A visit to the Macedonian region can be extremely fulfilling. There is so much rich history and wonderful ancient culture to be discovered here. North Macedonia is a beautiful country rich in agriculture and new technology, but the most unique and special thing here is North Macedonian food. Pull up a plate and discover all the riches of traditional Macedonian food.
What Is Special About Macedonian Food
The region surrounding North Macedonia has a complex history with North Macedonia only gaining its independence in 1991. The country’s youth does not represent a lack of culinary tradition. The food in Macedonia is born from cultural fusion and cooking traditions that date back centuries.
The warm climate of North Macedonia makes for a fruitful growing season and plenty of culinary splendor to enjoy. The style of cuisine seen throughout North Macedonia is reflective of their historical involvement with other countries and the cuisines of their neighbors, like Greece and Bulgaria.
Most Famous Macedonian Food
Tavče Gravče (Baked Beans)
This splendid stew is North Macedonia’s national dish. It is a rich and hearty dish chock-full of local vegetables and herbs. It is a local tradition to cook this succulent stew on Fridays.
It does require some special equipment, though, because this dish is traditionally finished in a clay pot. This generous stew is the perfect introduction to North Macedonian food.
Tavče Gravče is made primarily of white beans and the favored choice for this star ingredient is the locally grown Tetovo bean. This large variety of white beans is mixed with garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes, spices, and fresh herbs to craft a bountiful stew.
This colorful Macedonian food is energizing enough to fuel your local adventure. Pair it with bread and local wine for a true Macedonian meal.
Traditional Macedonian Foods
Musaka (Potato and Meat Dish)
Musaka is a classic North Macedonian food. Every local has their favorite version of it and the variations are vast; but at its heart, this Macedonian dish is a meat and potato casserole.
Musaka typically consists of layers of thinly sliced potatoes cut with layers of ground meat and onions. The dish is usually spiced with seasonings like paprika and black pepper. The whole casserole is baked into a warm and inviting example of Macedonian food.
Pastrmajlija (Macedonian Pizza)
All across North Macedonia, you will find these delicious ovals they call pastrmajlija. This is a truly exquisite Macedonian food that does not hold back on the flavors.
Pastrmajlija is made from a tasty yeasted dough that’s stretched into an oval, topped with delicious meats and eggs, then baked into a wonderful savory pie. The meat of choice is usually lamb or sheep but there are many variations of this dish.
Although some think of this as Macedonian pizza, it does not have any cheese. Simply rich eggs and unctuous meats make this savory Macedonian food unforgettable.
Ajvar (Pepper Dip)
Ajvarka is a beloved Macedonia red pepper and it is the primary ingredient in ajvar. This vibrantly red pepper has great notes of sweetness and peppery heat that make ajvar the perfect dip.
Ajvar is a traditional Macedonian food eaten as a spread or dip. It is made from roasted red peppers and spices so it pairs beautifully with grilled meats or pitas. You will find many variations of this in the Balkans region.
Enjoy this dip with cheese, olives, and bread as a rich snack before your evening exploring Skopje.
Polneti Piperki (Stuffed Peppers)
This Macedonian food is a cousin to the sarma. It uses a similar filling to that of sarma in Bulgarian and Romanian cuisine, except this uses a beautifully bright Macedonian red pepper.
This visually delightful dish uses roasted local peppers for their vibrant color and excellent taste and stuffs them with a blend of rice and ground meat. The filling is seasoned with pepper and tomato sauce and the whole dish is baked to tasty perfection.
This Macedonian dish shows the local mastery of simple yet flavorful cuisine.
Shirden (Stuffed Lamb’s Stomach)
Some of the richest pieces of gastronomy are born out of the desire not to waste, and shirden is one such example. Shirden is a traditional Macedonian food made by stuffing the lining of a sheep’s stomach.
The filling typically consists of ground meat, olives, and spices. This may sound outlandish to some, but shirden is a delicacy known for its rich and satisfying flavor.
Kebapi (Macedonian Kebab)
This delicious Macedonian food is the local answer to kebabs. Kebapi is a traditional grilled dish and it is loved across all of North Macedonia. Kebapi is a kofta-style kebab where ground lamb (or other meat) is mixed with spices and then formed into an oblong meatball.
The meatball is grilled until it is full of fiery flavor. These delicious sausage-like grilled meats are great with pitas or rice and vegetables. They are a common staple in Balkan cuisines like Serbian or Bosnian food.
Shopska Salad (Chopped Salad)
This delightful cold salad is the perfect celebration of all the great produce that grows in North Macedonia. It is a fresh vegetable salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, and feta.
