A cobbled street in Macedonia, featuring a jewellers

Cook like a local: Macedonia

Explore the robust flavours and honest, rustic cooking of this historic Southeast European crossroads

Want to learn about Macedonian food? Looking for Macedonian recipes? Read Katerina Nitsous’ guide.

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Recipes adapted from Macedonia – The Cookbook by Katerina Nitsou by Katerina Nitsou (£20, Kitchen Press).


Macedonian cuisine

Macedonia is an ancient country, with history dating well before the kingdom of Alexander the Great. With Serbia and Kosovo to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south and Albania to the west, it’s a great place to explore. Although a small country, Macedonians have a lot of spirit. Their food remains rustic and unassuming. With fresh salads and soups in spring and summer, and stews and braises in autumn and winter, the diversity is endless.

Baked goods such as breads and cakes are beloved, as well as street food like pastrmajlija – Macedonian pizza, a popular late-night meal after a night of dancing.

Fruit, veg and herbs are bountiful and robust. Macedonia is known for grapes, which make award-winning wines that are beginning to receive global acclaim. Macedonia’s wine history can be traced to around 1300 BC, about 700 years before grapevines were first cultivated in France. Rakija is another fruit spirit, typically made with white grapes and anise.

Peppers are a popular ingredient, with many varieties – most notably, the heirloom Rezha Macedonian pepper. These are incorporated into many recipes, and often roasted with oil, garlic and salt as a side. Ajvar, a dip made with roasted peppers, is another speciality. Beans play a huge role in the cuisine and are highly regarded for their quality. Tavce gravce (savoury baked beans) is Macedonia’s national dish.


Pilinja pecheni (braised quail)

This Macedonian recipe sees quails pan-fried in butter, then simmered and roasted in a rich red wine and onion stock. If you can’t find quails, it is possible to substitute poussin or chicken thighs. Serve with a rice pilaf or roast potatoes.


Tarrator (chilled cucumber soup)

This cold, refreshing soup is popular in Macedonia during the hot summer months, often served with bread and a crisp salad. A finishing swirl of cream balances the tartness of the yogurt and lemon juice.


Get a taste of Macedonia

Ajvar, £3.45/200g, forestbounty.co.uk

This sweet roasted red pepper paste is popular throughout the Balkans, and is often used as a condiment for grilled meats or served with bread and cheese.

Tikves Cuvee Methodius Vranec 2019, £9.99/75cl, novelwines.co.uk

From one of Macedonia’s oldest vineyards, Tikves, this showcases the dominant grape of the region, Vranec. Full of black fruit, cocoa and plum flavours, with gentle tannins.

Macedonian giant beans, £5.17/500g, greekmarket.co.uk

Make the national dish of Macedonia, tavce gravce, with these quality dried giant beans.


Find recipes for the above dishes in Macedonia – The Cookbook by Katerina Nitsou by Katerina Nitsou (£20, Kitchen Press).; photos by Oliver Fitzgerald