Planning a trip to Bosnia‘s beautiful capital but want to avoid eating meat? It’s not difficult! Whilst this city may specialise in various types of kebabs, meatballs and burgers, there’s also plenty of unusual and interesting meat-free options for you to try during your stay too. Discover my vegetarian highlights below:
Fried dough balls with a light and fluffy texture, usually served with creamy kajmak. They can be sweet (with jam) or savoury (with kajmak or cheese) and make a delicious meal by themselves.
Künefe / Kadaif
Künefe is a classic Turkish dessert (one of the many easily located in Sarajevo). It is made with shredded pastry or semolina dough, soaked in syrup, layered with cheese and sometimes served with clotted cream and nuts. It’s definitely an unusual combo to have cheese and syrup together but it sort of works.
You can also find the Bosnian version of this dish in Sarajevo, kadaif. This variant has a completely different texture and often includes nuts inside the pastry.
Pita Zeljanica – Spinach Pie
Bosnia is famed across the former Yugoslavia for its pies. This traditional type of pastry arrived with the Ottomans and is still found across the region today. It’s known as börek in Turkish, boureki in Greece and byrek in Albania and Kosovo, however in Bosnia, only the meat version is called a burek whilst the non-meat versions are known as pita.
Pita zeljanica is the most common vegetarian option (filled with spinach and cheese) and it’s surprisingly delicious. There’s also pita sirnica (filled with cheese only), pita krompiruša (potato) and if you’re really lucky you can find versions made with nettles and other herbs too.
Ramazani somun – Ramadan flatbread
A somun is a traditional Bosnian circular flatbread. They’re gently browned with a light aerated texture. For some reason, it seems like butter and olive oil were created to go with this bread, it makes such a delicious combo.
During Ramadan, bakers in Sarajevo make a special version of this bread called ramazani somun which includes a scattering of black nigella seeds for added flavour!
The longest cheese pide ever
On the edge of the Sarajevo bazaar, overlooking the river, you can find Konyalı Ahmet Usta, a restaurant that specialises in Turkish cuisine. It’s not the best place to go if you’re trying to avoid meat, the menu is literally around 97% animal products. However, for a spectacular lunch, why not share the longest cheese pide you’ve ever seen in your life!
Pide are boat-shaped Turkish flatbreads covered with various toppings, also known as ‘the Turkish pizza’. At Konyalı you can tuck into several meters of wood-fired cheese pide for a very reasonable price too!
Sütlaç / Sutlija
Another Turkish classic readily available in Sarajevo is sütlaç, a cold rice pudding (nicer than it sounds) which has been browned under a grill and garnished with ground cinnamon. I’m not usually one for cold stodgy desserts like this however I have to admit that this one was actually weirdly addictive.
Sutlija is the local Bosnian variant however I did not come across this during my time in Sarajevo.
Literally named ‘bottom of the cauldron’, this Ottoman Turkish dessert is like an eastern version of a crème caramel. This milky pudding is traditionally cooked in a big metal cauldron (hence the name) and allowed to caramelise on one side. Also served cold, this dessert is a really refreshing way to end a meal.
Cakes at Slastičarna Ramis
Slastičarna Ramis (i.e. Confectioner Ramis) is a Sarajevo institution having been run by the same family for over 100 years. They make an incredible variety of European cakes, crafted to the very highest standards. Always worth a trip, you’ll never tire of sampling Ramis’ delights. They have two locations in the city but the café in the bazaar area is especially delightful, although it can be difficult to get a seat at times.
Beverages – salep, boza and many more
Bosnia is home to an amazing variety of unusual beverages, well worth an investigation if you’re visiting the country. From hot, milky salep (made from orchid root powder) to cool, sharp boza (made from fermented millet) or sweet, delicious sok od ruže (rose juice) you’re bound to find something you’ve never tried before.
There’s also a huge array of traditional herbal teas, though many are not commercially available. Šipak čaj (rosehip tea) is fairly common, as is čaj od kamilice (chamomile tea) and zova čaj (elderflower tea). There are also varieties including nettle, lime tree flower and horsetail. Head to Čajdžinica Džirlo, a quaint wooden teahouse near the main square, to learn from the masters.
Or read more about my encounters with Bosnian beverages here
So as you can see, for a meat-free trip to Sarajevo, there’s no shortage of interesting things to sample. There’s plenty more I haven’t even mentioned, so let me know what else you can discover in this amazing city!