Jun 14, 2012

Bosnian meals

One food that most if not all Bosniaks eat outside the home is the much-loved ćevapčići or ćevapi, for which one goes to a ćevabdžinica. This is finger-sized ground meat grilled and served in a split lepinje / somun (Bosnian yeast bread about 10 inches in diameter) and eaten with chopped onions. Typically an order comes with either 6 or 10 ćevapi. This food is so tightly integrated into Bosnian culture that some of the first restaurants established by post-aggresion war (from Serbia and Montenegro) immigrants to the United States usually sold nothing but ćevapi.

There are many opinions on what makes the best ćevapi; some say it should be a mix of veal and lamb, others that it should also include beef. In the United States pack-aged ćevapi are available wherever Bosniaks settled, and although it is now grilled at home and is a favorite picnic food, Bosniaks also eat it at local Bosnian American restaurants. There has been a general replacement of lamb with beef among Bosniaks Americans, and this has included ćevapi, which are generally all beef.
Some restaurants are known for having an exceptional mixed grill: ćevap, a meat patty with onion (pljeskavica), shish kebab (šiš-ćevap), small pieces of veal on a skewer (ražnjići), beef cutlets (đulbastija or culbastija) and lamb kidney. Bosniaks are not big meat eaters, but they like meat mixed grill is a treat. Proportionally, meat makes up about 40 percent of Bosniaks diet.

Trahana or tarhana is a special food prepared in Bosniak homes, and it is considered a specifically Bosnian food, a belief reinforced by a traditional saying tarana. Trahana is a small granular dumpling used in soup and as gruel for babies. Production takes about a week for the dough to sour before it is forced through a traditional sieve (sito za trahanu) to form the grains. It is then dried and stored in a dry place.

Also symbolic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, pita is the most common dish. Bosniaks are especially known for theirs. Like sarma, pita is eaten every day as well as at celebratory meals. When making pita, it is traditional to place the filled dough into a large round pan with sides about one to two inches high (tepsija or tevsija), starting in the center and coiling it around itself until the pan is full. It is cut into wedges for serving to individuals, but if is eaten from the tevsija, people break off pieces with the right hand. It can also be made in individual serving.

Sarma, possibly the food that most symbolizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, is one of those dishes that frequently appears on everyday tables and is requisite at celebratory meals. The rolls are made with beef or lamb (or a mixture) and rice. The cabbage- or sauerkraut-wrapped rolls are stacked in a pan, which ideally is lined with bones or ribs, to which tomatoes or tomato sauce is added; they are then simmered until done. When whole-leaf sauerkraut is not available, chopped sauerkraut can be added to the pan.