s a grilled dish of mixed minced meat (pork, beef, lamb) and served on a flatbread, known as lepinja, with fresh tomato, sweet onions and crisp lettuce. This is a staple Serbian street food, but is just as popular within Serbian households. If you like kebab or Swedish meatballs, you’ll eat this up. Expect to pay no more than 400 Dinar ($5 CAD) for this juicy delight — but it is completely free if you have your Serbian Baba cooking it up for you.
Pljeskavica (“serbian hamburger”)
Photo Source: Serbian Recipes
What can I say about Pljeskavica (Pleh-Ska-vee-tza)? Picture eating the most tenderest hamburger stuffed in the middle of shawarma. Crunchy pickles, fried onions and a sweet and spicy red pepper paste — this street food is a huge delight to eat for any fast food lover. I would literally have one every single day when visiting Serbia’s capital, Belgrade. If you are ever in the downtown area of Belgrade, you have to try out “Good Food“ , they are known for some of the best Pljeskavica in the city and even let you choose your own toppings!
Musaka (Serbian style Moussaka)
Photo Source: Culture Table
If you grew up with a Serbian family or have any Serbian friends, you will understand their affinity towards Musaka (Moo-Suh-Kuh). Originating from Greece’s Mousaka (although the Serbian version is far superior in my opinion), Musaka is a potato, egg, mayo and beef casserole-esque dish. It is a rich, creamy and satisfying treat to have for dinner. You can find this dish on almost any Serbian diner’s menu at a wide range of costs.
Sarma (Cabbage rolls)
Photo Source: Visit my Country
Most commonly associated with Hungarian food, Sarma (Sar-Muh) is unlike any other Balkan food you have tried. The Serbian version is identical in preparation to its Hungarian counterpart and is most commonly made within the household. This sweet cabbage roll is filled with diced pork, rice, onions, peppers and various local spices. You can find it at most diners on the cheap or enjoy a gourmet version at many 5-star Serbian restaurants in Belgrade.
Photo Source: Belgrade at Night
Forget everything you know about cream cheese. Kajmak (Kai-MaC) gives you the richness of cheese with the smoothness of butter. Commonly eaten on toast for breakfast, Kajmak is melt in your mouth good. Pick a tub up for less than 200 Dinar ($3 CAD) at any grocery store, you will not regret it! Made of unpasteurized and unhomogenized milk, this smooth cheese product is often compared to UK’s clotted cream, though UK’s version doesn’t stand a chance.
Palatschinken (Hungarian/Serbian Crepe)
Photo Source: Serbian Cooking
Whoever said the French invented the perfect pancake? Well, that person has never tasted Palatschinken (Paul-a-chink-a). Made exactly like a crepe but a tad thicker and with a little more lemon zest, Palatschinken is the perfect dessert to enjoy during any season. Walk past any of Belgrade’s famous food streets and you’ll find a Palatschinken stand waiting for you. Choose from Nutella, bananas, sugar, plasma crumbs (Serbian cookie), Eurocreme (Nutella’s mortal enemy), fruit, peanut butter and any other magical topping you can think of. The go-to spot to get your Serbian pancake fix is Peter Pan Palatschinken, though you’ll have to engage with the locals to track this place down, it is nowhere to be found on Google.
Burek with Yogurt
Photo Source: Visit My Country
Last, but certainly not least, Burek (Boo-wreck). Burek is a flaky crust pastry filled with soft cheese, meat, spinach or all three. Burek is a multi-purpose meal. The breakfast version has a simple soft cheese in it goes perfectly with a glass of plain yogurt. The sourness of the yogurt really cuts down on the oil from the pastry. The lunch and dinner versions tend to have ground meat and spinach incorporated. Enjoy it in a cheap Serbian diner or made fresh in a Serbian household.
If Belgrade is not on your travel bucket list anytime soon (which it totally should be) and you want to enjoy some of these Serbian fairs listed above, you can try out Bonimi in Etobicoke (West Toronto) or Bebo’s Authentic Grill on 533 Evans Ave in Etobicoke for an adequate option.
Or, why don’t you just come over to my Baba’s next Sunday dinner?
Did I miss anything? What is your favourite Eastern European dish? Let me know in the comment section down below!