| A travel guide for Albania   (Tuesday, 23 April, 2024)

Albania: the land of the Eagle

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Traditional Cuisine
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The cuisine of Albania is influenced by Greek, Turkish, and Italian cooking. Every region in Albania and Kosovo has its own unique dishes. Albanian cuisine is characterized by the use of Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, black pepper, mint, basil, rosemary and more in cooking meat and fish. Olive oil and butter are a main ingredient in dishes.

Meat (lamb, beef, chicken, and rabbit) is used heavily in dishes in most of the country. Seafood specialties are also common in the coastal cities such as Durrës, Vlorë, Shkoder, Lezhe and Sarandë.

Vegetables are used in almost every dish. Usually, Albanian farmers grow every vegetable present in the Mediterranean region and sell them at the local farmers’ market. Vegetables are bought fresh at the farmers’ market early in the morning, which is open every day.

The main meal of the Albanians is lunch, which usually consists of gjellë, the main dish of slowly cooked meat, and a salad of fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, and olives. The salad is dressed with olive oil, vinegar, and salt.

(Main courses) Baked Lamb and Yogurt (Tavë Kosi)

Tavë Kosi is the the national dish of Albania, though popular throughout the Balkans at Easter. It’s a dish of lamb and rice baked into a yogurt-egg mixture. The yogurt kind of rises up and solidifies into a quiche-like texture. Ingredients: 1-1/2 lbs lamb 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick) 2 tablespoons rice Salt, pepper For Yogurt sauce: 1 tablespoon flour 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick) 2 lbs. yogurt 5 eggs Salt, pepper Servings: 4 Preparation: Cut meat in 4 serving pieces, sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper, and bake in a moderately-heated oven with half the butter, sprinkling the meat with its gravy now and then. When meat is […] Read More

(Main courses) Veal or Chicken with Walnuts (Gjellë me Arra)

Another widely eaten Albanian national dish. Ingredients: 2 tablespoons flour 15 finely crushed shelled walnuts 2 beaten egg yokes 1 minced garlic clove 1/4 lb. sticks butter 2-3 lbs of Veal or Chicken meat cut up in 1" cubes Servings: 4 Preparation: Place the meat or chicken in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until tender. Then remove the meat setting it aside in a dish while leaving the remaining juices in the saucepan. In another saucepan, add the flour and sauté over heat until it becomes light brown in color (do not overcook!) and add the half a stick of butter. Then, add the finely crushed walnuts, minced […] Read More

(Main courses) Albanian Vegetable Pies (Byrek shqiptar me perime)

When visiting Albania eating byrek is a must. One can find sweet varieties as well as more salty one's. However this latter one is eaten more. Albanian pies are generally made of thin pastry leaves which can be rolled out at home or bought as FILO dough at a supermarket. Most of the pies prepared by Albanian cooks are not sweet; instead, pie fillings are almost always salty. Thus, a piece of such a pie may well serve as the main dish of a meal.  Ingredients:    Spinach Pie (Byrek me spinaq)  1 cup oil, preferably olive oil  1 1/2 packets (or about 30) pastry leaves (Filo Dough)  1 1/2 […] Read More

(Main courses) Leek Caserole (Tavë me presh)

Lamb is probably the most widely used meat in the country. Although using beef might do as well. Ingredients:  2 lbs leeks   1/2 cup oil  3/4 cup chopped onion  1/2 lb ground meat(lamb, beef)  1 tablespoon tomato sauce  Mild red pepper  Salt  Pepper  Preparation: Cut off the green leaves from leeks; wash and cut leeks slantwise into 1-inch thick slices. Sauté in a little oil and place in a baking pan. Sauté onion and ground meat in remaining oil. Add beef stock, tomato sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Pour meat mixture over the Sautéd leeks. Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees F. […] Read More

(Main courses) Bean Yahni Soup (Jani me Fasule)

Their equivalent to mashed potatoes. It is a paprika-spiced pot of white beans and onions, slow cooked until tender and creamy. It was also mentioned that this is the main way Albanian’s eat their beans. Ingredients:  2 cups of dry white beans  1/2 cup chopped onion  1/2 cup olive oil  2 tablespoons tomato sauce  1 tablespoon chopped parsley  1 tablespoon chopped mint  salt, chili powder  Servings: 4 Preparation: Boil beans in hot water in an uncovered pot for 5 minutes. Rinse and boil for another 15 minutes in a covered stock pot in 3 cups hot water. Sauté onion in olive oil until it turns yellow. Add 2 tablespoons bean […] Read More

(Main courses) Fried Meatballs (Qofte të fërguara)

