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Street Food Friday: Pepper Paste Made by Macedonian Moms

August 1, 2014 at 6:03 PM | by | ()

This is a big year for Macedonia, whose controversial government-run Skopje 2014 project is attempting to create a tourism boom. We're still waiting for the results to come in terms of the number of visitors, but for those of you who aren't familiar with the country, we'll take a walk through the highlights next week. As an appetizer, let's have a look at some of the local culinary offerings in today's edition of Street Food Friday. Meat and seafood are the big main plates, yet it is the traditional side dishes that make the cuisine unique.


Ajvar is a pepper paste used as a spread for bread, often combined with white cheese. You'll obviously find it in restaurants, but this is the equivalent of an Italian family's recipe for pasta sauce (gravy). Macedonians all have their own spin and take on how it tastes best, resulting in lunchroom debates over whose mom makes the best.

Tavche Gravche

It looks like American baked beans, and that's pretty much how Tavche Gravche translates: Beans in a skillet. Before being boiled, the beans (usually white) are soaked in water for a few hours to soften. They are then seasoned with garlic and chili powder and combined with oil and diced vegetables (peppers, onions) in earthenware. It is then baked in the oven.

Shopska Salad

The Shopska salad (originally from Bulgaria and not to be confused with Skopsko beer) was one of our favorite dishes, very light and fresh because of the veggies yet also satisfying thanks to the salt of the white cheese. It’s essentially a simple salad made from tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and peppers. An olive is usually placed on top as a garnish, and different recipes call for different amounts of cheese. Some use cubes, but in this case, shredded cheese is loaded on top.

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