There has been a long tradition of cattle breeding in Serbia, and especially so in Banat, where nature has provided the cattlemen with all the resources necessary for producing milk and cheese. The skill of cheese production has been transfered from generation to generation. In this part of the Pannonian Plain different types of cheeses have been produced. Widely recognised Mokrin cheese (rolled cheese) made of cow milk, Banat cow cheese in a bowl of fresh milk, Banat sheep cheese in brine, Mošorin fresh cheese made of cow milk, Irig fresh cheese made of cow milk, and Sombor cheese in a vat labeled for protected geographical origin are all just a part of the wide assortment of authentic Vojvodinian cheeses. The art of sausage making in Vojvodina dates back in the age of the Roman Empire. Production of delicatessen such as kulen, ham, bacon, čvarci (cracklings), and pihtije (aspic) has been practiced in a lot of households in Vojvodina. Thanks to a long tradition and expertise in the production of delicatessen, together with the favourable natural conditions for cattle breeding, cattle food production and meat drying and ageing, a high level of product quality has been achieved. Thanks to their high quality and specific characteristics, these products have gained favourable reputation and respect within consumers. Drying is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. Our platter consists of the products that have been awarded EatPannonia trademark badge in a very strong competition. This process ensures high ratings among the experts in the field of food technology, gastronomy, tourism and catering.
A plum is called a rose of a Serbian orchard. The tradition of plum breeding in Serbia goes back for ages. A legend has it that people used to build their houses in places where the land was favourable for plum breeding. In the middle ages, plums were bred in monastery land and feudal properties. According to Serbian tradition, plum fruit has been used to make plum brandy (šljivovica) as well as plum jam. Only a small amount of plums are dried. Apart from the famous sausages and ham, bacon has been recognised in this area since forever. Be it coocek, dried or smoked, bacong has been sung about in the following way: “Bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner; bacon when corn is cropped; bacon when a field is dug; etc.“ Seoski čekić is a specific morsel containg all the treasures of Vojvodina orchards, cotes and meadows.
Homemade bread, fresh and hot out of the oven, is well known to leave nobody indifferent. But why leave it at that? Careful processing of fresh raspberries, with sugar and a few special ingredients (depending on the housewife), gives us spread that can be used throughout a year. Influenced by modern cuisines, we wanted to combine sweet and salty flavours, but never have we even imagined for the salty goat chees with herbs and the delicious raspberry to be such a score. It can be both a pleasant refreshment and a successful start of a business meeting. Goat cheese, with its pungent taste and crumbly texture, is known to be one of the healthiest cheeses. Goat cheese contains high density lipoproteins which makes it more easily digested than cow cheese and lower in calories than most other cheeses.
Goose liver pate is a delicacy starter that used to be served only in French court but also on the dining tables in households all around Pannonian Plain. Here it was made of free range geese in Pannonian farms. Today it is more and more complicated to get goose liver, but exclusive restaurants still offer homemade goose pate in their menues. This tasty delicacy is considered to be healthy and lowering your LDL cholesterol. One is for sure - goose liver is pure delicacy that has deserved its place in our menu.
Even before we who are reading this at the moment have started to enjoy food (and it has been a long time ago), our mothers would take a piece of bread and spread it with pure pig fat, season it with just a little salt and a pinch of Aleva paprika powder. In summer we even got two or three pieces so we could stay out longer and play with our friends. Pure joy... It was not important whose yard we were playing in, if we were hungra there was bread - every household had it. Fat was taken out from a huge vat brought from the village in time of traditional pig slaughtering. Aleva was made by beating pepper, left after the stuffed pepper season, in a flask for grain. This for sure is one of our proudly presented starters or appetizers that makes us all smile and brings back memories of childhood.
Guinea fowl soup is served in restaurants that cherish the tradition of old dishes from Vojvodina. It is also often served in traditional farms (salaš) in Vojvodina. Traditional farms (salaš) in Vojvodina, and especially in Bačka, are well known for breeding guinea fowl. The specific breed typical of Vojvodina is the helmeted guinea fowl. They are ill-tempered poultry, producing an irritating sound that announces predators or reptiles. For this reason they used to be considered as excellent guards on farms. Guinea fowl originates from a sub-Saharan Africa where it still lives as an autochthonous species in its natural habitat. In Europe, it has been bred as a farm animal. Guinea fowls are best bred extensively (they are prone to “organic breeding”), with just a small percentage of concentrates in their food. Above all, guinea fowls like freedom. From all the galliformes, they resemble their wild ancestors the most. If bred free range, they hide their nests which is a major problem in farm breeding. Guinea fowl meat is dark in colour, tastes a lot like the meat of pheasant, partridge or quail and is highly valued. The specific characteristics of guinea fowl meat is what gives the guinea fowl soup such a lavish taste. It is a dish traditionally prepared in special occasions in the farms of Vojvodina. In the castles of Vojvodina, guinea fowl soup was served as a part of luxurious meals as well as a healing hot dish for the sick ones.
