If you’re ever in Albania and get hungry, you might wonder what food is popular in Albania? You are happy to know that there is a lot of delicious traditional foods in Albania to choose from.
Albanians take great pride in their food and culture, so expect a delicious and hearty meal. From savory dishes like Tavë Kosi to sweet treats like baklava, there is something for everyone.
Here are some traditional Albanian foods that you need to try. It also includes some of the more popular cuisines found in Albania, if you want to explore beyond the traditional dishes.
What’s Special About Foods In Albania?
Albanian food is very unique in the sense that it has a lot of variety. There are a lot of different dishes that Albanians enjoy, and each one has its unique flavor.
One of the best things about Albanian cooking is the fact that dishes are cooked in a very specific way. The ingredients are fresh, and they come from local sources. This means that you can be sure that you’re getting the best of the best when you try the foods in Albania.
Albanian food has influences from a variety of different cultures such as mediterranean cuisine. This is because Albania is a very diverse country, with many different ethnic groups and religions.
You can find Albanian food that is similar to Turkish, Greek, and even Italian food. However, the dishes are always tweaked to fit the tastes of Albanians.
Most Popular Traditional Albanian food
This is a hard pick and to be honest, I am hesitant to say this is the most popular out of all Albanian food due to the frequency of consumption. However, this is considered a national specialty of Albania, if not its national dish and it tastes amazing.
Tavë Kosi is a traditional Albanian dish that is made of lamb or goat in yogurt sauce. It is cooked in a clay pot and served with rice. Lamb meat is certainly a delicacy in Albania.
The origin of Tavë Kosi is said to come from the town of Elbasan and traces back to the 15th century. Nonetheless, this dish is popular in various regions of Albania. It is usually eaten on special occasions, and definitely a dish to try when visiting Albania.
That said, Tavë Kosi is probably not as commonly eaten on a day-to-day basis compared to other popular traditional Albanian food to come.
Traditional Foods In Albania
Byrek, also spelled burek in Albanian food restaurants around the world. It is such a popular food that is eaten by your regular Albanian.
Byrek is a savory pie traditionally made with a filing of meat and feta cheese. Byrek can be procced into many different shapes: circular, rectangular, or for more elaborate occasions by using letter cutters to create patterns on crusts before pastry is served.
Some originates believe that Burek got its name from the Turkish word “börek” which means pastry. This name derives from the Latin word “placenta” which means cake because of its resemblance to dimpled cake dough pieces.
It’s believed oriental influences on this dish are very clear because they have similar dishes like hamsi böreği (oven baked fish fillets in dough) and kadayıf (shredded wheat pastry) which is a very popular dessert.
In Albania, Byrek is made with filo dough and can be an appetizer or main course. This is one traditional Albanian food that you can catch locals eating daily, and it is usually accompanied by yogurt or ajvar.
Pollo alla Cotoletta
Another popular dish is called Pollo alla Cotoletta. This dish is made of chicken that is breaded and fried. It is a very popular dish eaten in Albania, and often comes with a side of fries.
Pollo alla Cotoletta is a dish that was created in the 20th century. It is a dish that was inspired by the Italian dish, chicken parmigiana. However, it has a distinct and delicious flavor adapted to fit the tastes of Albanians.
Frog legs are a traditional dish in Albania cusine. They are usually cooked in a sauce of garlic, butter, and white wine.
Frog legs are considered a delicacy in Albania, and they are usually eaten on special occasions. They go very well with rice due to the stewy sauce.
The origin of frog legs in Albania is unknown, but they have been eaten there for centuries. While this dish might sound weird to some, frog legs are popular in other countries as well, including France, China, and the United States.
Qofte te ferguara
Qofte te ferguara is one of the most popular Albanian foods that is made from minced meat. This essentially is your typical dish of Albanian meatball or patty.
The meat can be pork, beef, lamb, or chicken. It is usually mixed with spices such as salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and onion. The mixture is then shaped into mini patties or ball shape and pan-fried.
Qofte te ferguara can be served with a side of potatoes or rice. It is a very popular local dish in Albanian cuisine.
Fërgesë is one of the more traditional Albanian dishes suitable for vegetarians. It is made of baked cheese and red pepper. The dish is usually made with either cottage or feta cheese. It can also include eggs, tomato, onion, and garlic.
The cheese and pepper are mixed together and then baked in the oven. Fërgesë is a traditional dish in Albania and can be found in most restaurants. This will go well with some warm and fluffy bread.
Flija is a traditional Albanian dish that is made with filo dough, water, salt, eggs and butter. It is a common food in both Albania and Kosovo, but there are variations in recipes.
The dough is layered into stuffing (if preferred) like butter, cheese, and eggs in between to give it added flavor. It is baked until the pastry is golden brown.
Shapkat is a casserole dish that is made with cornmeal, and various greens, most particularly spinach. It is a traditional Albanian food that can easily be a snack or main course.
This corn pie is commonly served in Albanian cuisine and can be found in restaurants that serve traditional food. It is usually baked in a skillet or oven-proof dish.
Tave Mishi (Grilled Meat)
Grilled meat is very much a part of Albanian culture and definitely, Albanian cuisine. Tave Mishi is a mixed meat platter in Albania.
It is essentially a typical dish of succulent, grilled meat consisting of pork, beef, and lamb. Much of Albanian cuisine is about sharing, and this is one Albanian food that is great for groups.
I like to complement it with fresh lemon, sour cream, or some pickled vegetables to relieve the heavy-hitting grilled meat. Certainly one of my favorite Albanian dishes.
From the grilled meat and baked lamb of the land to the fresh seafood by the coastal towns, Albanian food covers everything.
