So you want to know more about Montenegrin food. Let me just say it’s very hard to start off the article with only one pic. Montenegrin cuisine ranges so wide, it’s impossible to sum it up in one style. Here, I will make sure to include all the traditional Montenegrin food and some that is a result of fusion.
In Montenegro, a meal without a glass of local wine is like a sentence without punctuation – it just doesn’t feel quite right. Indeed, there’s a longstanding tradition here of following every plate of food with a good glass of Montenegrin wine. It’s an ‘unconscious’ law that the locals take seriously, and if you want to fully embrace the Montenegrin way of life, you would do well to follow suit. So go ahead, indulge in the rich, fruity flavors of this fine wine and savor every sip – it’s all part of the experience!
To give you an authentic experience, we will frame everything in the context of a typical Montenegrin home visit. That means you won’t just see this food in local restaurants – every household will offer it to you.
Meza – a meal before the meal
Although the closest translation would be ‘appetizer’, which is something you eat before the main meal, Montenegrins don’t use the word ‘appetizer’. We use the word ‘meza’ (MEH – ZAH). It means ‘something you quickly eat’. We view it as a warm-up for the tummy.
One of the most delightful things about meza – the traditional Montenegrin starter – is that it’s not just a prelude to the meal, but an integral part of the dining experience itself. Unlike a classical appetizer, which is typically cleared away before the main course arrives, meza remains on the table throughout the entire meal. In fact, it’s not uncommon for guests to return to the meza platter between courses, using it as a refreshing palate cleanser or a light snack to tide them over until the next dish arrives. So if you find yourself at a Montenegrin dinner party and the meza platter is still on the table when the main course is served, don’t be surprised – it’s all part of the convivial, unhurried dining style that makes Montenegrin cuisine so unique.
The classical meza consists of:
Every Montenegrin household’s fridge has at least 500gr (1.1lbs) of this delicates. If you are ever in Montenegro, just ask for ‘prshuta’ and you will become a favorite guest. What makes it traditional is the fact that Montenegrins rarely buy processed prosciutto, and instead make their own.
The art of making prshuta – Montenegro’s beloved dried ham – is a time-honored tradition that requires patience, skill, and a bit of luck. Throughout the year, Montenegrin households will dry and salt their hams in the attic, taking great care to ensure that each one reaches the perfect level of flavor and tenderness. Of course, not every household has the opportunity to make their own prshuta, but fear not – there are plenty of locals who take pride in selling their homemade delicacies to eager customers. So if you’re in the market for some top-quality prshuta, simply seek out one of these skilled purveyors and prepare to indulge in one of Montenegro’s most treasured culinary treasures.
Next on the list for an average meza is cheese. Not grated, nor processed, but real home-made cheese served in large chunks.
My grandma has cows and makes a couple of pounds of cheese every week. It is divided into old (‘stari’ ; STAH-REE) and young (‘mladi’ ; MLAH-DEE) cheese (‘sir’ ; SEER). The main difference is that the ‘old cheese’ has a much stronger taste and is mostly preferred by many.
The most famous cheese in all of Montenegro is the ‘Pljevaljski’ sir. Pljevlja is a town on the North of the country, and is very renowned for producing the best cheese in Montenegro.
For a truly authentic Montenegrin dining experience, there’s no better way to impress your hosts than by asking for stari sir – the country’s beloved aged cheese. Whether you’re dining at a local restaurant or in the home of a gracious host, simply inquire about this prized delicacy and watch as your efforts are met with genuine admiration. In fact, it’s not uncommon for guests who express an interest in stari sir to be treated to an extra helping – a testament to the warm hospitality that Montenegrins are known for. So go ahead, take a chance and ask for a taste of this delicious cheese – you might just be rewarded with a culinary adventure you won’t soon forget!
There are many other side things that could be included in a plate of Meza, but these two are basic ones. Now let’s get onto something more specific!
Priganice – most famous food in Montenegro
Please remember this: THIS is the most famous food in all of Montenegro, and there is not a single Montenegrin person that doesn’t eat these at least once a week.
Now, let’s move on to one of Montenegro’s most beloved breakfast treats: Priganice. Pronounced PREEH-GAH-NEETZ-EH, these light, fluffy doughnuts are a staple of Montenegrin cuisine and are typically enjoyed with honey and sugar. Of course, everyone has their own unique tastes, and as the black sheep of my family, I’ve been known to enjoy my priganice with a side of ketchup and mayo. Fortunately, making these delightful treats at home is a breeze, and I often whip up a batch whenever the mood strikes. So why not give them a try for yourself? With their irresistible blend of sweet and savory flavors, priganice are sure to become a fast favorite in your household as well.
