Ćevapi: The Classic Balkan Dish You Should Know About

Beyond burek, there are countless Balkan dishes that demand to be tried. Stretching across the Balkan Mountains in southeastern Europe, countries like Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia are just some of the many that make up the peninsula. While each country boasts a unique culinary identity, the cuisine tends to consist heavily of stuffed vegetables, cheeses, and stews, notes Balkan Prime Tours. However, the most defining characteristic of the gastronomy is the focus on grilled meats like ćevapi.

Also known as ćevapčići, Curious Cuisinière explains that these grilled sausages date back to the Ottoman Empire when the Balkan region was under Turkish rule. So naturally, the meat dish owes a bit of its origin story to Turkish culture as ćevapi are often compared to the Turkish kofta kebab, given their similar appearance and flavor. Although recipes and sizing can vary based on country, you should know a few things about any sort of ćevapi.

A meaty, skinless sausage

A sausage without casing, TasteAtlas explains that ćevapi are made from a blend of meats (preferably twice-ground) like beef, pork, veal, or lamb and are flavored with salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, and parsley. The mince is then hand-rolled into thick, short sausages that are then grilled over hot coals for several minutes.

Rich, flavourful, smokey, and the slightest bit garlicky, a juicy ćevapi is truly transcendent. But there's one tip for ćevapi novices to live by. According to Serious Eats, you should always add baking soda to your meat mix. Not only will it give the sausages a bit of bounce, but it'll also help them stay tender, providing that restaurant-quality texture.

Epicurious recommends serving the glistening meat morsels as soon as they're finished grilling and pairing them alongside lepinja (flatbread), ajvar (sweet red pepper spread), kaymak (clotted sour cream), and some freshly sliced onions. The balance of sweet, sour, and savory creates an explosion of flavor for your tastebuds. Plus, there's also a bit of texture and crunch, which is always welcomed!