Food & Cuisine in Bosnia-Herzegovina

The first thing that strikes you while eating in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the richness of flavours.  Bosnian cuisine uses a lot of spices but in measured quantities. You'll find the unmistakable aroma permeating the air quite irresistible! Very often food is just laced with spices in order to retain the original taste of the vegetables or meat. Sauces, mostly extracted from vegetable juices, are infused to add character and body to the food.

Most dishes are light on the stomach as they are cooked in water. So there is little chance you will end up with a bad stomach eating here.

Our Bosnia-Herzegovina Restaurant Guide below will tell you all you need to know about food and cuisine in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After an exciting shopping spree in the local marketplace, relax in an authentic Bosnia-Herzegovina restaurant and taste a variety of delicious national dishes. 

Get familiar with the local dining scene in our Bosnia-Herzegovina destinations:

Sarajevo

- Medjugorje

- Banja Luka
 

Delve into the kitchens and backyards and you will discover Bosnian gastronomy has not yet been adulterated with commercially grown produce. All vegetables and fruits are organically or semi-organically grown using minimal chemicals. They are hand picked only when ripe with no external interference.

Bosnian cuisine is a mixed bag of western and eastern influences. The easily available food items in Sarajevo are grilled minced meat or cevapi, Balkan kebab, burek or a greasy pastry made of filo dough and stuffed with meat and of course several variations of pita.

The local cuisine in Bosnia-Herzegovina is heavy on meat and potatoes and vegetables are used sparingly. In fact the traditional vegan dish or grah is cooked with bacon or smoked meat.  The local signature dish is pastrmka which is trout cooked in an assortment of spices.

But what is seen practically all over town is janjetina or ‘lamb on the spit'. This is a mouth watering dish of lamb cooked on a spit or a large wooden steak. A whole lamb is rotated over the coal fire for hours to get its earthy flavour. Janjetinais sold by the kilo and Bosnians usually cook it at home during festivals and special occasions.

When eating out in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the main course you can choose between is generally rice and pasta. Bread accompanies all dishes by default. For the health conscious there is a decent spread of soups and salads. Salads are typically tomatoes, lettuce, onions, bell peppers and feta cheese tossed together. The vinaigrette is Italian with generous helping of balsamic vinegar and olive or corn oil.

Daily diet for Bosnians is stew type meals like kupus and grah. Kupus is a boiled cabbage dish and grahis a boiled beans preparation, which is more or less a watery version of the Hungarian goulash. All these dishes are made with garlic, onions, celery and generous amounts of smoked meat and vegetable, usually carrots. Several cups of water are added to give it volume.

Vegeta, a local spice is incorporated into almost all dishes. This spice is used through the regions as far as Poland. Since spices play a key role in Bosnian culinary fare, you will find a colourful spread of spices and condiments in the local Bosnia-Herzegovina market. Pickled foodstuff like peppers, onions, cucumbers and tomatoes also double up as condiments.

Ajvar, made from red bell peppers, eggplant, garlic and chilli pepper is available in canned versions in most shops in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is consumed like a bread spread and is used in sandwiches and salads. Another popular bread spread is Kajmak, made of milk fat that is salted and canned. The consistency is like cream cheese and the taste is smoky, salty and cheesy.  

For the thirsty traveller, Bosnia has its authentic brew to offer besides the popular beers like Sarajevsko, Tuzlanski, Karlovacka and Preminger. Rakija, considered the national drink of the southern Slavs, is made commercially as well as in Bosnian homes. It is made by distilling fermented fruits and tastes like brandy. The common flavours of Rakija are peaches, apples, apricots, figs and plums. Red wine or crno vino and black and white wine or bjelo vino are also easily available. For the sober traveller there is Turkish coffee. It is available in every bar, coffee shop and fast food restaurant in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Some Local Food Trivia

Vegeta is the North American equivalent of a chicken Oxo cube or condensed chicken broth mix. Stew meals are perfect for the budget traveller as it is filling and cheap. The best place to have pastrmka is by the beautiful Blagaj monastery. It is a short bus ride from Mostar. Alcohol is not taxed as heavily as in the Western nations and is often very affordable.