Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What and where to eat in Belgrade if you are vegetarian?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Being a half-Serbian who has lived almost all her life in Belgrade, means that I eat all kind of meat, like all Serbs do, so it never occurred to me that foreign visitors might have problems finding food here if they don't eat meat, or have other special diets. But, during last year, I've started to read travelers' reviews and blog posts from people who have visited Belgrade, and suddenly I've started to notice that some of them had a really huge food-problem here. I have discussed a little bit on this topic in my post about one Belgrade restaurant, but now I see it's about the highest time to give some more explanation - no one must not starve in Belgrade!!!

Having hungry visitors would be a great shame for us, for Serbs are known as people who are highly sensitive to food and guests, which means that Serbian hospitality has two important characteristics: a) there always has to be a lot of food (especially if you have a guest), and b) guests are considered as sacred, so they have to be pleased by food, drink and comfort. Failing to fulfill a single item of the above mentioned, draws to a great shame, even if no one else, except the host, knows about it.

Since this post is about to be about lot of food, I will have to find photos on-line, because I don't have a habit of taking photos of my food :o))) And one more thing: please, don't be too harsh on me for not knowing about how many types of vegetarians, vegans or pescetarians there are (I've just found out about the latter few days ago)... I'll just try to simplify the explanation and description of food, so you could include or exclude it from your diet.

So, the famous sentence "no meat, no eat" should be banned from our our dictionaries!

GREEN MARKETS

There are lot of green markets in Belgrade, almost every quarter has it. Some are bigger and some are smaller, but the main characteristic is that they offer fresh vegetables and fruits. The important thing is to know that all vegetables and fruits grown in Serbia (except for very few kinds of soy beans) are not genetically modified. I cannot guarantee that for imported ones (which you can usually recognize by a lot higher price) which are mostly imported when it is not the natural season in Serbia for its growth. For example: tomato's natural growing season in Serbia is June-October, outside of that period it is most probably imported. Carrots are available almost during all year long, and so are cabbage and potato. Strawberries are available only in June, cherries end of May-beginning of June, etc. Bananas don't grow in Serbia LOL


But this info is more important for people who are going to spend a longer period here. The problem is that if you are traveler, this info probably won't be much useful for you, if you don't have a refrigerator to use.

Green markets are mostly closed in the afternoon and some of them are closed or working with reduced number of sellers on Mondays. Most of the time prices are not displayed, and can vary, so try to get info on prices before you go shopping, or at least check prices on several stands, before buying.



MACROBIOTIC SHOPS

Macrobiotic shops are often called Bio dućan Био дућан (pronounced as Beeo duchan) can be found around green markets, but also around town. They sell macrobiotic food, and have sandwiches, cookies and other macrobiotic snacks, but also all kind of food for preparing a microbiotic meal. Those shops are usually small, and they can be recognized by lot of shelves with small compartments.

FOOD FOR VEGETARIANS EATING DAIRY PRODUCTS

If you're eating dairy products, it would be a lot easier for you to find ready-made food in Belgrade. First of all, there are numerous bakery stores, some of which working 24/7, offering all kinds of pastries, but let's take them one by one:
BUREK БУРЕК (pronounced as boorek) is being sold in most bakeries, and some are even specialized only for burek (trust me, you don't even want to try to say the name of that store, it's even tongue-twister for us). What we mean when we say burek is the one you can see on the picture on the right. There are several fillings for burek and only one is with meat (and it's called burek "sa mesom" which means "with meat"). My favorite is with cheese ("sa sirom"). It is very greasy, so you should find a place for eating it slowly - usually you can eat it at the shop.

SARAJEVSKI BUREK САРАЈЕВСКИ БУРЕК (burek from Sarajevo, pronounced as Sarayevski boorek) or someone would call it pita пита looks like this. Whatever you call it, it comes with several fillings: cheese, spinach, potato, mushrooms, etc. and again, only one is with meat. It is less greasy than the above mentioned burek, so you could also eat it on the way, but it will prevent you to drink yoghurt at the same time :o)))


PITA ПИТА is also very popular. It comes in different shapes, the most simple is when it's cut to cubes. It also comes with various fillings cheese, spinach, zelje (pronounced as zelye), potato, mushrooms, etc. It is not so greasy, so you can take it with you.




PROJA ПРОЈА pronounced as proya, is a traditional corn bread with white cheese. It can be found both in restaurants and bakery shops. Traditional proja is cut on cubes, but now they also make it shaped like small muffins.



GIBANICA ГИБАНИЦА pronounced as gibanitsa is made with cheese, but it contains eggs. It has rich filling and it is made in two shapes, but taste the same.



FOOD FOR PESCETARIANS

If you're a pescetarian, the keyword for you in Serbia is posno. The word posno means the absence of unsuitable types of food during Orthodox fast. The Christian Orthodox fast is not allowing any products of animal origin, including dairy products and eggs, except for fish. Two biggest fasts are before Christmas (Orthodox Christmas is on 7th January) and before Orthodox Easter, and during that time many restaurants offer appropriate food. So it's easiest for you to eat here. There are also grills around markets specialized for fish.

FOOD NOT CONTAINING ANY INGREDIENTS OF ANIMAL ORIGIN

AJVAR (pronounced as ayvar) is a kind of salad, prepared from roasted paprika, garlic and aubergine. It is mostly red, but if it's green, than it's made from green tomatoes. It is sour and refreshing and can be found in restaurants. It can also be found in supermarkets, packed in jars.

PINDŽUR (pronounced as pin-joor) is similar to ajvar, but it is not minced, but cut into small pieces. It is made from tomatoes and paprika. The taste is also sour and refreshing.




PREBRANAC (pronounced as preh-branats) is traditional meal made of kidney-beans. It should be posno, but be sure to ask if there is any sausages or other meat in it (sometimes they put meat in it).



Paprika stuffed with nuts (no need for Serbian name, because these can be found only in restaurants, which usually have menues in English).

KISELI KUPUS is literally "sour cabbage", a Serbian specialty that you should try. It is used for salads, and some other meals (mostly with meat). Unfortunately, it is only available during winter period.

PODVARAK is a meal made of sour cabbage. Should not contain any meat, but be sure to ask before you order.






There are many international, Chinese and other restaurants in Belgrade that have vegetarian food selection, but only 3 vegetarian restaurants: Slasta, Priroda (Svetogorska 18, 011/ 334 51 81) and Joy of the Heart (Batutova 11, 011/ 241 1890).

Well, that would be all that I could remember. I hope that you will find this post useful, and that it will make your visit easier.

I also ask my fellow citizens to leave me a suggestion, if they can think of anything else that could be added to this list.


Please notice that none of these photographs are not my property.

5 comments:

belgraded.com said...

Falafel at Narodnog Fronta 70 (i think that's the number, it's there somewhere anyway).
Non-meat burek can also be made on animal fat, so always ask first!

merkat said...

Thanks for the info :o)

Also, I have to add that I have seen one comment that Priroda restaurant is no longer vegetarian restaurant, but only a common cafe.

However, Narodnog fronta street in the center of the city has changed its name long time ago to Kraljice Natalije, but there is still one street with that name in Zvezdara area - which one of those two do you mean?

merkat said...

I'll have to check about the restaurant...

Jessica said...

Thank you! Your post descriptions and pictures have helped us enormously during our visit to Belgrade :)

I will miss pita od krompira, they are very tasty, and I found out about them because of your post.

merkat said...

Thank you Jessica! :o)
I am SO glad that I was able to help you enjoy your stay in Belgrade, and I hope you'll be back again.

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