Traditionally served with fried poatoes, or rice, these meatballs are a reflection of the influence Middle Eastern culture has had on Albania. Small fried meat balls are another one of the dishes you will find all around the med; food is concrete evidence that once upon a time we were not all so distinctly separated by imaginary lines drawn on paper. Ingredients:  1 lb ground meat   1 slice stale bread 1 small onion, finely-grated  2 tablespoons chopped Feta cheese  2 tablespoons bread crumbs  2 tablespoons oil or melted butter  1 tablespoon chopped parsley  Salt  Pepper  Mint, Oregano  1 cup flour  1 cup oil (olive oil recommended)  Servings: 4 Preparation: […] Read More

(Main courses) Main dish of Mixed Vegetables (Turli perimesh)

People with the flu will love that the dishes are extremely plain. Albanians typically only use one herb or spice per dish. One. Like paprika. Or parsley. Or pepper. This mild approach to cookery takes some adjustment, but that’s the point of this adventure! Besides, fewer ingredients makes shopping easy! Ingredients:  2 lbs various vegetables (peppers, eggplant, okra, zucchini, potatoes, etc)   1/2 cup oil, divided  1 cup chopped onion  1 cup peeled chopped tomatoes  1 tablespoon chopped parsley  Salt  Pepper  Servings: 4 Preparation: After cutting off inedible tips of vegetables, wash and slice them into 1-inch squares. Sauté vegetables in half of the oil and remove them from the […] Read More

(Main courses) Veal with large Lima Beans (Mish Qingjji me Barbunja)

Veal with large lima beans Ingredients:  Veal with large Lima Beans (Mish qengji me barbunja)  1 1/2 lb veal  1 large onion, grated  salt, pepper  1 1/2 lb of large Lima beans  tomatoes  Servings: 4 Preparation: Select shoulder parts of the veal and cut them into 1" cubes. Wash the meat thoroughly with cold water, drain, and then place the meat in a pot together with butter and grated onions and stir fry for a few minutes. As the meat is frying, add water until the pieces are covered. Also add salt, pepper, and only two to three tablespoons of tomatoes (note: tomatoes can be cut into pieces to the […] Read More

(Main courses) Rabbit Casserole with Onions and Wine Vinegar (Çomlek)

An Albanian traditional rabbit dish. Rabbit is a meat that has many bones and little meat, that if cooked with patience can be very tender and tasteful. Ingredients:  1 rabbit, jointed  - 2 tablespoons tomato puree or 4-5 fresh tomatoes, approximately 350 gr., chopped 2 bay leaves   4 tablespoons red wine vinegar  150 ml olive oil  0.25 teaspoon sugar  4 cloves garlic, peeled  300 ml hot water   small piece cinnamon stick  salt and black pepper  700 gr. small onions, peeled but left whole  1 sprig of rosemary  1 small glass of red wine  Servings: 4 Preparation: The same recipe can be used for hare, with excellent results, by […] Read More

(Main courses) Meatballs with Egg and Lemon Sauce (Qofte me vezë dhe limon)

A 'must try' from the Albanian kitchen. Delicicous meatballs. Ingredients:  250 grams ground meat (lamb)   1/5 glass rice  1 tablespoon margarine  1 bunch parsley  2 1/2 glasses water  1/2 tablespoon black pepper  2 tablespoons salt  1 large onion  Sauce:  2 egg yolks or 1 egg  1/3 glass of water  1 lemon (the juice)  Servings: 4 Preparation: Grate the onion. Boil rice in 3 glasses of water and drain. Chop the parsley. Add the onion, rice, black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt to the ground meat and knead for 3 minutes. Moisten hands and form walnut sized balls of the meat, put them in a pan containing chopped parsley leaves […] Read More

(Main courses) Stuffed Peppers (Speca të mbushura)

Stuffed peppers or Speca te mbushura in Albanian, are simple to make and tastes great! Ingredients:      Peppers       onion       minced meat       rice 1 1/2 cup       &chopped dillnbsp;      parsley       tomato puree   Servings: 4 Preparation: Take some peppers suitable for stuffing, wash and remove the seeds. Chop 1 large onion finely and fry. Add some mince meat (optional) + rice 11/2 cup + chopped dill and parsley + some tomato puree. With this stuff the peppers. Put them on a baking tray and let them bake, adding water if necessary until the rice and peppers are soft […] Read More

(Main courses) Eemam Bayalldee (Imam Bajalldi)

This delicious Albanian dish from Turkish origine has many local variations as well as connected stories. Also known as Imam Bayouldi, the name means variably - the Imam (an Islamic Priest or Scholar) wept or the Imam fainted. Some legends say the Imam fainted at the deliciousness of the dish, the cost of the dish (for it uses the best olive oil), or that the oil was used from a dowry present to his new wife and that when the oil ran out and the dish could no longer be cooked, the Imam fainted. Ingredients:      Egg plant       1 onion       Garlic       tomatoo puree   […] Read More

(Appetizers) Tirana Furghes with Peppers (Fergesë e Tiranës me speca)