The most popular and the most famous pottage in Vojvodina is the pumpkin pottage. Traditionally, it is made in autumn when fresh, ripe pumpkins are available. It is especially popular in fasting. Pumpkin is a traditionally bred plant in Vojvodina, right after wheat. Baked pumpkin was an everyday dish for the farmers in Vojvodina during winter period. Large, fleshy pieces of pumpkin (together with the peel) are put in a casserole and into an oven to be baked while ruddy on the outside and dark on the ends. The moment they cool down a bit, one could eat them, and if the housewife sprinkled it with powder sugar it would make a special joy for the children. Pumpkin is now an important plant bred all around the world, first of all for its affordable price and high nutritional value. It can be eaten fresh or processed into a puree, syrup, jelly, or jam in order to extend its expiry date. It is one of the leading vegetables for its dietary importance and nutritional value. Its pulp’s specific sweetness is increased in thermal treatment. It is a natural resource of antioxidants well known for their health benefits. It also includes a high percentage of bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids and polyphenols that are known for their antioxidant characteristics. Pumpkins are also rich in fibers, proteins, polysaccharides, and minerals. Its nutritional value and dietary importance make it one of the leading vegetables in human diet. The most famous pumpkin breed in Vojvodina is the Banat Ludaja - large in size and lavish in sweetness and aroma, it has been bred in Banat for more than 30 years and people celebrate its long tradition in an event called The Days of Ludaja in Kikinda.
Pannonian Plain is well known for numerous water resources (rivers, lakes and swamps), so it came natural for the inhabitants to tame wild geese and start breeding them as farm animals. Goose stew is an old, traditional dish from Syrmia (Srem) which is a compound of different ingredients used in past and having high ethnographic importance. Geese are bred for traditional Christmas customs as well as for practical reasons such as the production of goose fat and goose feathers used for making soft feather covers for winter periods. Geese are relatively cheap and easy to breed so they naturally found their place in the traditional dishes one of which is the stew. Spicy paprika was introduced to Syrmia cuisine under Austro-Hungarian influence and thus it is used in preparing stew as well. Goose stew used to be prepared during week days as it is a dish that can easily be heated up, and in case all meat was eaten from it the cook would add noklice (dumplings) and turn it into a new dish the next day called the “blind” stew. Goose meat is dark poultry meat of a specific, even pungent smell.
Pork shank stewed in dark beer is a stamp in gastro heritage of Vojvodina made by Germans and Czechs who invaded these territories in different historical periods thus bringing their own culture that included gastronomic customs. When the Ottomans left this region and the Austrians invaded it, the lords in Vojvodina showed their interest in beer production and consumption. The first breweries in Vojvodina were founded at the beginning of the XVIII century, even though beer was consumed here as early as the Nemanjić dynasty (1169 - 1371). Pork shank stewed in beer is a dish which contains the tradition of Vojvodina (hop and beer production, vegetable production and cattle breeding as the most important segments in the agriculture of the region) as well as the heritage of the nations that started these customs.
Hearths used to be central places in households where meals were prepared and family members talked and spent time together. Preparing meals at the hearth included using sač (a loanword from Turkish). In the open hearth the cook used to make room in the embers and put fresh meat and sides in the baking pan (crepulja), then he or she used sač (a kind of lid) to cover the pan and finally cover the sač in embers. Sač is still used in preparing dishes for the unique taste it gives to the food prepared in this way. The secret lies in fresh meat being slowly stewed in its own juices while the process is being overlooked and the embers added over the sač in order to keep the temperature constant.
Long hunting tradition lies in the foundation of traditional preparation of game dishes. There are dozens of hunting sites in Vojvodina that offer excellent natural conditions for hunting different breeds of game (doe, pheasant, quail, deer, and wild boar). In modern times people are becoming more and more interested in foods of natural origin. Game meat obtained from animals that live freely in their natural habitat and feed on natural food without concentrates, is of great value for the customers. Stews have been traditionally prepared in Vojvodina under the influence of Hungarian cuisine. Depending on the meat in the stew, other ingredients can be added and thus refine the dish even more. Cipovka - a traditional bread of Vojvodina, makes a synergy with the stew which brings back the atmosphere of old times in the perfect abundancy of tastes, smells and texture. Game meat is a natural source of proteins and offers a sustainable alternative to conventional red meat for modern consumers. Doe meat is high in nutritional value, proteins and iron, and low in saturated fat. Modern consumers are being more and more worried for the quality of meat they eat. As a result, there is a growing demand for the fresh products of high nutritional value, specific taste, texture, aroma and natural origin.
