How to Eat Like a Montenegrin

Montenegrin cuisine offers as much diversity as the nature. Foods vary from the coast to the central part of the country to the mountains. Also, the foods served and the preparation process in the restaurants is distinctly different from the village foods. The country has a lot of national dishes, though not all are entirely of Montenegrin origin. You can come across Italian, Turkish and Greek cuisine, as well as familiar items like hamburgers. Regardless of where the influence comes, you can expect fresh, organic, local source foods in many places across the country.

Even though there are a variety of dishes sold, Montenegrin restaurants show their national pride in both their food and the feel of an ancient dwelling place in Montenegro. The restaurants are often made with stones and a hanging rack for drying their meat. For cooking and baking bread, most Montenegrin restaurants use sac – the large metal lid in the form of a shallow bell, which is covered with ash and hot coals. The meat is juicy and the vegetables have an amazing meaty flavor. To experience this local style of roasting, look for “izpod saca” on the menu (under the dome).

Montenegrin Coastal Foods

Being close to the sea, Montenegro has a lot of fish and seafood dishes. Even the people who don’t like fish dishes should try the fish salad or goulash, which are cooked from the freshest seafood and emit an aroma of Montenegrin seasonings and spices. They serve polenta (made from corn flour), blitva (chards) or boiled potatoes with fish dishes.

Drying fish is a traditional practice for Montenegro. The fish is scaled, gilled and laid out under the scorching sun. The fish is daily dipped in sea water. When the drying process is completed, it is smoked over a fire and placed into paper bags. This delicacy is boiled in the winter and served with vegetables.

Coastal Montenegrin cuisine includes fresh catch options

Food in Central Montenegro

Meat is just as popular as fish in Montenegro and becomes the more common choice when you venture inland. Mutton, pork, beef and poultry are used for cooking a variety of dishes. Meat is often prepared with kajmak (kai-mak). Kajmak is prepared by pouring sheep’s milk into a flat bowl and then putting it into a warm oven for 3 hours . After the oven the milk is cooled. The upper layer is carefully removed and shifted to another bowl and salt is added. This cheesy cream is especially good for the braise of mutton and chicken, making it very juicy and tender.

Let’s not forget the vegetables! Local salads are made with coarsely chopped vegetables dressed with olive oil and sprinkled with vinegar. Simple, but absolutely amazing! By the way, olive oil is an essential ingredient of the seafood cuisine especially along the coast because of the olive trees found along the coastline.

Sweets are usually served on their own with coffee. The delicious palačinke are a large pancake filled with jam, chocolate or cream. In Montenegro, baklava often has raisins and finely chopped walnuts. The Montenegrin’s version of a doughnut is called krofne, served with jam or chocolate in the middle. Another thing worth trying if done right is the krempita. This cream layered cake is popular in regions of the Balkans. You can also find fruit cocktail and hot chocolate at any cafe.

Plan a farm stay in Montenegro to experience the food, culture, and adventure.

Eating Like a Montenegrin Requires a Trip to the Village

Every region has their own specialties and types of foods. While Montenegrins are very proud of their culinary offerings, most locals will inquire if you have ever had a chance to eat in the village. In the village you can experience the real goodness of Montenegro. This is where the food goes farm to table measured in single digit meters. The vegetables have more color, the foods more flavor, the servings definitely get bigger and they are usually served family style. Locals celebrate this as the foundation and best of Montenegrin cuisine.

Village Staples Include Prosciutto and Cheeses

One popular village item is prosciutto or pršut in the local language. Some call prosciutto the national meat. It’s believed that the best prosciutto is made in Njeguši, near Cetinje. The pork is dried in the mountains, where the air is fresh. The local name for prosciutto is pršut. In the same area, a tender homemade cheese is also made. The Montenegrin cuisine also has a special way of cooking chicken, where the salted meat is placed into the cavity of a lamb and roasted on a turnspit. When the meat is ready, the chicken is roasted and has an exceptional flavor.

Other regions have dried meats and cheeses that have distinct flavor and character. One of the most popular cheeses comes from the Bjelasica area and is often referred to as Kolasin cheese (Kolašinski sir). Villagers use one of the large rocks from the region to press their cheese. This layered, white cheese is served in large quantities in the villages in that area. It also becomes a key part of other local dishes.

Kolasin cheese - known throughout Montenegro

Montenegrin Cuisine Originals

While in the village, be sure to try the kaćamak. There are different variations of this hearty dish, but it usually involves boiled potatoes, cornmeal, kajmak (clotted cream), and lisnati (layered) cheese. Once the key ingredients are ready, family members will take turns mixing and pounding it with a large wooden mixing pestle.

Priganice are fritters or flat donuts served with honey, cheese or jam. These are often served in the village before or after a meal, and can be part of welcoming someone as a guest. Served piping hot, these make a mountain visit in the fall or winter months unforgettable. While we find these are best in homes with mountain vistas, you can try these in restaurants throughout the country.

Plan a farm stay in Montenegro to experience the food, culture, and adventure.

Prijatno!

Slow Food Montenegro

(This post was updated in April 2017 by Meanderbug staff.)

4 comments

  1. Great post Jennifer. Honestly, I began to feel hungry while reading and viewing the pictures. So much good food and culture here.

  2. Zenobia

    What a wonderful adventure of delicious food! Enjoy!

    1. Hope one day you can come and visit to experience your self. 🙂

  3. montenegro90

    Good article! 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.