The next time you’re firing up the grill for some sausages, make room in your repertoire for some ćevapi. This small, hand-formed Balkan sausage is made from a mix of ground meat (pork, lamb, beef, or a combination) and seasoned with garlic, salt, and pepper, and sometimes a little paprika. Ćevapi (pronounced che-vah-pee), or ćevapčići, are incredibly easy to make at home with just a few ingredients and a little time for refrigeration.
Though these Balkan sausages are simple, they take well to a good charcoal grilling and are often enjoyed alongside flatbread or pita, chopped raw onions, and ajvar, a fresh, sometimes-spicy relish made of processed roasted red bell peppers, eggplant, and garlic. They can also be served with fresh cottage cheese and a medley of roasted or grilled vegetables. However you choose to serve them, they’re a light yet delicious addition to your grilled meat rotation.
A history of ćevapi
Ćevapi most likely originated in Serbia. The word itself, “ćevapi,” is derived from the Persian word “ćevap”, which translates to “grilled meat” or “meat skewer.” The dish is similar to köfte, a Turkish dish that is also made by forming meat and then grilling it.
The first references to the dish are from the 1800s, during the time that the Balkans were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman influence pervades Balkan cuisine in the form of many dishes, such as baklava, which is a popular dessert in the region.
Ćevapi gained particular popularity as an accompaniment for alcoholic beverages, especially in Belgrade, the purported birthplace of the dish. It’s said the sausages were originally the creation of a family restaurant owner who had the idea to take pljeskavica (a Serbian-style burger) and form it into the shape of a kofta. Though preparations will vary from region to region, most establishments will serve a similar dish of short, stout sausages, prepared with the traditional accompaniments.
More popular Balkan dishes to try
Balkan cuisine is varied and delicious. If you’re interested in trying more Balkan dishes beyond ćevapi, there are plenty to choose from, and some that may already be familar due to Mediterranean and Central European influence. Dolma, for example, is something you may have already tried in the form of stuffed grape leaves. Balkan dolma, however, aren’t strictly stuffed leaves, but refer to any number of stuffed vegetables — including zucchini, tomatoes, and onions.
Burek, or borek, is another popular Balkan dish, made of pastry filled with a variety of meats, vegetables, and cheeses. The dough is a flaky pastry dough, similar to phyllo dough.
You might also try sarma, a stomach-warming dish made of fermented cabbage leaves stuffed with a medley of rice, meat, and vegetables and simmered in a tomato-based sauce. This is a popular, comforting dish for the cold months of winter.
Source : Thedailymeal