One of the best ways you can immerse yourself in a culture of a state you are visiting is through the food. Local delicacies will answer many questions about the history, nature and the way people lived there. Croatian cuisine was influenced by the food customs of many other nations, as Croatian regions were ruled for centuries by various different foreign powers. Dalmatian cuisine is typically Mediterranean which entails eating fish, vegetables, large use of extra virgin olive oil and herbs. Istrian cuisine is very similar to Dalmatian cuisine, with a larger use of fresh pasta (fuzi), different herbs and truffles which are a must try when in Istria. Traditional Slavonian and Zagreb cuisine are very similar to Hungarian cuisine with a big influence of Central European cuisine, with a large use of smoked meat, strong spices, red paprika, pickled vegetables etc.
- Pasticada – Pasticada is one of the most delicious specialties of traditional Dalmatian cuisine. Pot-roasted beef with red wine, prunes, bacon and vegetables served with homemade gnocchi should be on your “to-eat” list when in Croatia. Also called “The Queen of Dalmatian cuisine”, pasticada’s roots date back to ancient Greek and Roman cuisine, but it was also well known in the Venetian Republic where it was made exclusively for nobility.
- Black risotto (Crni rižot) – or squid risotto is made with seafood and squid ink. It is an absolute must-try when in Dalmatia and almost every restaurant has it on its menu.
- Sardines Round Cake (Viška ili Komiška pogača) – stuffed bread from the island of Vis. Ancient recipe brought on the island by Dionysius of Syracuse in 397 BC. There are two types of this bread, one is Viška pogača which is prepared with sardines and onions and the other one is Komiška pogača prepared with sardines, onions and tomato sauce.
- Fuzi with truffles (Fuži sa tartufima) – fuzi are a traditional Istrian homemade pasta, served with various sauces, but the most popular recipe is the one with truffles.
- Saur cabbage rolls (Sarma) – very popular recipe, especially during the winter holidays. Minced meat, spices and rice make the perfect stuffing wrapped in sour cabbage leaves.
- Mussels buzzara (Dagnje na buzaru) – Buzara is a method of cooking seafood like mussels, scampi, clams and other. You can find red or white buzara and the only difference is the use of tomato paste. Seafood is prepared with white wine, herbs and breadcrumbs.
- Gregada – famous Dalmatian fish stew prepared with various types of fish, white wine, herbs and spices. A must-try dish if visiting the island of Hvar.
- Paprenjaci – traditional Croatian biscuits, mostly prepared during Christmas holidays. These special cookies are made of an interesting mix of honey and black pepper. The main ingredients are honey, butter, eggs, nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts), pepper and various spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Strukle – very popular dish in Zagreb region. Thin rolled pastry filled with cottage cheese and sour cream, then rolled and cut into pieces, which can be boiled or baked.
- Soparnik – savory pie filled with chard is a very popular dish in Dalmatia, used also as a cultural trademark. Soparnik is made from common ingredients which are chard, onions and parsley placed between two layers of dough. Soparnik has been declared to be an intangible cultural heritage of Croatia by the Croatian ministry of culture.
- Krostule – famous carnival dessert, probably derived from famous Venetian recipe “Galani”. Long thin strips of dough, tied in a knot, deep fried and sprinkled with powder sugar.
- Walnut roll – tasty dessert made of sweet leavened dough containing walnut filling. It is often prepared along with poppy seeds roll.
- Rafioli – famous Dalmatian dessert made of pastry with almond, sugar and rum stuffing.
- Fritule – similar to mini donuts, fritule or pašurate are a ball shaped fried dough made with flour, milk, eggs and raisins, lemon zest and brandy. Usually prepared during winter holidays and carnival.
- Arancini – if you are looking for a perfect souvenir to take home from Croatia, then arancini are the best one, although they might disappear really fast. They are made of organic orange, lemon or mandarin skin, cut in strips, boiled and cooked with sugar, then left to dry for two, three days.
- Rozata – definitely one of the most famous Dalmatian desserts, a delicacy for every palate. The first recipe appeared in the 14th century in Dubrovnik where the Venetian merchants most likely brought it from France (creme caramel) and modified by the addition of sweet liqueur made from rose petals.
Try also: Octopus baked under the lid, Octopus salad, Grilled sardines, Skradinski risotto, Cheese from the island of Pag, Lamb baked under the lid, Caramelized almonds…