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Dec 20 2013

Burek in the Balkans

I was wondering what to post for today’s Foto Friday and then I came across a photograph of something I ate a lot of while I was in the Balkans.

I had never heard of it until the night I arrived in Zagreb.  It was late and I needed something to eat.  I was surprised but glad to find a bakery open after 9pm, near where I was staying.  It’s actually not that unusual.  They seem to stay open quite late, at the weekend at least.  I was looking at all they had to offer and asked for something that didn’t have meat.  I was given my first cheese burek.  After that introduction, I had burek on a fairly regular basis while I was in the Balkans.

Burek, in case you’re wondering, is a savoury dish that originates from the Ottoman period.  It’s filo pastry filled with cheese, minced meat, or vegetables and is either baked or fried.  The fried version probably isn’t the healthiest dish but it’s perfect if you need a quick, cheap snack while you are on the go.  I even had it for breakfast on the odd occasion.  It is widely available in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro in bakeries and in some bars.

Burek comes in different shapes.  Apart from the one in the photograph, you can get burek that are rolled round in a spiral shape.

I didn’t have a problem getting meat-free burek because so many places sell it.  Just so you know, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, if you ask for burek, you are likely to get one filled with meat.  If you want one without meat, you can ask for sirnica, which is filled with cheese; zeljanica, which has spinach and cheese; krompirisu for potatoes; or tikvenica for courgettes.  But if you forget or can’t pronounce them, just ask for one with cheese or vegetables, or for one without meat.


I’ve located Ljublijana on the map, which is where the photo was taken.

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Have you tried burek?  If so, which ones did you try and what did you think of them?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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