Like most of the time, I put the description at the bottom to be recipe user friendly.
The best combination plate I have made has the pita or lepinja (somun), ajvar, ćevapi, sliced raw onions, roasted or raw tomatoes, and cottage cheese.
- Red Bell Peppers
- Eggplant (traditional), zucchini (if you can’t find or stand eggplant)
- Lemon Juice
- Garlic, minced or roasted
- Salt and Olive Oil
- 1:1 ratio of each vegetable by weight, though more peppers if anything. Start by roasting the bell peppers and the other vegetable in the oven on 375 until charred and peelable (zucchini gets soft but does not peel easy). It helps to wrap the vegetables in a towel after roasting for easier peel.
- Deseed the vegetables and then depending on your preference: chop finely, food process everything, or blend. I like blending.
Ćevapi – as with all recipes there are different variations but here are the main components
- Ground meat: can use beef, pork, or lamb. Combine 2 or 3 if you choose.
- Garlic cloves, pre-roasted in olive oil
- Spicy Spice (I prefer berber, cayenne, etc.)
- No egg needed, though if used, go light so there is less liquid
Mix ingredients, done. Just kidding. Let flavors absorb in meat for at least 30 minutes. They taste great on the barbecue and is common to cook there, but I prefer to catch all of the delicious juices for later.
Cook in pan with hot olive oil on medium heat, and be sure to carefully rotate them until the outer layer is sturdy. I like to throw raw onion in the pan to get more flavor as well. Continue cooking meat until your liking.
For extra deliciousness, after the meat is out, deglaze the pan with balsamic vinagar and add some butter, then let the pita soak in the juices.
Pita Bread or Lepinja
- I don’t have a recipe or ideas on how to make them on my own, and I’m certainly no expert in breads, so my favorite one is from the NYT Cooking app. For breads, they have the best ratings and easy to follow, though I used a different website for these pictures below.
- One tip I have for pita bread is to make the dough stickier than most breads. The pita does not need pockets, but it is how it is traditionally served, though it is tricky to get the consistency right.
The ćevapi or ćevapčići is a Balkan tradition, though it developed from the Ottoman’s kebabs during their occupation. It is the national dish of Bosnia & Herzegovina but it is shared greatly in the region. Serbia and Croatia are famous for the ćevapi as well, along with the other former Yugoslav states.
Culture side note – You will find that there is a common bond between these countries but there are cultural differences. Religion is a big one, and you are welcome to dive deeper into the conflict that occurred in the region, with tensions still high.
Back to the meal, ajvar is the most common side dish to ćevapi, and goes along with the pita, or lepinja (somun) bread. The main difference with those two is the lepinja (also known as somun) is risen 3x and is more region specific than the pita, which is used in far more countries outside the Balkans.
Geography side note – The Balkans defined by Britanica: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia.
- These countries, though similar in geography, should not be grouped together as one country, just like you would not group Ireland and North Ireland, Sudan and South Sudan, or Israel and Palestine based on their geography alone.