Recipes and more provided by our tour operator partner, Deyan, from Plateau Cycling based in Bulgaria.
Join us for a culinary bike tour across the Bulgarian-Romanian Dobrudja region. This region is bordered by the Danube River and the Black Sea and backed by the Balkan Mountains. The mild landscape of Dobrudja – “The Good Land”(“Dobro” meaning good in Bulgarian) is well known for its fertile black soil, windy coasts, and warm dry climate suitable for both recreational cycling and diverse farming.
On the eastern shores of the Balkan Peninsula, the land and the people maintain the agricultural and gastronomical histories of Europe. From the first traces of cultivated wheat in Europe to the gardening knowledge that spread throughout Southeastern Europe from the Bulgarian farmers, this region has produced and supplied the great markets of the 19th –century Istanbul, Budapest, Bucharest, and Odessa, which lasted till the Balkan Wars.
The Danube River and Black Sea tour highlights the rural culture and cuisine, the ancient historical heritage of the Dobrudja region, and the wildlife and migratory bird routes along the Black Sea.
These two remarkable recipes from Bulgaria will excite you to head to the market, buy a few vegetables, and spend half an hour in your kitchen for a taste of the European Orient. Note that no Bulgarian experience is complete without tarator (cold cucumber soup) for which you will need kiselo mlyako (Bulgarian yogurt) from 2.5 to 5.0% fat– but don’t worry, you can substitute your preferred plain yogurt.
(Summer green pepper dish)
This dish comes straight from the seasonal garden in Deyan’s country home in Nikolaevka village. It makes 3 servings.
Thin-walled green peppers – 450 g (about 3 cups)
Mellow juicy tomatoes – 1 kg (a little over 2 lbs)
1 green tomato
2-3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 mid-size carrots (optional)
Sunflower oil – 80-100 ml (approximately 5-7 tablespoons)
- Cut the pepper into big flat pieces.
- Peel the tomatoes. If they are hard to peel put them in boiled water for 5 seconds first, then in cold water, then peel.
- Chop the tomatoes into thin slices or cut in half and grate the halves.
- Chop the green tomato into cubes and the carrots into coins.
- Use a skillet or a sauté pan and heat sunflower oil. Note: Sunflower oil is recommended for a more neutral taste.
- Put the peppers in the pan. Fry them until they turn brown in places, then flip.
- Add the green tomato cubes and the carrots.
- Cook everything together for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
- Turn the stove to a simmer and leave it on low heat till the sauce thickens.
Serve with Bulgarian white cheese (a sheep’s milk cheese similar to feta).
Our gracious host and guide, Deyan, served his lyatna manjichka with zucchinis with minced meat, lovage, blue fenugreek, garlic, onion, and zucchini flower again from his garden. Everything was simple and delicious!
(Cucumber yogurt soup)
Later in Deyan’s home town of Varna on the coast of the Black Sea, his son Marko prepared tarator – the legendary yogurt soup of Bulgaria. This recipe makes 3 servings.
Cucumbers: 300-400 g. (about 2-3 cups)
Bulgarian yogurt (containing from 2% to 5% fat): 400 g. (approximately 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons)
Garlic: 1-2 cloves, chopped or grated
Walnuts, chopped or grated: 20 g. (optional) (almost 3 tablespoons)
Sunflower and olive oil: 40-50 ml. (1-1.5 tablespoons of each)
Water: 300 – 400 ml. (1.25 cups to 1.75 cups – depending on the yogurt fat percentage)
- Peel the cucumber.
- Grate the peeled cucumbers into a large bowl. Add the yogurt and stir till smooth.
- Pour in the sunflower oil (1-1.5 tablespoons) and stir again.
- Add the chopped dill, chopped or grated garlic, and pour the water in the bowl (300 ml. for 2% fat yogurt or 400 ml. for 5% fat yogurt).
- Stir again. Add a pinch of salt, the olive oil (1-1.5 tablespoons), and sprinkle the grated walnuts on top.
No heating or cooking as this is a cold soup!
The tarator is ready for serving in bowls. It can be drunk or eaten with a slice of bread. Deyan recommends trying it as a side dish for fried fish. His favorite is Balkan trout — one of the most popular fish in Bulgaria.
Enjoy your authentic cuisine and dream of a real cycling trip in Bulgaria, where you can taste tradition and history in the local herbs and fresh veggies. Authentic local food and yogurt tastings await you at every stop on this tour!