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

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CHARLIE BAGGS is Executive Chef/Founder and creative fire behind Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations in Chicago, leading a team of chefs, food scientists, nutritionists, brand specialists/marketers, food stylists and photographers to develop innovative foodservice solutions. For more than 20 years, he has consulted on product development, with a focus of integrating an innovative, quality approach that ensures every client meets their culinary business goals. Building strategy, managing finance, creating and implementing marketing plans, sales forecasting and planning, and designing technical and culinary programs are just a few of the skills he has honed running his company. He deploys his skills with Culinary in Motion virtual tasting using his BASICS taste and flavor model to drive home craveability. Charlie has a B.S. in management and an A.O.S. in nutrition from Purdue University, as well as an A.O.S. in culinary from The Culinary Institute of America, where he is a newly inducted Fellow. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Illinois Institute of Technology. [email protected]