Greek food is one of the best and many popular cuisines in the world. From Mediterranean trends to the fact that it's often healthier than many more, there's a steadfast following behind its flavors. When visiting Greece, many people expect the usual, traditional Greek dishes for example spanakopita and baklava. While this isn't entirely incorrect, it's definitely not all that Greece has to offer.
Much further north in the country's hottest summer destinations around Macedonia. This mountainous portion of Greece is home to much more traditional foods with flavors which are very different from what one will dsicover around the coast. Those who have had the pleasure of trying it, however, might even argue that it's even better than many seaside dishes…
So how exactly does Macedonian Food Differ From The remainder of Greece?
Macedonia's unique cuisine continues to be influenced not just by the region in which it was made but also through the various peoples who have lived there. These groups were accountable for bringing flavors from all over Eurasia where they blended into the melting pot of flavors that we understand today as Macedonian food. Some of those influences were Turkish, Bulgarian, Sarakatsani, Vlach, Thracian, and Pontian. Which means that anyone dish might be inspired by Asia Minor or perhaps a destination so far as Russia. The latter is where many main components, for example eggplant, red peppers, and leeks originated from. Eastern influences were accountable for the variety of spices which are used throughout many Macedonia dishes, as well as pickled foods and kebabs.
In relation to various regions, Macedonia is a big enough place that each major city (and even small town) is renowned for its variations on certain dishes. Some might echo the frugality of early life on the bottom, while some are rich in flavor, reminiscent of wealth and also the option of higher-end ingredients. Overall, Macedonian cuisine is rich in both body and flavor, as its mountainous region dictates hearty, filling meals.
Macedonia's Most Well-Known Dishes
Whether one is staying in a quaint inn or perhaps a high-end hotel in Macedonia, they're certain to run into its cuisine sooner or later or any other. While traditional 'Greek' food might be on the menu, you'll also have dishes which are unique to the region. For all those visiting one of Macedonia's many mountain towns, these dishes should be on the radar.
Maznik & Sweet Bougatsa
Starting served by something sweet, these two pastries are both must-tries when visiting North Macedonia. Sweet Bougatsa are available throughout Macedonia in general and it is essentially a sweet custard pie. Interestingly, it's also one of few Macedonia desserts available through the country, too. It's that popular!
Maznik are available in the northern region and it is seen as a its classic coiled shape. The sunshine phyllo dough pastry is filled with either a sweet or savory filling. Savory fillings include mild white cheese, cheese curds, eggs, spinach, leeks, or minced meat, while sweet fillings include pumpkin or grated apples. To get that crispy top layer that phyllo is really well-known for, it's brushed with oil prior to being baked off.
Pindur, Lyutenitsa, & Ajvar
These three look fairly similar but are different both in flavors, ingredients, and origins. They're all condiments however the similarities end there. Pindur has strong Balkin influences and resonates with flavors which are contained in Albanian, Serbian, Bulgarian, and Bosnian foods. This dish has a base of roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant, to which garlic, salt, and pepper are added. It's commonly used as a spread or a dip, based on which meal it's eaten during.
Lyutenitsa can be used similarly like a spread or dip but can also be reminiscent of a chutney. It has a base of tomatoes, red peppers, chili peppers, and onion, and is seasoned with salt, sugar, and oil. The result is a well-balanced addition to any meal, and it is found more commonly throughout Macedonia than pindur.
Ajvar is easily the most common condiment in Macedonia, though, and can be also found throughout the Balkins and Eastern Europe. In Macedonia, specifically, this condiment is made from roasted red peppers, ajvarka peppers, eggplant, hot peppers, vinegar, and salt.
Pites (Savory Pies)
Macedonia is including known for savory pies, which can be found throughout the entire region. One of the most popular pies is known as zelnik, which is traditional in North Macedonia. It's filled with simple but fresh ingredients such as spinach, cheese, meat, eggs, leeks, and often cabbage. The whole pie is brushed with butter to complete, resulting in a brown and crispy top crust.
Pispilita Pie is an open-faced pie (meaning there's no top crust) from North Thessaly. The crust is uniquely various and is made with cornmeal rather than phyllo, resulting in a completely different flavor and texture than most Macedonia pies. As for what it contains, this could change based on the season – each ingredient is seasonally based, truly always consists of the freshest greens.