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Albanian Cuisine: Traditional Dishes and Recipes

Nadia Galinova
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Nadia Galinova
Albanian Cuisine: Traditional Dishes and Recipes

Albanian cuisine is the national cuisine of the country of Albania, located on the Balkan Peninsula. The favorable climate, proximity to the sea, rich historical past and relations with neighboring countries have had a huge impact on the diversity and abundance of Albanian cuisine. Byzantine, Venetian, Ottoman and Arab cultures are mixed.

Special products in Albanian cuisine

Vegetables in Albanian cuisine

As with any other Mediterranean cuisine, Albanian is dominated by vegetables. The most popular of them are eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and legumes.

Meat and fish in Albanian cuisine

Lamb is widely used in Albanian cuisine. The best lambs are said to be raised in the Valera area. A special delicacy is the meat of animals raised on the Karaburun Peninsula near Vlore - this is an nature park.

Beef, rabbit and chicken are also used in Albanian cuisine.

Fish and seafood dishes are widespread. Saltwater fish is a daily dish. Among the freshwater fish, trout and carp are popular.

Dairy products in Albanian cuisine

Milk and dairy products play an important role in Albanian cuisine. Yogurt is consumed by Albanians on a daily basis and is the basis of many sauces and other dishes. Albania also produces cheese, the most popular of which is white cheese made from sheep's milk.

Spices in Albanian cuisine

The main spices of Albanian cuisine are black pepper, garlic, oregano, parsley, dill, cinnamon, mint, cloves and bay leaves.

Traditional dishes in Albanian cuisine

Albanian bread

Bread gets a lot of attention in Albanian cuisine. No meal is complete without white or corn bread. And even the invitation to the table in Albanian is literally translated as "let's eat bread".

Albanian soups

In Albania, soups are conventionally divided into summer and winter. Cold soups are prepared with vinegar, cucumber, garlic, walnuts, dill and spices. And the winter ones are mostly made from potatoes.

Tarator - soup from yogurt, cucumbers, onions and grated walnuts. It is served cold.

Cucumber soup - resembles okroshka.

Main dishes in Albanian cuisine

As a rule, the most common Albanian dishes typical of Balkan cuisine are meat dishes. Albania is no exception. The main dishes here are different variations of stews, meatballs and various meat broths.

Fried meatballs are usually prepared in the following way: Ground meat, breadcrumbs, butter, onion, parsley and mint are mixed thoroughly and sprinkled with salt, oregano and black pepper. Then they are rolled in flour and fried in hot oil. Serve hot with fries or mashed potatoes.

Stuffed peppers are another popular dish. The peppers are usually stuffed with meat, rice, fried onions, chopped dill and parsley.

Cheese and spinach pie is also very popular.

Albanian Pie

There is a variety of rice dishes in Albania. When preparing rice dishes according to Albanian recipes, it is best to use Basmati variety. It is fried, boiled, baked until the rice is moist and starchy in texture. In Albanian cuisine, rice is usually fried for a few minutes in a combination of olive oil and butter before adding spices and then stewed in broth mixed with boiling water.

Byrek is a favorite dish of Albanian cuisine and is a pie filled with onions, cheese, meat and spinach. Byrek is the national pride of Albanian cuisine. It is made from 40 layers of the thinnest dough, which is rolled out by hand and filled with filling. The dough is so thin that the total height of these 40 layers does not exceed 5-6 cm.

Lakror is a traditional Albanian cake. It is made from stretched dough with different fillings: spinach with cheese, leek with cheese, minced meat with onions, tomatoes with peppers and many others.

Tave kosi is a traditional Albanian dish, one of the most popular in Albania. It's roasted lamb with rice and yogurt.

Schumlek/chomlek (Cömlek) - meat stewed with onions and vegetables.

Fërges is a traditional Albanian dish. There are two options for Ferges: vegetable (tomato and red pepper roasted with feta cheese) and meat (sliced beef or beef liver baked with feta cheese). The most popular version of this dish is Fërges Tirane, originally from Albania's capital, Tirana.

Rostomi salce kosi - roasted beef in yogurt sauce.

Kukurec is sheep's liver stuffed with meat and vegetables.

Kukurec - Albanian dish

Arapash is an Albanian dish made from corn flour cooked with lamb liver.

Salads and snacks in Albanian cuisine

All salads in Albania are prepared with fresh vegetables. Basically, these are tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and olives seasoned with salt, olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice.

Desserts in Albanian cuisine

An important part of Albanian cuisine is the baking and the preparation of desserts. Albania is a paradise for sweet things. There are countless varieties of baklava, kadaif and other desserts.

Baklava - a dessert made of thin dough soaked in honey and filled with dried fruit. The legacy of the Ottoman Empire.

Lokum - pieces of steamed pumpkin rolled in powdered sugar. It also comes from Turkish cuisine.

Crêpe - thin pancakes.

Petulla - donuts.

Oshav - sweet rice cakes with honey.

Akullore is traditional Albanian ice cream with its own unusual taste.

Kabuni is a sweet rice pudding with spices and fruits.

Drinks in Albanian cuisine

Coffee in Albania is Turkish (cafe turke) or espresso (cafe express), but they make it stronger.

Bose is a refreshing corn drink.

Rehani is a popular drink in Albanian cuisine made from grape juice.

Alcohol in Albanian cuisine

Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, Albania is quite strong in grape and wine production. Both red and white wines are made there. The most common varieties are Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Calmette, Sangiovese and Riesling.

As in other Balkan countries, the traditional strong alcoholic drink is brandy, which is made from fermented fruit. Usually grapes and plums are used for the production of brandy in Albania. It is usually served with antipasti or feta cheese.

Ouzo (UZO) - an anise liqueur of Greek origin, popular in Albania.

Fernet herbal tincture is traditionally produced in Korča and also deserves attention.