Zagreb has a rich history when it comes to cuisine and everyone knows that Croatia is famous for seafood because of its boundless access to the Adriatic Sea.
While you can find great seafood in Zagreb too, its gastronomic traditions have focused on more hearty, continental dishes.
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Meat dishes are staples in the Zagreb home and restaurant, but cottage cheese also plays an important role in many dishes famous in Zagreb.
This blog post explores some of the time-honored dishes you can enjoy in Zagreb.
Have these as an appetiser…
Sir i vrhnje is a mixture of cottage cheese and sour cream. A classic you’re sure to find the ingredients for at the Dolac Market! Sir i vrhnje is typically mixed with some garlic and spices and enjoyed with bread but can be a key ingredient to more complicated meals as well.
Štrukli is a pastry filled with sour cream and cottage cheese (sir i vrhnje again!). This is a truly hearty and delicious dish which you can have prepared boiled or baked, sweet or savoury. You can also commonly find štrukli in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region. .
Zagreb has a restaurant specifically devoted to this delicious, comforting dish! It’s located right in the city center and their specialty is štrukli (always plural). There you’ll find the traditional preparation with cheese and sour cream but you can also try some less traditional fillings such as walnut with honey or truffle!
Order these as a main dish…
The direct translation is “Zagreb Steak”. Similar to the Cordon bleu, Zagrebački odrezak is typically veal but also sometimes pork or chicken that has been pounded out thin and stuffed with cheese and ham. It’s then breaded and fried up to perfection!
Purica i mlinci is a traditional dish of roast turkey and a side of homemade flatbread that resembles noodles. Mlinci (always plural) is similar to Jewish Matzah bread and you’ll commonly see it at the markets. It’s sold in thin sheets that you then take and soak in water to create a noodle-like side dish. After soaking, you bake the noodles with the roasted turkey to finish the meal.
To get a truly traditional experience you should climb Medvednica just to the north of Zagreb and have lunch in one of the several mountain huts. Enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, the mountain huts serve several traditional dishes. We heard all of those taste best paired with a glass of Gemišt . ;-)
Try these as a dessert…
Paprenjaci are similar to a ginger snap because of the heavy reliance on spices but what makes paprenjaci (paprenjak sg.) special is the unique blend of black pepper and honey. This cookie dates back to at least the 16th century and is traditionally eaten at Christmas time. Often, you’ll see them stamped with intricate designs that make them lovely to look at, but more importantly they’re absolutely delicious to eat!
Orehnjača (Orah → walnut) is a nut roll commonly made with walnuts. It’s made by rolling out bread dough thinly, spreading a mixture of honey and finely diced walnuts and then rolling them up into a log shape. This results in a beautiful spiral formation when you slice into the log. Another really traditional dessert for Christmas dinner but you’ll also find them available all winter long at the markets.
Exercise: Do you know the following Croatian words?
To broaden your knowledge about Croatian cuisine, read our blog post on traditional (and famous ☺) Croatian dishes.
You can also improve your vocabulary with our free vocab trainer. For more focused learning, make sure you filter vocabulary by category ”Food”.
If you are interested in preparing some of these meals yourself, you’ll find numerous different recipes on the internet. Before you get to cooking though, learn a few things about quantities and amounts in Croatian.
Exercise: Watch the following video to learn how to prepare Zagreb steak. Do you understand the instructions?