Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Charlie Baggs
January 9, 2020

Balkan cuisine encompasses multiple regions, and each region has its own set of specialty ingredients.

Ideas for menu adoption can include various meat or poultry skewers or cevapi (small grilled sausages), often with traditional spice blends such as sharena sol (a Bulgarian salt seasoning), samardala (an herb and salt blend) or chubritsa (a spice blend of savory, fenugreek and sweet red pepper).

Consider also the savory pie called burek, stuffed with traditional ground meats like lamb and beef, along with cheese.

A creamy cheese known as kajmak is a staple here, often served with an assortment of breads.

Sarma is a common Balkan term used to describe rolls of stuffed cabbage leaves, usually filled with grains and minced meats.

An essential Balkan condiment is ajvar. It is similar to a pesto, but made of roasted red pepper and garlic.

Balkan charcuterie is called suho meso, air-dried meat, sometimes referred to as jerky but with a similar texture to prosciutto.

Thanks to its proximity to the Adriatic Sea, seafood dishes such as fried sardines and octopus salad are common Balkan offerings.

Two favorite sweets of the region are palacinke, Balkan’s version of the crêpe, or krempita, a flaky pastry crust filled with a rich custard.

About The Author


Executive Chef/Founder at Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations in Chicago, leading a team of chefs, scientists, nutritionists, brand specialists/marketers, stylists and photographers to develop innovative foodservice solutions. For more than 15 years, he has consulted on product development, new item commercialization, national account representation, technical lab analyses, concept development, portfolio reviews and benchmarking, marketing and consumer insights, and culinary training. He is a recognized speaker, teacher and author, and also sponsors an employer-of-choice intern program.