A huge part of Montenegrin’s everyday life is quality meals and fine dining. Therefore, it is no surprise that they take their food culture very seriously. This makes Montenegro a true paradise for foodies and adventurers who love to experience truly traditional, homemade food.
Most of Montenegrin’s traditional dishes rely on domestic products, whether meat and vegetables or seafood on the coast. As the country is full of delights, anyone visiting this Adriatic gem must be prepared for insane amounts of food.
However, today we will focus on one of the essential parts of a traditional Montenegrin breakfast – priganice. It is a culinary delight deeply rooted in the upbringing of Montenegrins. This sentimental value makes priganice a very important part of childhood memories and a great way for tourists and expats to grasp a part of Montenegrin culinary heritage.
The Culinary Landscape of Montenegro
Montenegro is located in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. An amazing location and a very versatile terrain made sure that Montenegrin’s culinary tradition was influenced by both the Mediterranean Sea and the Dinaric Mountain system. An important influence on the country’s cuisine is also the Slavic heritage of the Montenegrin people.
The food landscape naturally changes as you visit different regions of the country. Thus, in the coastal area, seafood dominates. At the same time, in the mountain region, the country offers diverse flavors based on meat (pork, beef, and lamb) and a variety of fresh vegetables.
Using fresh, locally produced ingredients is a big part of the food heritage of the country, which adds a special charm to any dish you try. Many restaurants try to preserve the authentic and local character of the recipes. So it is not hard to find a dish that a typical Montenegrin grandma would make.
Keeping in mind all this, it is difficult to mention only a few traditional dishes that one should taste when visiting Montenegro. However nothing will introduce their hospitality as priganice.
Priganice: A Symbol of Montenegrin Tradition
Priganice is not just a simple breakfast dish but a symbol of Montenegrin tradition. It represents a great part of the family- and friend-oriented upbringing, and it is a great part of the warmth that Montenegrin hospitality exhibits.
Many locals would tell you that they eat priganice to evoke memories and flavor of childhood. As for the travelers and tourists, tasting priganice for the first time will introduce them to Montenegro’s soul.
The History of Priganice
Priganice are fluffy, fried dough balls that are often served with honey, cheese, or jam. The name “Priganice” originates from the actual process of making the dish. It connects the words “pržiti,” meaning “to fry,” reflecting its cooking method.
As we mentioned, priganice are deeply rooted in Montenegrin culture. Generations have nurtured the tradition of having priganice for breakfast. This delight is also made for big religious holidays and is an essential part of the fasting process.
It is not known precisely when and how the recipe for priganice was crafted. It is believed that they are a result of Montenegrin women’s creativity in providing their families with something delicious from scarce resources. This is a result of the historically very difficult economic situation in Montenegro, where many people were extremely poor and without basic resources.
Despite its sad origin, priganice become a symbol of well-known Montenegrin hospitality as people have a tendency for shareing as much as they have. Thus, it is common that upon arrival in many households, establishments, or formal events where tradition dominates, you find priganice being served on the greeting plate.
How to make priganice at home
Making priganice is a simple and even fun process. If you love spending time in the kitchen and indulging yourself with some delicious and fast delight, then make sure you do priganice. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 400 g flour
- 40g yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 dl water
- oil for frying
The process starts once you put one tablespoon of yeast in warm (not boiling!) water with a teaspoon of sugar. Leave the yeast to react, and once it has risen, combine the mixture with flour and salt. One small trick grandmas used to do in Montenegro was to put a teaspoon of rakija in the dough so it collected less oil in the frying process.
In the mixing process, we recommend you use your hands. In this way, you will get a better texture of the dough, which should be sticky and stretchy. Once you are happy with the consistency of the dough, you should let it sit for at least 20 minutes before frying.
You should fry priganice in a deeper pot in heated oil until they are golden brown. Be generous with the oil, as the priganice will come out better. Before you start separating the dough, stir it one more time for better shaping of the balls. You can use a tablespoon to measure small amounts of dough and form balls that you put into the hot oil.
You can serve them with both salty and sweet toppings. The traditional choices for salty options are cheese and cheese spreads such as kajmak often combined with prosciutto on the side. The sweet versions include eating priganice with honey and jam. Kids would also love priganice with Nutella or a Montenegrin version of chocolate spread called Eurokrem.
One last tip is to make sure you have fun and put love into the process of preparing priganice. This will make them ten times more delicious!
Priganice holds a special place in Montenegrin culture as they reflect the tradition, culinary heritage, and impeccable hospitality Montenegrins are so proud of. Thus, whether you got a chance to eat priganice in a Montenegrin home or dared to make them in your kitchen, nothing will tell you a story of a Montenegrin spirit and soul better than this breakfast delight.
Make sure to share this incredible meal with your loved ones and make memories that will last forever. Do not forget that when you eat priganice, you’re not just enjoying a delicious meal but you also get to know Montenegro’s soul.