Although Serbia is known as the land of meat, there is a large selection of traditional vegan food in Belgrade. The culture of each nation is best learned through its food, so it is very important to taste what is traditional and what is commonly prepared in every home in Serbia.
Interesting fact: There are fasting periods in Serbia that are related to Orthodox religion. They last for a couple of weeks, several times a year. During these periods, many Serbian believers eat food without dairy and meat products. Therefore, restaurants always offer plenty of dishes with a label “posno“, which means that it does not contain any ingredients of animal origin. The only thing that deviates from veganism and vegetarianism during the fasting period is the consumption of fish and honey.
Serbia is globally known for meat deacons, but it offers many vegan and vegetarian options. In fact, many traditional dishes are vegan friendly, healthy and tasty. There are many restaurants, especially in Belgrade, where you can find traditional vegan food. Here are some Serbian veggie dishes that we recommend you to try when you visit this country.
Prebranac in Serbia is an indispensable part of a fasting lunch or dinner the day before Christmas. In other Balkan countries, this dish is also often prepared. It is made of white beans and onion with bay leaves and paprika. It is usually served with crispy bread. The ingredients for this dish are very cheap, and it takes about 3 hours to prepare it. It is baked in the oven and has a creamy texture when it’s ready for tasting.
Slatki kupus (Sweet cabbage)
Despite the name, this is not a dessert. It is a meal that Serbs often consume for lunch. This is a cooked fresh cabbage with different vegetables. Each house has a unique recipe for sweet cabbage with various spices. The most important thing for this dish is to contain a lot of cabbage, some potatoes and carrots.
Cabbage is frequently used in Serbian cuisine. Many traditional dishes are based on it. Serbs often add beef or chicken meat to this dish, but you will always find a tasty veggie version of it. Like any other dish, Serbian sweet cabbage is also served with bread.
Posna sarma (Veggie stuffed cabbage rolls)
Sarma is the most famous winter dish in Serbia. It is traditionally made of minced meat, rice and onion, which are put on a whole leaf of sauerkraut, and rolled away from a cook. These cabbage rolls stuffed with meat are placed in a pot with bacon and dried meat between them and cooked for a long time. Luckily, there is a delectable veggie version of it, and Serbs mostly eat it during the fasting period. Due to that, cabbage leaves are filled with various vegetables, rice and onions instead of meat. Thanks to this, you can enjoy traditional dishes without any worry.
Ajvar (red paprika spread)
Ajvar is a must-try when you are in Serbia. It is a spread traditionally made of paprika, salt, garlic and oil, and it represents the part of winter stores in Serbia. Some housewives also add eggplant, herbs or tomato into it. You can eat ajvar as a salad, side dish or just on bread for breakfast.
The whole family is involved in preparing ajvar. The paprikas are first roasted, then peeled, deseeded, and cooked in a big pot. The process is time-consuming and messy, but the result is more than worth the effort.
Serbs are fans of pickles and adore to consume them during the winter. They pickle almost every vegetable and put them in big jars. Commonly, Serbs create a mixture of pickled cauliflowers, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, paprikas and serve them as one salad. The name for this salad in Serbian is turšija.
Serbian salad is easy to prepare, tasty, fresh and light. It consists of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, paprikas, onions, chili pepper if you prefer the spicy flavor, oil and salt. It is perfect for hot summer days and served in almost every restaurant in Serbia.
Žito (Serbian wheat pudding)
Žito is an old Serbian treat that is associated with many religious customs and holidays in Serbia. On Serbian slava (Saint Patron’s day), this is the first thing served to a guest with a glass of wine as soon as he enters the house. Regardless of traditional use, this is a very tasty treat that you will often find in old Belgrade pastry shops. It is made from ground boiled wheat grain, ground walnuts, sugar powder and nutmeg. It is often served with whipped cream.
Vanilice (Little vanilla cookies)
This dessert is declared as the best holiday cookie in the world on the culinary website FOOD52. In the traditional recipe, it contains eggs, but you can find a veggie variant due to the fasting in Serbia. It is inexpensive and extremely simple to make. The taste is better as the days pass because they become softer. It’s one of the favorite cakes to prepare for family celebrations. Serbs enjoy eating Vanilice with coffee or tea. Also, they are very creative in decorating these cookies, so you can find them in many different shapes, but the traditional ones are round. Their trademark is apricot jam, vanilla extract and sugar powder.
Bundevara (Serbian pumpkin pie)
This is an extremely healthy and juicy dessert, based on phyllo dough stuffed with grated pumpkin pulp, cinnamon and sugar. It’s perfect for those who don’t prefer too sweet delicacies. This pie is mostly prepared in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (north part of Serbia), which is famous for its sweet pastry.
We have listed some Serbian vegan dishes here. There are many more delicacies that you can try when you visit this country. Vegan food in Belgrade and other parts of Serbia is waiting for you! Enjoy your meal!