If you’re looking to make enough priganice to serve four people, start by mixing 400 grams (or 13 ounces) of regular flour with three eggs in a bowl. In a separate pot, combine 150 milliliters of milk and 150 milliliters of water, and heat the mixture for about four minutes. Once it’s ready, add the milk and water mixture to the bowl with the flour and eggs, and use a mixer to combine everything into a thick dough. The consistency should be runny, but not too watery – to test it, use a spoon to see if the dough spreads out without spilling right out of the spoon. With this simple recipe, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the delectable taste and texture of Montenegro’s beloved priganice.
To prepare your own batch of priganice, start by spooning dollops of dough into a pan filled halfway with hot oil. As the dough sizzles and bubbles, you’ll want to turn the priganice every 2-3 minutes to ensure they cook evenly on both sides. When they reach a rich, golden-yellow hue, it’s time to remove them from the pan and get ready to indulge in their delectable goodness. Of course, if you find that the oil is splattering too much, you can always reduce the temperature of the hot plate by one notch to prevent any mishaps. And when it comes to serving, there are a variety of delicious accompaniments to choose from – whether you prefer your priganice drizzled with honey, spread with jam, or dusted with sugar, there’s no wrong way to enjoy this beloved Montenegrin breakfast staple.
Make sure to let me know how it turns out!
Cevapi – a must for a barbeque!
If you are planning on attending a Montenegrin barbeque, be ready for cevapi (CHE-VAH-PEEH). These are the soul and essence of every social gathering in Montenegro.
While making Montenegro’s beloved cevapi may seem daunting at first, fear not – with a little practice, anyone can whip up a batch of these mouth-watering sausage-like treats. And despite their resemblance to traditional sausages, cevapi have a distinct taste and aroma that sets them apart from any other dish. Whether you prefer to savor them one by one or stuff them into a lepinja and devour them all at once (as I am wont to do), one thing is for sure – cevapi are a true Montenegrin delight that simply must be experienced to be fully appreciated. So why not give them a try and see what all the fuss is about? With their hearty, savory flavor and satisfying texture, you’re sure to fall in love with this cherished Montenegrin dish in no time.
A lepinja (LEH-PEEH-NIA) is what you can see in the picture above. It is a round or oval-shaped flatbread with a soft and fluffy interior and a slightly crispy crust.
Onions and kajmak (a creamy, rich, and slightly tangy dairy product that is similar to clotted cream or crème fraîche) are a necessity that go along with cevapi.
We are certain you won’t have trouble finding these wherever you visit in Montenegro.
Here is something that is not inherently Montenegrin.
Black risotto, also known as Crni Rizoto (TZR-NEE REEZ-OTTO) in Montenegrin, is a popular seafood dish that can you can find in many restaurants in Montenegrin coastal towns, such as Kotor, Tivat, Herceg Novi, or Budva. The dish gets its dark color from the ink of squid or cuttlefish, which is mixed with the rice during the cooking process.
Black risotto is usually made with white wine, onions, and garlic. The main ingredients, however, are squid, mussels, shrimp, and clams. A good chef cooks everything together in order to blend the flavors
As a main course, it is typically served with a fresh salad or expertly grilled vegetables, offering a perfectly balanced meal that is both satisfying and flavorful. This delectable seafood delicacy is truly one-of-a-kind and should be at the top of your must-try list when visiting Montenegro. And if you happen to be a seafood aficionado, then grilled squid is sure to be a hitDon’t miss the chance to savor the unique flavor and texture of this beloved Montenegrin dish – your taste buds will thank you.
Honorable mentions – Montenegrin food you should try
This could really go on forever. That’s why it’s best to mention other famous food you will come across in Montenegro.
Firstly, kacamak (KAH-CHA-MACK) is the oldest, most traditional Montenegrin food. We have already written about it, so make sure to read about this delicious, mostly homemade meal here.
Italian food (pizza, calzone, pasta, etc.) plays a major role in Montenegrin cuisine. They are neighboring countries sea-wise, and Italy has had a lot of influence on Montenegro throughout history. You will find a wide range of Italian food wherever you go.
Turkish food, such as pies, baklava, burek, and all sort of other traditional Turkish meals are available in Montenegro. Every local bakery sells burek as one of their main foods.
Spicy food, that comes from Eastern and South parts of Serbia (neighboring country) can also be seen in the majority of restaurants throughout Montenegro.
Whatever origin your food taste derives from, I guarantee you will fulfill it for the time you spend in Montenegro. There is no better feeling than having the food you love following you wherever you go!