Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 22 - Bosnia and Herzegovina! Čevapčići - Up Next, Botswana

Ćevapi (Čevapčići): rolled spiced meat patties, shaped somewhat like a cigar and served with somun (thin pita-bread), onions, and yogurt. Considered to be the national meal of Bosnia.
 Way too hot to cook inside...good thing I just happen to have this handy cooking pit!

I've been thinking about how women all over the world are charged with feeding their families in times of extreme economic hardship, war, drought, floods, disease and any number of natural and man made catastrophes, the likes of which I have never  known. Through this project, I feel a growing, deep respect and appreciation for what it must take to put food on the table in countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina given it's very recent history of war and genocide. 

Although I've never known the ravages of war or disaster, I grew up watching my single Mom make meals for my bother, sister and me with very, very little. Although there were times when peanut butter and jelly was dinner and seconds on meat just wasn't going to happen, she somehow managed to bring us all together at the table every night with a home cooked meal that fed both our bellies and our souls. So while I don't pretend to know what women and their families in these foreign lands experience in reality, I do imagine that a mother's drive to care for and feed her children is fierce and universal and knows no ethnic or religious boundaries.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo)(EU): It's hard to know how to write about this country because it's history, both ancient and present, is so complex. Anything simplified risks sounding, well, simplistic. Conversely, the amount of time it would take to accurately capture both the beauty and the devastation this country has withstood would disinterest all but the most avid historian....

So here's just a little history and a link for those who wish to know more: Bosnia and Herzegovina make up a triangular-shaped republic, about half the size of Kentucky, on the Balkan peninsula. The Bosnian region in the north is mountainous and covered with thick forests. The Herzegovina region in the south is largely rugged, flat farmland. It has a narrow coastline without natural harbors stretching 13 mi (20 km) along the Adriatic Sea.

The three main ethnic groups in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina are Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats, and languages are Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian (formerly "Serbo-Croatian"). Nationalities are Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim), Bosnian Serb, and Bosnian Croat. Religions include Islam, Serbian Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Judaism, some Protestant sects, and some others. Here's a link that covers Bosnia and Herzegovina's history up to present day quite thoroughly:

The Meal
I decided to make Ćevapi (Čevapčići), a traditional meat patty, shaped somewhat like a cigar, grilled and served with a wonderful cucumber-yogurt sauce in pita bread.  The recipe I used called for pork, but I came across conflicting information about whether or not pork is eaten in this predominantly Muslim country, so I decided to err on the side of caution and omit the pork altogether. I just doubled up on the lamb instead.

Ground lamb, veal, grated onions, garlic and lots of Hungarian paprika are combined (as you would meatloaf)

Roll and shape meat into cigar shapes - then put in fridge for about an hour to firm up....

 Grate cucumber- I used an English cucumber because it doesn't have to be peeled so lends a beautiful green color to the otherwise white yogurt sauce

Set grated cucumber over sieve to drain for one hour

Combine plain yogurt, fresh lemon juice, garlic, caynne and cucumbers to make sauce

Grill meat over nice hot fire - I used a combination of wood and charcoal-no lighter fluid!

Grill pita bread for a few seconds on each side

Two thumbs up from Tim and his best friend, Mac. who has decided to join us as we cook our way around the world this summer - I just love that boy!

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tbsp hot Hungarian paprika, or sweet paprika and a little cayenne
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmet
  • olive oil for basting

 Yogurt sauce

  • 1 pint yogurt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, grated and drained 1 hour
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • salt and ground pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper


  1. Mix all the ingredients, except the oil, thoroughly and roll the mixture into little "cigars" about 1 inch by 3 inches.
  2. Rub lightly with olive oil and grill or broil until done.

 Yogurt sauce

  1. Mix together all the ingredients and serve with Pita bread
Final Assessment: Delicious, easy to make and fun to eat. The cucumber yogurt sauce was cool and clean tasting and complimented the grilled meat beautifully.

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