Grilled fish is a traditional dish along the coast of Albanian Riviera. Freshly caught fishes marinated in herbs and cooked through open flame until it is grilled. The availability of natural ingredients makes this a popular dish eaten by the coast.
This is also with Mediterranean and Albanian cuisine shares some similarities.
Kaçkavall (Fried Cheese)
Kaçkavall fried cheese is another traditional Albanian food. It is basically a type of cheese that is breaded and then deep-fried.
This dish can be found at most restaurants and is usually served as an appetizer. Kaçkavall Fried cheese is a great option for those who are looking for delicious savory finger food.
Perime në Zgarë (Grilled Vegetables)
Perime në Zgarë is a typical Albanian dish that is made of grilled vegetables. The dish is most commonly made with eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and onion.
It can also be made with zucchini, squash, and cauliflower. The vegetables are grilled over an open flame until they are charred and then served with a vinaigrette or sauce.
You can find these in local traditional restaurants, and they always taste different depending on the chef’s skills.
Speça me gjize (Stuffed Bell Peppers)
Speça me gjize is the Albanian version of stuffed peppers. These are colorful bell peppers stuffed with rice, cheese, herbs, and spices. The stuffed peppers are then oven-baked for a yummy vegetarian dish.
You can obviously make a non-vegetarian version by adding meat into the stuffings. However, you will be surprised how peppers stuffed with rice can make a really filling meal
Soups In Albanian Foods
Jani me Fasule (Bean Soup)
Jani me Fasule is a bean soup that is made with beans, onion, garlic, and tomato sauce. Fasule means “beans” in Albanian and this soup is simple yet one of the more traditional Albanian dishes in the country.
It is commonly eaten in the past due to poverty, but continues to remain one of the most popular Albanian foods today. It is usually cooked in a large pot and served with homemade baked bread or pita bread.
Tarator soup (Cold Cucumber Soup)
Tarator soup is a cold soup that is popular in Albania. It is made with cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, and water. The soup is served cold and is a great summer dish.
This might sound weird if it is the first time you hear of it. However, Tarator soup is actually a common dish in many Eastern European cuisines. For example, it is a popular soup in Poland.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Dessert and Sweet Foods In Albania
While most of the desserts have middle eastern influences, sweets are a big part of Albanian culture. There are also traditional Albanian desserts that can give the sweet tooths a run for their money.
Ballokume is a traditional pastry that is popular in the city of Elbasani, in central Albania. The biscuit is commonly baked for the traditional festival of “Dita e Verës”.
It is made with a simple dough of flour, water, and yeast that is allowed to rise for a few hours. The dough is then divided into small pieces, which are shaped into balls and then flattened.
The Ballokume are then placed on a baking sheet and allowed to rise for a second time. They are then baked in a hot oven until golden brown. It goes well with tea or coffee for a light albanian dessert.
Qumështor (Baked Custard)
Qumështors are traditional Albanian desserts that hail from the goodness of home.
Qusmitar means “custard” in Greek, and it’s made with milk, flour, eggs, butter, and sugar mixed together to create a thick consistency before being cooked over low heat until golden brown on top – then cut into individual portions!
You can also customize it to your preference with different flavors like vanilla extract or lemon.
Baklava is a sweet dessert pastry consisting of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened. It obviously has Turkish influence but holds a special place on Albanian tables as well.
It’s a traditional food that’s especially popular nowadays but has been enjoyed in Albania for centuries regardless.
Baklava varies in size depending on the region – its shape usually being rectangular but sometimes circular or octagonal.
Shëndetli is a dessert that is popular in Albania. It is made of walnuts, honey, and cinnamon. First, the walnuts are ground into a paste. Then, the honey and cinnamon are added and mixed in.
The mixture is then put into a pastry bag and squeezed out into a desired shape. The dessert is then baked until it is golden brown. Shëndetli is typically served with coffee or tea.
Trilece is a dessert that is common in Albania. It is made with flour, milk, sugar and butter. The ingredients are mixed together to form a dough and then it is cooked on a stove. Trilece is often served with jam or honey.
Petulla (Fried dough)
Petulla is one of the typical Albanian dishes imaginable. It is essentially fried dough made with flour and water. It is a type of pastry that is often eaten as a snack or a dessert.
Petulla is sprinkled with powdered sugar and it can be eaten with jam, Nutella, honey, cheese, or other spreads. It is commonly served hot, so be careful when eating. Petulla can be either baked or fried.
You can sometimes find these on the streets or in an Albanian pastry shop.
Drinks In Albania
Rakija is a type of brandy that is popular in Albania. It is made from grapes and has a high alcohol content. Rakija is often served as a shot or used to flavor coffee. It is also sometimes used as a medicine.
Rakija originated in the Balkan countries and is now popular throughout Eastern Europe. It is often made at home using grapes or other fruits.
Albanian beers are some of the most popular drinks in the country. They come in a variety of brands and flavors, making them a favorite for locals and tourists alike.
Some of the most common beers from Albania and nearby Kosovo include Korça, Tirana, Elbar, and Peja.
While there are many more brands available throughout the country, these are some of the most popular. Beers in Albania are generally quite light and a good pairing to go with the numerous meat dishes in Albanian cuisine.
Trying Albanian Foods
Albanian cuisine has so many exciting flavors embedded inside the delicious food. They have customized the influences from the region to create their own traditional dishes.
From yummy lamb meat to stuffed bell peppers, there are a lot of different dishes on offer to the hungry traveler in Albanian food. These are just some of the more popular foods in Albania.
If you’re looking to enjoy the Albanian gastronomy scene, be sure to try the traditional Albanian cuisine that locals enjoy.