Forget fussy fine-dining, Montenegro food is wholesome, organic and perfectly simple. From the cool blue waters of the Adriatic to the jagged peaks of Kučka Korita, Montenegro has a dish to match.
Every bit as spectacular as the country’s natural beauty, here are 9 traditional Montenegrin dishes you’ll want to sample on your visit.
1. Brav u Mlijeku (Lamb in Milk)
Cooked in the highlands of northern Montenegro, Brav u Mlijeku is a popular staple in Montenegro cuisine.
Traditionally cooked in a bell-shaped cooking pot (or sac) over low coals, the lamb is slowly braised in milk with root vegetables (like carrots and fennel), rosemary, garlic, parsley and seasoning. The result is delicately tender and full of flavour, best enjoyed with chunks of crusty bread.
2. Kačamak with kajmak (Balkan porridge)
In keeping with the ‘slow food’ theme, another staple of Montenegro cuisine is Kačamak with kajmak.
Kačamak is usually made by cooking up a porridge of cornmeal and potatoes. To finish it off, the Montenegrins add kajmak, a traditional Montenegro cheese, as well as a liberal dollop of sour milk or yoghurt.
3. Njeguši Prosciutto
We have the small village of Njeguši to thank for its pršut (prosciutto or dry-cured ham) and sir (Montenegro cheese).
Another typically ‘slow’ approach to Montenegro cuisine, the whole pig hind legs are packed in salt for three weeks. This is hung to dry for a further three weeks and then smoked for at least another four months.
The locals enjoy this tasty snack with fresh bread or platters of Montenegro cheese, olives, grapes and figs, and so should you!
4. Njeguski Steak
A typical example of traditional Montenegro cuisine, the njeguski steak takes Njeguši prosciutto to delicious heights.
Njeguski steak is reminiscent of French cordon bleu. First, line your pork or veal schnitzel with prosciutto and kajmak cheese, then roll, bread and fry it to perfection. Enjoy it with fresh vegetables, crispy fries and a liberal glass of Montenegrin wine.
Montenegro food is generally divided into three regional styles: the mountains, the heartland and the coast. As you get closer to the coast, fresh seafood begins to dominate the menu. And Buzara is one of those must-try Montenegrin specialities you simply have to sample.
Buzara is a garlicky seafood dish (for example, prawns, shrimp, clams or squid) which are gently cooked in either a red or white wine sauce. It is the perfect accompaniment to a summer evening with friends and family.
6. Crni Rižot (Black Risotto)
Relishing the deep blue waters of the Kotor Riviera or exploring the medieval port of Budva? Find a seaside café and soak up the views while enjoying a generous helping of black risotto.
The risotto gets its colour (and wonderful flavour) from squid or cuttlefish ink. Add to that delectable bites of squid or shellfish, and you have an unforgettable Montenegro food experience.
How does one describe this uniquely Balkan meal? In essence, cevapi are small sausage-like patties of spiced meat. Pork, lamb or chicken, cevapi can be skewered and grilled with onion or peppers. but the locals also sometimes hand-shape them into rustic meatballs and then serve these with a chunky tomato and cucumber salad.
Finally, add to this a selection of dips and warm Mediterranean flatbread, and you have Montenegrin street food of the highest order.
If you are looking for a quick and easy breakfast or typically Montenegrin snack, look no further than burek. Found at pretty much every bakery in Montenegro, these deceptively-simple pastries are moreishly delicious.
Imagine a Balkan-style, mincemeat or cheese-filled pastry, made with flaky phyllo dough and served in buttery spirals or golden wedges. It’s absolutely perfect with a cup of coffee.
You can also stuff burek with spinach, mushrooms or potato. We’re willing to wager that you’ll have more than one!
9. Palačinke (Pancakes)
Of course, no list of Montenegro food is complete without at least one dessert. We could have gone with Montenegrin cake (kolači) or baklava, but the truth is we’re suckers for a fluffy pancake.
The locals fill Palačinke, or Montenegrin pancakes, with chocolate, jam, banana or nuts – or simply dust these with sugar. Once again, perfection lies in simplicity.
It doesn’t matter if you are rafting down the Tara River or cooling off in the glacial lakes of Durmitor National Park, food is going to play a starring role in your Montenegro holiday. Enjoy!
What is your favourite traditional Montenegrin dish or snack? Let us know in the comments below…