National cuisine of Montenegro deserves not only articles, but also whole books! Its dishes are original, tasty and nourishing.
Anyone who has been to Montenegro at least once usually mentions local cuisine in their stories — large portions, fresh products and Montenegrin hospitality. The most popular Montenegrin dishes are cooked based on two culinary traditions — Balkan and Mediterranean.
Montenegrin national dishes always contain a lot of meat, olive oil and vegetables. Each dish is necessarily served with fresh or stewed vegetables, homemade bread or pellets. The portions here are huge and you should not be afraid of staying hungry after lunch!
The real Montenegrin cuisine can be tasted in “konobas” ─ small restaurants with fresh produce grown locally. Most of these restaurants are located in the central and northern parts of the country.
- Njeguški steak. This dish has been cooked in the village of Njeguši, and then it was included in the menu of many restaurants across the country. Ideally, it is veal or beef stuffed with cheese or kaymak (also a local dish, something between fatty sour cream and soft cheese) and necessarily Njeguški prosciutto. Served with signature sauce.
- Meat “from under the sač” — a dish that is definitely worth tasting. “Under the sač” is a way to cook meat with vegetables in dishes similar to cauldron with a ceramic lid called “sač”, which is covered in coals. This way you can cook any type of meat, but the most exquisite is considered to be lamb. Beef, pork or even goat meat are often used as well.
- Karađorđe’s schnitzel — pork or veal roll stuffed with cheese and ham, fried in breading. Served with lemon slices and tar-tar sauce. The dish resembles a Chicken Kiev and has an interesting history of creation. The Yugoslavian chef wanted to cook Chicken Kiev, but instead of chicken fillet, he used veal. In the end, he watered the dish with sauce and decorated it with lemon. Schnitzel turned out to be similar to the Serbian Order of Karađorđe’s Star. This is where the name of the dish comes from. It is included in the menu of many restaurants in Montenegro.
- Pljeskavica — one of the most popular dishes among the Balkans — is very common in Montenegro. It can be cooked both at a restaurant and in fast-food tents. The quality of the last does not suffer in any way. Pljeskavica is a big round cutlet made of chopped meat. Most often, it is a mixture of pork and beef. The secret of a puffy Pljeskavica is a marinade of mineral water and aging the dish for at least 24 hours. Such a cutlet must be grilled — it turns out to be puffy and juicy. The serving can be different — with vegetables in a flatbread, with French fries, salad or sauce on a plate. There are also gourmet Pljeskavicas with prosciutto or cheese and stuffed ones — with mushrooms.
- Ćevapi or ćevapčići are thin sausages reminiscent of kebabs made of minced meat with onions and spices. The composition can vary depending on the recipe used to make them. It can be a mixture of beef and lamb, or it can be pork and beef. They are served with onions and wheat flour flatbread. Sometimes sour milk (kiselo mlijeko) is added to this set.
The list of meat dishes does not end there — steaks, pork and beef loin, chicken fillets are cooked in different ways. In Montenegro, there is a real cult of meat; everyone will definitely find something for themselves.
Chorba is a traditional thick soup. The most common types are veal (teleća) and fish (riblja) chorba. Veal chorba is made of potatoes, carrots, sometimes other vegetables and chunks of meat. Fish chorba is prepared using several types of fresh fish, often with tomato sauce.
Snacks and salads
Shopska salad is on the menu of almost all restaurants and cafes — it consists of finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and onions. It is covered with grated homemade cheese (reminiscent of the taste and consistency of feta).
Fish and seafood
- Grilled or stuffed squids. This dish is common in all seaside towns. Usually served with a specific side dish of boiled potatoes with chard (dalmatinsko varivo) and a sauce of olive oil and garlic, but you can always ask for something more familiar when ordering.
- Mussels in buzara sauce. It is prepared with wine, garlic, onions, parsley and olive oil. There are many variations; different chefs add their secret ingredient to the sauce.
- Grilled sea fish. Most often, it is gilt-head bream (orada) or European bass (brancin) — nothing extra: fresh fish is grilled and served with lemon and olive oil with garlic or vegetables.
- Fried river fish — most often carps and eels are cooked in restaurants on Lake Skadar.
- On the coast, especially in the Bay of Kotor, it is worth trying a local special meal – bokeljski brodet — fish stewed with wine, spices and vegetables. Brodet is on the menu of the Stari Mlini restaurant in Ljuta. You should also ask waiters about it at the fish restaurants on the coast.
The bay restaurants also offer a wide range of seafood — mussels, oysters, octopuses, squids.
- Tulumba is a very popular dessert in Montenegro. It came to the Balkans from the Ottoman Empire and settled here. It is a bunch of baked small pieces of fresh dough soaked in sweet syrup or honey. It is sold both in confectionery stores and in regular shops.
- Priganice is a little doughnut made of yeast dough and cooked in deep fryer. They are usually served with honey, cheese and kaymak. In Montenegro, it is believed that priganice is best suited for breakfast.
- Pita is the general name for salty and sweet dishes made of thin puff dough. Cherry, apple, raisin or poppy stuffing is made for desserts.
- Separate but very popular dessert is cremeschnitte. A puff pastry cake with custard. It resembles a Napoleon cake, but has fewer layers and more cream. There are many variations of cremeschnitte based on different ingredients. It is better to try it in different pastry shops — you will feel the difference.
- Perast cake deserves special attention — peraška torta is an almond sponge cake, the recipe of which is passed on from generation to generation by Perast mistresses. You can try it in Kotor at the Forza Cafe (Old Town, Trg od Oružja) or in the Conte restaurant in Perast.
- Pancakes (Palatschinke) are available in every cafe or just sold at fast food spots. The stuffing is special — it can be sweet with European cream (Balkan version of Nutella chocolate paste), ground biscuits, fruits, cream, jam, nut and raisins or salty — stuffed with ham, cheese, and mushrooms or even baked with everything mentioned above in breading.
- Njeguški pršut is a dry-cured ham. In Montenegro it is declared one of the symbols and protected trademarks of the country. It was named after the village of Njeguši in Lovćen, where the royal dynasty of Montenegrin rulers Petrović-Njegoš comes from. The ham is first salted, then dried and smoked. Pršut is used both as a separate dish and as an ingredient for meat dishes, salads, pizza and stuffing for pies. It is also one of the most frequently bought souvenirs by tourists.
- In the north of the country, for example, in Kolašin, in the restaurant “Savardak” (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nacionalni-Restoran-Savardak-Kolašin-Montenegro/517807018229778) it is worth trying Kačamak — it is not served on the coast. It is a hot meal of potatoes, homemade cheese, kaymak and flour.
- In Bar and Ulcinj when ordering dishes you should ask for olive oil and homemade olives. There are many recipes for their preparation.
- In each area there are many kinds of cheeses: hard, soft, spicy, leafy and other types. Cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk are being used for production. Sour milk is also common, as well as whey and other sour milk products. Therefore, in different regions you can order meze — a set of cold snacks. It includes prosciutto and other meat delicacies, local olives, kaymak, and various cheeses. Everything that Montenegro is famous for, on one dish.