The specialty of the capital city, Tirana, is a dish called "Fergesë e Tiranës me speca" which is sautéed tomatoes and peppers with feta cheese. Ingredients:      Green or Red Peppers, half- pound      Red Tomatoes, one pound      Salted Cottage Cheese or Greek Feta Cheese, half-pound        Flour, one tablespoon        Butter, one quarter-pound stick        Virgin Olive Oil, 3 tablespoons        Add Salt, Black Pepper, and Chili Pepper to your taste   Servings: 4 Preparation: Peel the skin off the tomatoes and peppers. Sauté them in a saucepan for 5-7 minutes only in the olive oil and then […] Read More

(Appetizers) Tirana Furghes with Veal (Fergesë e Tiranës me mish viçi)

Fërgesë e Tiranës me Mish Viçi (Tiranian Veal with Fried Cottage Cheese) is a traditional Albanian recipe for a classic dish of fried veal and onions cooked in a cottage cheese and butter sauce thickened with butter. Ingredients:      Veal Cutlets, one pound        Salted Cottage Cheese or Greek Feta Cheese, half-pound        Flour, one tablespoon        Butter, one quarter-pound stick        Virgin Olive Oil, 3 tablespoons        Onion, one medium-sized        Add Salt, Black Pepper, and Chili Pepper to your taste    Servings: 4 Preparation: First, cut the veal cutlets into small pieces and then dice […] Read More

(Appetizers) Fried Eggplants, Zucchini and Green Peppers with Plain Yogurt (Tarator)

Tarator is a traditional Balkan dish. It is a cold soup (or a liquid salad), popular in the summertime in Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, southeastern Serbia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and in Cyprus (where it is known as Ttalattouri). Ingredients:      1250 gr. eggplants        1500 gr. zucchini        salt        a piece of cucumber finely chopped        250 gr. yogurt        2 tablespoons salt        4 cloves of garlic        Salt   Servings: 4 Preparation: Peel the eggplants in lengthwise strips at 1 1/2 cm intervals, then […] Read More

(Desserts) BAKLLAVA (Bakllava)

Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, but is also found in Central and Southwest Asia. Ingredients:      1/2 kg (about 18 ounces) of ready made rolled dough       200 g (about 7 ounces) of pressed walnuts       3 cups of sugar       2 cups of water       1 teaspoon of cinnamon    Preparation: Spread the rolled dough, and sprinkle the walnuts with the cinnamon, then cover it with another layer of dough. Cut the baklava in equal squares […] Read More

(Desserts) Flour Hallva (Hallvë)

The word halva originally derived from the Arabic root (sweet), is used to describe many distinct types of sweet confection, across the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, and the Balkans. Halva based on semolina may also be made from a variety of other ingredients, including sunflower seeds, various nuts, beans, lentils, and vegetables—such as carrots, pumpkins, yams, and squashes. Ingredients:      1 glass flour        1 glass margarine        1 1/4 glasses granulated sugar        5 glasses water    Servings: 4 Preparation: Heat the margarine in a saucepan very gently, and Sauté the flour until golden brown in the margarine for 40 […] Read More

(Desserts) Kadaif (Kadaif)

Kadaif is a very fine spaghetti-like pastry. It was probably introduced through the Ottomans. The strings are interlaced and then drenched in sugar syrup. Sometimes nuts are added to the mix for flavour. Below the Albanian version Ingredients:      butter spread 1/2 kg       kadaif       walnuts       cinnamon   Servings: 4 Preparation: On a baking pan covered with butter spread 1/2 kg (about 18 ounces) of kadaif. In the middle of the pan spread a row of walnuts and some cinnamon (1 cup of pressed walnuts should suffice). From above, spread on the kadaif 1/4 kg (about 9 ounces) of melted butter or place pieces of […] Read More

(Desserts) Fried pastry with Syrup (Tullumba)

Tullumba is a fried pastry that is traditionally eaten in the Balkans and some parts of the middle-east most notably Turkey. This version however is an old Albanian recipe and is used in Albanian speaking areas within the republic, Macedonia, southern Serbia, and Northern Greece. Ingredients:      2 tablespoons melted margarine        1 glass flour        3 tablespoons water        4 eggs        1/2 teaspoon salt        1 1/4 glasses olive oil        Syrup:       2 glasses sugar        1 3/4 glasses water        1 teaspoon lemon juice    Servings: 4 Preparation: […] Read More

(Desserts) Cookies (Kurabie)

For someone with an incurable sweet tooth, here a recipe for kurabie, a tender and crumbly butter cookie that finds ancestors from Greece to Egypt. The word kurabie is very likely derived from Greek karabion, meaning “boat,” hinting at the traditional shape of the cookie being a small crescent. Nowadays these cookies are eaten all around Albania. Ingredients:      1 cup of yogurt       3 eggs       1 cup of sugar       1/2 cup of butter       1 teaspoon of baking soda       2 packs of vanilla or the peel of half of a lemon        1 kg (about 35 ounces) of […] Read More

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