Sep 28, 2012

Bosnian Folk Medicine

Just few decades ago, every settlement in Bosnia, no matter how big it was, had its traditional healers, herbalists, stravari, faladžija, Nowadays, situation is completely different and traditional occupations and crafts are condemned for disappearance. Disinterest of newer generations to preserve cultural heritage is not a problem only in Bosnia but in the rest of Eastern Europe.

1. Klinčići (hidrokela): a sickness that is present in newborns aged up to one year. It is manifested through a swollen scrotum which causes crying, nervousness and lack of sleep. The old Bosniak women regularly control their grandchildren's scrotum out of fear from them having klinčić. They are looking for water inside of them, if they are swollen or if they have changed their colour. This is done for the simple reason that the klinčić wouldn't evolve into a kila (hernia).

Derviš Husagić

Klinčić can be cured in several ways. The most famous way of treatment is for the child to be brought to a folk doctor which possesses the gift of healing which he received from Allah. That gift can only be bestowed upon those children whose father dies before they are born. In Bosnia it is believed that they possess the gift of healing.
The treatment method is very simple; the sick child is laid down on the floor, his legs are raised so that his scrotum is free. The folk doctor makes a circle three times around the scrotum with his heel, clockwise, and the he lightly touches the scrotum with his heel. The therapeutic process is repeated three times. Then the doctor exits the room leaving the parents to dress their child. There is a rule for him that he mustn't turn backwards and that he must say "Alahimanet!" when the parents leave with their child. The most successful doctor in curing Klinčić is Derviš Husagić from Kakanj.

2. Strunjen želudac (Gastritis) If a person feels pain in his stomach right after eating then it is believed in Bosnia that his/her stomach has been moved out of its natural position, to the right or left side of the stomach. One determinant that the stomach has been moved is the pain under the ribs. The Bosniak women that treat such problems are called Želudarice. Before treating the ill they touch their right hand, the part between the index finger and the thumb, and if they feel a knot in form of a small pellet, then they are certain that there are problems with the stomach. That uncomfortable and painful experience can be caused by various factors but the most common are; if a hungry person lifts heavy weight, bad diet, stress, emotional problems, falling and hitting oneself, strong coughs, etc.
Stomach problems can be treated with massages, vacuum or magic. All three methods warrant success.

3. Namještanje pršljena: A large number of people have the "atlas" moved (their first vertebra) which can cause various psychophysical problems. This problem is often first encountered in childhood, caused by falling or sudden head movements. The movement of atlas is noticeable by a barely visible blue line across the nose, it looks like the capillaries burst. A few days after the injury, the child loses appetite and has problems swallowing food. As soon as that happens, the neck should be returned in its natural position so that the vertebra can straighten, because if they stay in that unnatural position, they will cause many problems in the man's life.
If a child falls down suddenly, there is a practice that his mother or some other person, takes his head with both hands near the ears and lifts it off the ground, in such a way the vertebra will be returned to its place.

Podizanje tjemena (angina tonsillaris): when a small child falls off the bed or from somewhere else, he can usually "padne tjeme", it is sometimes called the "third tonsil", this causes a lot of vomiting and loss of weight. The woman that deals with such problems, dips her middle finger in oil, places it into the child's mouth and pushes it upward towards the roof of the mouth. When she completes this process she then massages the child behind the ears, then takes it by the legs and turns it upside down and shake's it a little. This completes the healing process.

4. Vađenje truna: Hava Čebić from Banovići is one of the last practitioners of this ancient method of curing the inflammation of the eye epithelia. When a small piece of wood, stone, metal dust, hay or something else falls into a person's eye then epithelia gets irritated, the eye reddens and hurts. Before the treatment, which lasts less than half a minute, Hava rinses her mouth with alcohol and then holding the eye lids of the patient she searches for the foreign object in the eye with her tongue, as soon as she finds it she removes it with her tongue.

Hava Čebić

5. Warts are treated among the Bosniak people in various ways and the most common one is to rub the warts each morning with one's own saliva. If one persists in such a treatment he warts will soon disappear.

Sep 17, 2012

Bosnian cuisine

Manydishes that did not originate in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose oriental originis undisputed, have over time acquired characteristics that differentiate themfrom the same dishes prepared in the East (Iran, Turkey). The cuisine, or, to bemore precise, the traditional culinary art of Bosnia and Herzegovina is based onthe culinary skill of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which combines theirown cultural elements with foreign recipes, thereby endowing them with aspecific stamp characteristic of Bosnia.
Because the culinary art of the medieval Bosnian kingdom was confined to the noblemen's castles, we can say that the year 1462 marks the birth of traditional cuisine in Bosnia. That was the year when the first aščinica, a restaurant for the townspeople, was opened. We do not have precise evidence about the contents of the menu at the time. However, we do know that 400 years later the variety of meals available throughout the year in an aščinica in any larger town in Bosnia and Herzegovina spanned over 200 different dishes. The common characteristics of these dishes are:
 Bosnian cuisine contains an abundance of vegetables, meat, fruit, milk and dairy products;
the dishes are not made with a browned-flour base (roux), and strong or hot spices are not used. When spices are used, only very small amounts are added to the food so that the taste of meat is not diminished;
 cooked dishes are light because they are prepared in small amounts of water and cooked in their own natural juices, without a roux. The resulting sauce thus has a minimal amount of oriental spices. As a rule, quality dishes are not prepared in fat but are boiled in the juices of cooked meat, which is rich in proteins, and the juices of vegetables;
roasts and many pies, both sweet and savory, are popular;
 broths and soups are practically compulsory;
a wide range of sweets are available.