The cool vegetables work together to make an interesting salad that works as an appetizer or meal on its own. It’s common to see this Macedonian food served at parties and gatherings. If Cevapi is the regular meat dish across the Balkans, the Shopska salad is probably the vegetable dish version. For example, it is very popular as a side in Croatian food.
Podvarok (Sauerkraut Casserole)
This classic North Macedonian food brings back nostalgic memories for many locals. This wholesome casserole marries the flavor of sauerkraut with pork and it is a match made in heaven.
The tasty pork and fermented sauerkraut bake together to create a fatty and tangy flavor that will make you want seconds! This dish is interesting and inviting, just like all of the Macedonian cuisine!
Macedonian Foods: Stews
Turlitava (Macedonian Stew)
This welcoming Macedonian stew is a testament to all the great ingredients found in North Macedonia. Turlitava is a lush stew made with delicious local produce, like okra, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, and green beans. Meat like veal and/or lamb is added to the already hearty stew along with generous herbs and spices.
This traditional Macedonia food is a play on a Turkish-style stew born out of the Turkish influence in the area. Try this delicious stew on a cool Macedonian night with a glass of local wine.
Selsko Meso (Pork Stew)
Selsko meso is a warm and inviting traditional Macedonian food. It uses the classic method of cooking in a clay pot to produce an unctuous and comforting pork stew that will stick in your head (and on your hips).
This heart stew uses the irresistible flavors of mushroom and pork to create a base. It’s seasoned with tomato paste, local wine, and spices. This familiar favorite has been bringing comfort to Macedonian tables for centuries and with one bite you will see why.
Gjuvech (Chicken and Vegetables)
Macedonian cuisine utilizes the technique of stewing in the most successful ways. One delectable example of slow-cooked Macedonian dishes is gjuvech. This comforting dish is made from chicken and vegetables that are cooked together in the broth.
Often this dish is cooked in a clay pot. This hearty bowl features local flavors like red pepper and paprika and it is just the thing to fill up on after a day of exploration.
Sarma (Stuffed Cabbage)
Many Baltics countries have some iteration of the stuffed cabbage and sarma is Macedonia’s (and Balkans’) delicious take on this comforting dish. Sarma is a Macedonian food made from local cabbage leaves that are rolled around a lush filling of rice, meat, and vegetables.
This filling North Macedonian food typically includes a tomatoey sauce that coats your tongue in pure joy. Enjoy sarma as an appetizer or main dish, no matter what you will want more of this excellent Macedonian food.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Macedonian Foods: Pastries And Baked Foods
Zelnik (Phyllo Pie)
Layers of flakey pastry and rich filling make this Macedonian food unbeatable. Zelnik is a deletable savory pie made with layers of airy phyllo dough and luscious fillings.
The filling for this delicious Macedonian food varies but usually includes feta, spinach, onions, and herbs; sometimes ground meat is included. It makes a wonderful breakfast with hot coffee or tea.
Mekici (Fried Bread)
This decadent Macedonadian food must be sampled during your culinary adventure! It has everything one could want from a treat, it’s fried, crispy, yeasty, yogurty, and so delicious! Medici is a type of fried dough made from yeasted yogurt dough.
Mekici usually takes a flat, rounded shape that makes it easy to top with sweet jam or honey. This fried indulgence is the perfect Macedonian food for cutting loose. Try these treats with a hot coffee in the morning or as dessert in Macedonia.
Burek (Baked Filled Pastry)
This Turkish import has taken on a new life as part of Macedonian cuisine. Burek is a delicious filled phyllo dish that is beloved by locals in North Macedonia. This phyllo pie is made of filled pastry coils that are spiraled into a tasty swirl.
The filling varies but typically consists of ground meat, cheeses, spinach, and herbs. It’s a rich and buttery baked Macedonian food that is sure to satisfy your stomach!
Yogurtlitava (Baked Yogurt)
This delicious custard-like dish is a North Macedonian favorite! Yogurtlitava is a baked yogurt dish. It is made very simply with yogurt, eggs, and rice, but when it bakes the tangy flavor of the yogurt infuses with the rice to create a sensational bite.
Some locals like to eat this Macedonia food by itself, while others enjoy it as a side to rich lamb or other meat. Yogurtlitava is frequently served at celebrations which makes sense because its taste is pure joy!
Discovering Traditional Macedonian Food
Exploring Macedonian food is such a delectable endeavor. With so much bountiful produce at their disposal, every meal feels fresh and celebratory. The flavors and techniques used in Macedonian cuisine have been perfected for centuries and are nothing short of delicious. North Macedonia is a foodie’s paradise all that is left is to dig in!