Croatian national cuisine has 2 main groups, depending on the climatic regions of the country:
- the cuisine of the Central region (Zagreb, Slavonia), and
- the cuisine of the Adriatic coast (Istria, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik)
In the Central region of Croatia, where meat dishes predominate, the cuisine has strong influences from Arab, Turkish, Austrian and Hungarian cuisines.
In comparison to above, the influence of Italian cuisine heavily characterizes the Croatian cuisine from Adriatic coast, and a wide variety of seafood and fish dishes are very popular here.
Nevertheless, in all regions of Croatia there are culinary delights that you must definitely try.
For a snack in Croatia, they will offer you pickled anchovies, salted sardines, cold cuts, and local cheeses.
1. Prosciutto – The most common snack in Croatia, an obligatory component of any holiday table, is prosciutto. It is a home dried ham from Istria and Dalmatia. Prosciutto is put on the table as long and very thin slices, and is usually complemented by onions, olives and cheese next to it.
2. Hard Pag cheese – this cheese, whose homeland is the island of Pag, is made from sheep’s milk. It has an extraordinary rich taste and smell that it acquires due to a variety of spices used to make it. To enhance the taste during ripening, the cheese is regularly flavored with olive oil. It is usually served as coarse triangular slices.
3. Kulen – Another national Croatian snack is Kulen from Slavonia. It is a spicy sausage made from large pieces of pork, highly seasoned with all kinds of spices and paprika, and has a uniue color. Kulen is so very popular that because of it, in many cities of Croatia, every year they organize the national holiday of sausages called “Kulenijada”.
Most soups in Croatia are cooked in beef or chicken broths, with the addition of rice, pasta or dumplings. They also like fish soup here, which they simply call the “fish soup”.
Pureed mashed soups – Croatian food is quite rare. It is not customary to eat tomato soup here as an ordinary cold gazpacho. In this country it is cooked with a lot of rice, richly seasoned and served hot.
Manestra – this is the name of the famous and very hearty Croatian soup, which in its consistency is more like vegetable stew. This is really not a regular and ordinary food. It is characterized by a unique combination of tastes. Beans, corn, and pasta are used for its preparation.
Warm Croatian dishes
Under the peka or under the bell – Especially popular in Croatia is food from “under the bell” – the so-called traditional way of cooking. Pieces of different products like potatoes, meat, fish, squid, etc are put in a deep pan, tightly closed with a lid and put in the oven. The cooking process seems quite simple, but in reality it requires a certain talent.
Pastas – As for pasta, in Croatian cuisine there are many of types available: macaroni, Plucans, shurlits, fuzhi, pasutitsy and Mlintsy. Not only is the appearance of these pasta surprising, but so is process of their preparation. For example, mlintsy square-shaped pasta is first baked until crisp, and then put into boiling water until cooked.
Black Risotto – There is a unique black risotto in the Croatian national cuisine, a dish that should appeal to fans of exotic and seafood. Risotto is prepared from rice, squid and cuttlefish – it is the ink of the latter that gives this dish an unusual black color and a unique taste.
Fish and seafood
Croatian cuisine offers a huge selection of seafood and fish dishes.
Brudet – The most famous food (mainly in Dalmatia and Istria) from fish is Brudet or Brodet. The dish is prepared from several types of fish, pieces of which are layered in a saucepan, sprinkled with spices and poured over with sauce made of red wine, olive oil and tomato paste. The pan is placed on a small fire so that its contents are stewed in the dressing. While cooking, it is allowed to shake the dishes slightly, but the contents of the pan cannot be disturbed.
Traditionally, brudet is served with porridge made from corn grits – a thick, beautiful golden color.
Fried fish with chard – is a favorite food in Dalmatia, perfectly embodying the idea of a healthy diet. The fish is fried over hot coals, then spread on the sweet leaves of the chard, and is eaten with boiled potatoes. It is generously seasoned with olive oil, herbs and garlic sauce.