The function of the traditional large hearth (measuring 2-4 metres in length), 1.20 metres in width and 1.5 metres in height) in the ašinica, as well as in the bakeries where most dishes were prepared, was twofold. New dishes could be quickly prepared on the hearth and other dishes could finish cooking, so that that area also served as a kind of visible menu. The dishes were laid out on plates on the hearth, for which only wood or charcoal was used, so that they kept continually warm and the customer could choose which dish he wanted and in what quantity.
The hearth in an aščinca consists of three parts. The first is a burner with very hot fires. There are three troughs 20 cm to 30 cm wide and 20 cm to 40 cm deep into which embers are poured or charcoal is burned. Some dishes are quickly prepared here, while others finish cooking and are sauces which are mixed in of flavouring. The skill of a chef is measured by the quality of these sauces and the way he used them in different dishes.
The second is a compartment for plates. The hearth also serves as a warming table because all of the plates are warmed there at a steady temperature. Here the dishes are also arranged into individual serving.
The third is a cauldron. It is used for cooking soups and broths and for keeping them warm. 
The kitchen of the aščinca was situated behind the room where food was served. It consisted of an area where the dishes were prepared and the kitchen hearth where the fires were prepared and the kitchen hearth there the fires were kept burning and the final touches were added to the dishes. Above the hearth were pothooks from which cauldrons hung, while on the hearth itself was a small clay oven for preparing roasts and pies. One corner was designated for the making and drying of pastry dough, next no it was an area for brewing coffee. Since most town in Bosnia and Herzegovina had running water, the kitchen also had a separate area for the washing and drying of dishes. Apart from these rooms the aščinica also had a to a room containing the butcher's tools. There was usually a cold storage room located in the cellar where food was kept and preserved. The bakery, which was separate from the aščinca, was used for the baking of different types of pastries, as well as cakes and pies and dishes prepared in pots. Once the bread and pastries were baked the fire in the bakery hearth was kept burning so that other dishes could be cooked on this low heat.
Larger aščinca as well as karavansarajs (hotels) had large trays with small samples of the dishes and many spoon so that the guest could try each dish. A different spoon was used the sampling of each dish, and a bowl of water was provided for the immediate disposal of used spoons.
Surviving historical date tells us that during celebrations, weddings, gatherings and picnic all ethnic groups used the same rich and varied menu consisting of twelve to thirty different dishes.

Sep 16, 2012

Bosnian pastries and delicacies

All Bosnia seem to love rahatluk. Ad who can blame them? The name is a corrupted form on the Arabic rahat-lokoum, which means „a little sweet that causes pleasure“. And that is just what it is. This delicious hard gelee is made of sugar, starch, water, almonds and rose oil. The dried, sliced almonds are put into a mixture of syrup and starch; lemon juice and a few drops of rose oil are added, and the mixture is left to cool in an enameled dish.

1.5 kg. (3 lb. 4 oz.) sugar
1 ¾ l. (3 pt.) water
250 gr. (8 ½ oz.) cornflour
125 gr. (5 oz.) almonds
1 lemon
6-8 drops of rose water
50 gr. (2 oz.) almond oil

Although it may be bough ready-made many Bosniak housewives prefer to make their own, in the following way: Place the sugar in a large saucepan, pour on 1 ¼  pints ( ¾  litre) of water and make a thick syrup. When the syrup thickens, remove pan from the heat. In another saucepan place the cornflour and slowly add the rest of the water (1 litre or 1 ¾  pints). Add this mixture to the syrup slowly, stirring all the time. Return to the heat until the mixture starts to fall off the spoon, stirring all the time and being careful not to let the mixture burn. Towards the end add the juice of one lemon.
When the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan, remove from the heat, add the rose water and the almonds, blanched and cut into thin strips. Grease a large enamel dish with almond or ordinary oil and pour in the hot mixture to form a layer 3 cm (just over one inch) thick. Level with a knife and leave for 24 hours to set. Cut into squares 2 by 4 cm (nearly 1 by 2 inches). Dip each piece in sieved icing sugar mixed with rice or cornflour, and place in layers in a tin.
Rahatluk can be made in smaller quantities, but since it keeps for a long time without losing its taste or freshness, it is more convenient ito make a larger quantity and store in tins.

Đul Fatma, Đul pita or Ružice
(Jul Fatma Pie or Roses)
1 lb. flour
1 cup water
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup milk
4 ozs. rice flour or 2 ozs. cornflour
3 cups sugar
8 ozs. nuts
1 cup oil or butter
Vanilla flavouring
1 lemon
The wordul" means "rose" in Arabic. When these pastries are baked they resamble an open rose — hence their poetic name. With the ingredients in the first column make paper-thin sheets of pastry as for walnut "pita" or baklava.
Add milk to rice flour or cornflour gradually and cook until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Add 'It cup of sugar.
Take four sheets of pastry and sprinkle them in turn with hot oil or butter. Place them one on top of the other and spread the filling along one side of the pastry. Roll up as tightly as possible. Butter a large baking tin. With a sharp knife cut the roll into one-inch slices and place then flat on the baking tin. Bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.
Put 2 ½  cups of sugar into 2 ½  cups of water, add vanilla and one lemon cut into slices. Bring to the boil and simmer until slightly thickened. Pour this syrup over the hot "pita". After all the syrup has soaked in, carefully remove all the pieces of "pita" and arrange on a serving dish.

Sep 15, 2012

Bosnian magical formula against Evil Eye

Stravarka repeat three times Surah Ikhlas and then the following  formula:

In my Aliye there are nine spells;
not nine of them,
there are only eight;
not eight of them,
there are only seven;
not seven of them,
there are only six;                                                                  
not six of them,
there are only five;
not five of them,
there are only four,
not four of them,
there are only three,
not three of them,
there are only two,
not two of them,
there's only one;
there's not even.
Veledalin amin!