“Is there a genuine Serbian dish?” people usually ask me “How about the Serbian Cuisine, what do you eat down there?”.
“We are in the Balkans” I answer “every time I cross the Slovenian border, I feel the breeze of Turkey. Travelling further south, the breeze turns into a wind of turkish flavours and delights. Not so long ago, the Ottoman Empire spread up to the Danube and fortified its northern borders with the Belgrade Fortress. No wonder the Serbian cuisine is an eclectic mash up of Austrian and Turkish.”
“Ok, ok, but do you have something particularly Serbian?” ask the impatient. That was too much history for a busy, plugged in, modern brain.
“Well. Everything I ever ate in Serbia, I discovered in many variations somewhere else. The only thing that never ever tasted like home was the “Serbischer Bohneneintopf” you eat in Germany!”
My friend Kristina, a multitalented scientists and artists and a great cook, claims that the only proven Serbian dish is Proja. I love Proja, especially with Ajvar and yogurt, but my grandma used to hate it: “I cannot stand proja, we ate it so much during the war, it reminds me of hard times! The only thing we had back then was corn flour”
Today in Serbia, a lush and flavourful variation of Proja, known as Projara is spread. It is a common dish on gatherings, weddings and slavas, domestic patron saint celebrations.
Kristina´s Projara Recipe:
*a cup is about 250ml in volume (big tea cup).
– 2 cups of white flour
– 1 cup corn flour (polenta) and
– 1 baking powder
– mix 3 eggs
– 1 cup oil
– 1 cup milk
– 1 small spoon of salt
Combine two bowls and stir gently. While stirring add sparkling water until the mixture is neither too dense, nor too runny.
Leave it plain or stir in fresh cheese (quark, feta, any fresh cow cheese). You can add fresh or pickled vegetables, usually cornichons, pepper or pepper bell, but also bacon, ham and/or salami.
Preheat oven at 250°C
Leave a greased baking pan in the heated oven until oil turns hot, then take the pan out and poor in the dough.
Decrease temperature immediately to 200°C and bake 30min or until golden.
We usually eat Projara when still worm, with yogurt, but it can be served cold as a side dish.