Croatian meat dishes
Croatian cuisine has a lot of dishes prepared from different types of meat.
Pashtitsada – enjoys constant popularity among fans of filling and tasty meals. This hearty meat dish is prepared as follows. The beef is kept for a day in a special sauce, and then stewed in the same sauce in a saucepan over low heat. The sauce (thick and very aromatic) is a mixture of red wine, garlic, prunes, onions, rosemary, sage, cloves, nutmeg. Pashtitsada is served with dumplings.
Begovic – In Croatian cuisine there are many recipes for a lamb dishes. The most savory dish – begovic – is made from the meat of a young lamb and sheep’s sour milk.
Croatians like to cook lamb on a spit and roast lamb. Large pieces of lamb or a whole lamb are fried over hot coals; the roast is tasty and very juicy. It is served with fresh lettuce or with green onions.
Cevapi – The cult dish, and not just the national dish of Croatia is Cevapi or Chevapchichi. Cevapi are small sausages from minced meat, which are fried on a wire rack over hot coals. The restaurants serve a portion of 10 cevapi, complemented with baked or fried potatoes and a large portion of onion rings. By the way, potatoes may not always be served, but onions are required.
If we talk about desserts of Croatian cuisine, we should note that there is fundamental difference between cakes with heavy fat cream, to which we are accustomed, and the Croatian ones.
Croatian cakes are prepared with low-fat types of cream, and instead of sugar, honey is most often used, so they are low in calories.
Desserts in Croatia are usually based on fresh fruits or dried fruits, and nuts are decorated with confectionery.
What sweet foods can you pamper yourself with while in Croatia? There are many interesting desserts, for example, Fritula brushwood, Rafiola almond cakes and fig cookies.
Zuccharines are also extremely tasty – small cakes soaked in famous brandy. Rozhata cake is, in essence, a creamy caramel in a large form, which is served in pieces.
Stonsky cake is a sweet casserole made of small pasta tubes with nuts and chocolate. And on Easter holidays in Croatia they bake tweezers – a pie characterized by a very delicate taste.
Lastly, one cannot ignore the Midzhmur gibanitsa – a layer cake with nuts, apples, poppy seeds and cottage cheese, generously sprinkled with powdered sugar.
What to drink in Croatia
The main drink in Croatia is wine. The Croats even claim that “a day without wine is like a day without sun”. Wine in this country is traditionally diluted with water (plain or soda). Among the most popular varieties are Gemišt, a dry white wine drunk with mineral water, and Spicer which is drunken with soda. Sweet wines like Prošek and Malvazija are also popular here.
Croats also love to drink their strong brandy called rakia. Rakia which is made from plums is called slivovitz and rakia that is infused with herbs is called travarica.
Food prices in Croatia
In all cities of Croatia, food prices in public places are on the same level. So, lunch in an inexpensive restaurant for one person will cost an average of 45 Croatian kuna. A dinner will be about 200 kunas for two people in a mid-range restaurant.
So, about prices in restaurants in Croatia? The price of the main dish with seafood or a large piece of meat (veal, pork) is about 70 kunas. Soup (tomato, beef) is offered at a price of up to 10 kuna per serving, the price of mushroom cream soup is almost 2 times higher. Good dinner wine can be bought at a price of 50 kuna per bottle.
What are the food prices in Croatia in a cafe?
- A portion of potatoes with fish – 18 kuna
- A large dish with meat – 30 kuna
- Sandwiches and hamburgers – 10 to 25 kunas apiece, depending on size
- Sausages – 5-7 kunas
- Cakes – 12-17 kunas
- Baked apples – 10
- Espresso and cappuccino – 8 and 10 kunas, respectively
- Ball of ice cream ball – 8 kunas
- Small portion of popcorn – 10 kunas
- Baked corn and chestnuts – 10 kunas
By the way, to avoid surprises, when ordering fish dishes you need to know that restaurants and cafes almost always provide the price of 100 g their menus, and they cook the whole fish. Hence, serving size must be agreed with the waiter in advance.