Kosovo is centrally located on the Balkan peninsula, so it’s no surprise that its traditional cuisine is similar to that of other countries in the Balkans. Kosovar cuisine is heavily influenced by Serbian, Albanian, Greek, Italian, Turkish, and Croatian cuisines, and many of the staple dishes are just variants of foods seen in other countries.
Just like those other cuisines, Kosovo food is high in calories, hearty, and exceptionally delicious. It’s also not that vegan-friendly, since most traditional dishes are made with either animal fat, dairy products, or minced meat. Read on to learn more about the traditional food in Kosovo and see which dishes you must try if you’re ever in the area!
Pies are a staple Kosovan dish. They’re usually thin pastry layers filled with either minced meat, cheese, or greens. But there are many different versions of pies with the Borek and Filija being the most popular among locals.
Borek is a traditional dish from Turkish cuisine, and it’s made of filling pastry (yufka) with minced meat and rolling it in a concentric circle. It’s delicious, filling, and best enjoyed with a cold glass of yogurt.
Filija is perhaps the best-known traditional Kosovan dish. It’s a layered pie and the more layers it has, the better it tastes. To make the pastry layers, you’re supposed to make a thicker version of pancake batter and then bake it in the oven. Kaymak is generously spread on each of the layers, and the entire pie is then baked as a whole.
Kosovar people aren’t that big on salads. The only version of a salad that is common in Kosovo is turšija, which is so strong and filling that you won’t be able to eat anything else after a few bites. Turšija is made with pickled vegetables and it often includes pickles, cauliflower, peppers, and carrots.
Tarator/tartar salad is also popular in Kosovo. It’s made with garlic, yogurt, and cucumbers, and it’s usually more popular in the summer. Tarator salad is served cold and it goes extremely well with meat-based dishes.
Tavë Prizreni is the most authentically Kosovan dish you can try in the country. It literally translates to Plate of Prizren, which is the most historically important city in Kosovo. It’s a casserole made with lamb, eggplants, onions, green peppers, and tomatoes. It’s served hot, preferably just a few minutes after you take it out of the oven, and it’s absolutely delicious.
Pasulj/grah is another hearty dish that’s very popular in Kosovo. What’s traditional about it is that once your mom or grandma makes a pot of pasulj, you know what’s for lunch and dinner for the next few days. This is sort of a bean soup, usually made with white beans that are cooked in a very thick sauce. Smoked meat is often added to the pot to enhance the flavor, as well as garlic and bay leaves.
Tavë kosiis another casserole popular in Kosovo, but this one originated in Albania. It’s basically just chopped lamb and rice that are baked in a mixture of eggs, yogurt, and roux (flour and butter).
Sarma is another food that is considered a traditional dish in Kosovo, but it is also present in many other cuisines in the Balkans. Sarma is a dish that consists of minced meat, often with tomato sauce, wrapped into cabbage or vine leaves, depending on the season.
Right after Sarma, you should try stuffed peppers. They’re also popular all over the Balkans and even Kosovo couldn’t resist their charm. Peppers (usually green or yellow) are hollowed, stuffed with a mixture of minced meat and rice, or kefir and cottage cheese, then slowly cooked for several hours.
These stuffed peppers are best served hot with a side of kaymak or cream, with a generous piece of bread so that not a drop of the delicious saft (sauce) is left on the plate.
Baklava is the most popular dessert dish in Kosovo, just like in pretty much every other Balkan country. It’s traditional Turkish cuisine that consists of layers of filo pastry (pastry layers) that are stuffed with chopped nuts and then sweetened with agda (water and sugar), honey, or syrup.
It’s important to note that the Baklava has evolved everywhere in the Balkans, and nowadays you can try versions that are made with kaymak, Nutella, and many other delicious ingredients.
Havell or halva is another typical dish that Kosovar grandmas like to make. It’s originally from West Asia but their version is quite different from what they call halva in the Balkans. Halva is made with butter, flour, sugar, and water, and it’s very sweet filling, and greasy.
Cremeschnitte is a type of cream cake made with chantilly cream and custard. It’s usually served cold, with a generous layer of powdered sugar on top.
Rasol is perhaps the weirdest traditional drink anywhere. Kosovar (and other Balkan people) have a tradition of pickling cabbage in the winter. Very large barrels are used for this because the whole point is to have enough pickled cabbage to last the entire winter. Rasol is the juice leftover in the barrel once you take out all the (red) cabbage. You’ve been warned.
Kompot is a seasonal drink that can be served either hot or cold. It’s popular in Kosovo and the rest of the Balkans, where it’s usually consumed in the autumn and winter. Kompot is made by cooking fruit in a lot of water and sugar, and it is served with small chunks of cooked fruit.
Boza is a soft drink made with fermented grains, usually maize and wheat flour. It’s very popular in the summer because it’s extremely refreshing, but not everyone is going to like the taste. It’s one of those drinks that you either love or hate – there’s no in-between.
Rakia is a traditional drink in every Balkan country. It’s a fruit brandy with dangerously high alcohol content and it’s best consumed in shots. Don’t ever let someone trick you into making you a cocktail with rakia – you’ll pass out before you drink even half. Rakia can be made with pretty much any fruit out there, but it’s most commonly made with plums, cherries, or pears.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.