Perch is a species of fish most often found in Europe, indigenous to the basin of the ancient Danube when the Pannonian Sea flew into the Black Sea. In its meat structure it resembles sea fish. Grilled white perch meat full of flavours does not need a lot of spices and with just some boiled vegetables on the side it used to be a common meal of fishermen who always kept the catch for themselves and their families. According to gastro etiquette, we have added a few flavours and some colours in order to bring the best out of this Danube predator swimming like a true gentleman through the cleanest parts of the river towards our plates.
Preparing fish dishes has become tradition in Vojvodina thanks to an important influence of large water flows in this area as well as a lot of fish ponds used for breeding different traditional species of freshwater fish. Fish broth, fish stew and the famous drunken carp have all had a long tradition and have usually been served in traditional restaurants called “čarda” located at the banks of rivers. It is important to highlight that Ečka fish pond, one of the biggest fish ponds in Europe, is located in Vojvodina. This fish pond is well known for breeding Ečka carp, labeled for geographical origin, having high quality and reputation in both domestic and international markets thanks to the specific characteristics of the Ečka fish pond and the exceptional expertise of the fishermen. Besides high quality fish, Vojvodina is famous for the production of excellent wines in small family wineries at the slopes of Fruška Gora Mountain, Vršac Mountain and the northern Bačka sand planes. It is not a surprise for a fish out of water to swim best in wine, so this traditional dish is lavish enough for a traditional Christmas table as well as to welcome an important guest.
Sausages have been prepared in Syrmia since the Roman ages which is evidenced by “Lucanika” sausage from Sirmium brought here by Roman soldiers from the province of Lucania. Original recipe for Lucanika by Marcus Gavius Apicius was found in a script from the IX century AD and can now be seen in the Vatican Library in Rome. Thanks to their high quality and specific characteristics, some kinds of sausages have gained high reputation and respect among the customers. Making sausages of mangulica meat is a tradition practiced by the inhabitants of this region in winter, and is still kept in numerous households. Nurturing the tradition of meat processing, a lot of small plants have been founded that have been using traditional recipes and methods in sausage production. Preservation of vegetables in a traditional method of fermentation is also a few-century- long custom for the inhabitants of this region. In a large number of households, cabbage is traditionally pickled in autumn. From all different sorts of cabbage, the Futog cabbage is the most respectable one. Futog sour cabbage is labeled for geographical origin - name of origin, and is an excellent ingredient for making podvarak. Grill mangulica sausages served on podvarak are a nutritional and sensory treasure that preserves traditional values. Breeding old autochthonous breeds of pig, especially mangulica, has become common in Serbia. Mangulica is a typical representative of fat domestic pig having the status of “sustainably endangered” breed. It is one of the breeds with the highest percentage of fat, 65-70%. Meat quality, taste and consistency are highly valued. Fresh mangulica meat is of pungent smell, juicy and soft in texture. Mangulica meat is recommended in the diet of people who have high protein and energy demand. comparing to other breeds, mangulica meat contains a much higher percentage of fat and lower percentage of water, which is an excellent condition for producing traditional delicatessen.
Cabbage production has a long tradition in this region, dating back to XVI century. Futog cabbage was used to supply Austrian Royal Army, to pay taxes and it was even sold as medicine. Futog cabbage has a protected label of geographical origin. The complete production process, from the production of seeds to the production of fully bred cabbage heads, is done in the geographically defined area of Futog and in specific methodology resulting in high quality products of reliable origin. Fresh cabbage salad is traditionally prepared from May to November and is one of the most commonly consumed salads in this area. We refine this salad by adding walnuts, cream and horseradish to it. Walnuts are also a part of the tradition of the region. They are planted in farm yards where their handred-year-old treetops provide deep shades that make the sweltering summers at farms bearable. Adding cream to salads and dishes is a common practice in Vojvodina cuisine. It is aimed at refining the flavour, smell and texture of the dish. Apart from this refinement, adding walnuts, cream and horseradish to the salad makes it nutritionally richer. Apart from having bactericidal characteristics, fresh cabbage essential oils also lower the level of cholesterol in blood, thus being an excellent food for people with high blood cholesterol or high blood pressure. Fresh cabbage also contains lots of carbohydrates, starch, cellulose and hemicellulose. The importance of cabbage as food is significant. People use the head of this vegetable in their diet. The head is preferably dense, sweet in flavour, healthy, of soft leaves, different in weight, but specific of each sort or hybrid. All the mentioned characteristics will define whether the specific sort of cabbage will be used fresh or processed.
Pepper is traditionally used in Vojvodina cuisine for the preparation of fresh salads, pickled salads, side dishes and main courses. Mid Banat gives highly favourable conditions for the growth of different sorts of pepper suitable for salads or baking. Traditional preparation of baked pepper seasoned with garlic and oil is widespread in the Balkans. Apart from high quality pepper grown in Banat and Bačka regions, we would also like to mention another specific delicacy of Vojvodina. In the north of Banat, in a small village called Vrbica, a special sort of garlic labeled for geographic origin is grown. This is an old sort which is known to be grown for more than 300 years. What is specific of this sort is the fact that it is hand-grown, planted in spring and keeping its flavour, smell and aroma throughout the year.
