Yugoslav food is filling, with emphasis on meat, potatoes and dairy products. Cuisine varies regionally, showing the influence of ethnic groups and local crops. In the north, Hungarian dishes like goulash are popular, while the Turks left Yugoslavs with a taste for shish kebabs. Lighter Mediterranean fare, such as seafood dishes, is more common along the Adriatic.

Most Yugoslavs begin work between 6 and 8 a.m., so breakfast is an early though hearty meal. People enjoy a drink such as tea, milk or strong coffee, which is very popular and served Turkish style in small, individual pots. Pastries or bread are served with butter, jam, yoghurt, sour cream and cheese, accompanied by bacon, sausages, salami, scrambled eggs and kajmak, which is a cross between sour cream and cottage cheese. Balkan burek is a layered breakfast pie made of cheese or meat, while krompirusa is a version made with potatoes.

Yugoslavs' main meal is lunch, usually eaten with the family after work between 2 and 4 p.m. Homemade soup is a frequent starter, followed by a meat or fish course. Yugoslavs enjoy grilled meat, which usually features in entrées. Typical dishes are cevapcici, which is kebabs of spiced, minced beef; mesano meso, a mixed grill of pork cutlet, liver sausage and minced meat patties with onions; and duvec, grilled pork cutlets baked with spiced stewed peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and rice.

Other popular main dishes are sarma, sauerkraut cabbage rolls stuffed with ground beef and pork, and musaka, a layered eggplant and potato dish containing minced meat. Salads are typically simple, consisting of peppers, onions and tomatoes seasoned with oil and vinegar. Desserts may include fresh local fruit or sweet pastries. Supper, a lighter meal eaten later in the evening, often consists of dishes similar to those consumed at breakfast.

Yugoslavs enjoy drinking wine with their meals and have many local varieties to choose from. Other popular alcoholic drinks include many varieties of beer and brandies. Slivovica is mild brandy made from blue plums.

  Prebranac (Baked Beans)

500g white, medium-to-large beans
500g onions, chopped
vegetable oil for frying
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 bay leaves
salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste


In a large pot, cover the beans in water and bring to a boil. When the water boils, remove the pot from heat and drain. Add fresh water to the beans, and bring to a boil again. When the beans are somewhat tender, but not fully cooked (at least 30 minutes), remove from heat and drain off the water, keeping it aside.

While the beans are cooking, sauté the chopped onions in a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil. When the onions are translucent and tender, add the garlic, bay leaves, salt and peppers. Mix well for a minute more, than remove from heat.
Spread the onions evenly on the bottom of a deep baking dish. Add the beans on top, then enough reserved water to moisten the mixture so the beans can cook. Bake at 180°C (350°F) until beans are fully cooked, about 30 minutes.

  Did you know?
On certain holy days, Yugoslavs often forgo meat and eat fish.

  Did you know?
An ancient Yugoslavian dish is pasulj, which consists of beans cooked with vegetables and sometimes ribs.