In hot summer days, when meals are served outside in the yard, the youngest family member had to run to the garden and pick some homebred lettuce. The dressing was always ready: salt, apple cider vinegar and some sunflower oil. In order to compliment the queen of the Vojvodina gardens, we made hazelnut oil dressing which is beneficial for cardiovascular system, helps cell regeneration, strengthens capillaries, and helps digestion. The oil is produced by cold-pressing raw homebred hazelnut kernels (Corylus avellana). Additional freshness and benefits are achieved by adding grapes to this salad so the experience is guaranteed to be both enjoyable and healthy.
Even though lots of the neighbouring countries are more than willing to state that dumplings are their own traditional dish, this food has most likely been introduced to Vojvodina cuisine from Hungary. Potato dough with a plum inside, tucked into bread crumbs, makes a perfect morsel - a dumpling. It can traditionally be eaten after soup as a complete meal or after a main course as a dessert. Today, you can meet different kinds of dumplings with different kinds of fillings, but the traditional one is the plum dumpling. Plum is the most commonly bred fruit in Serbia, and the one with the highest economic importance. Based on the data by Food and Agriculture Organization in the United Nations (FAO) in 2019 Serbia was in the third place in the world for plum production, having an average annual yield of 600,000 tons.
A traditional German dessert made itself at home in our country, too. Its fantastic smell brings us all back to childhood. “Šlafrok” is a German word for a gown which is in this case made of a crunchy dough wrapping around the apple. Fruit growing has a long tradition in Vojvodina. Certain regions are known to be favourable for certain species for their pedological and climatic conditions. That is why fruit desserts tradition has been kept to present days. Apple growing is characteristic of Fruška Gora region, Banat region, Bela Crkva in specific where there are numerous apple orchards, as well as northern Bačka region, around Subotica. Fruit grown on sandy soil is of high value as it develops a lavish aroma.
Salenjaci (lard cakes) are the most famous dessert in the Pannonian Plain. They are a true synergy of all traditional ingredients and customs. These cakes are a real ethnographic treasure as well as an expertise test for housewives and cooks. The ingredients and the creation of salenjaci is real art. They connect two traditional ingredients - flour made of the best grain in Europe and pig lard obtained from the most widespread farm animal in the region, with a traditional custom - svinjokolj (pig slaughtering) that has been kept in the Pannonian Plain for centuries. Salenjaci were most usually prepared on the occasion of svinjokolj, using fresh lard kept outside in the cold weather to “stiffen”. They are a real energy bomb, and the skilled housewives thus found a way to use the lower quality part of pig obtained in svinjokolj. Salenjaci are wintertime, cheap but somewhat complex dessert to make. They are made of puff risen yeast dough and filled with homemade jam. Well-made salenjaci are a pride of every housewife. The preparation process includes rising yeast dough, rolling it with a rolling pin, spreading ground lard on it, folding it three times to make it puff, cutting it, filling it with jam and baking it in an oven. Apart from high energy value, salenjaci have long expiry date and do not easily go bad, and for the high percentage of fat stay soft for a few days. As it is well known that fat gives flavour to food, it is not hard to conclude that salenjaci are very aromatic and lavish in taste because of high percentage of fat and the sugar that caramelizes during baking.
As the whole of the Pannonian Plain is a grain growing region, flour is a dominant ingredient in Vojvodina cuisine. Traditionally, desserts used to be made of the ingredients that were available and easy to cook. One of these desserts are definitely noodles with poppy seeds. Apart from the mentioned simplicity in dessert cooking, it is no wonder that poppy seeds found their place in the Vojvodina cuisine. As risen dough and cakes were prepared in special occasions only, noodles with poppy seeds were more often a family dessert or even an energy filler in days of intensive field works. As they consist of flour and sugar, they have a high energy value. This dessert is traditionally made for Christmas Eve in Vojvodina. Poppy, widespread all around Pannonian fields and alleys and well known in medicine for making morphine, has also found its place in Vojvodina cuisine, especially in sweet dishes.
Be it a special occasion or an everyday lunch, cakes are an indispensable part of the Pannonian cuisine. As they are served after a hearty meal, cakes must have a good reputation not to be rejected. They can also shared with somebody at the table. The choice and combination of ingredients in a cake depends on the cook. Our chef has chosen poppy, as poppy seeds are widely used in this region usually soaked in milk and sugar, and they give an irresistible flavour and texture to dishes. The combination of melted white chocolate and homemade jam gives us a delicacy worthy of everybody’s attention, even the ones who “do not have a sweet tooth”.