Kjebapchinja at Destan restaurant in the Old Bazaar (Stara Čaršija) in Skopje

Still very much processing impressions from the trip through the ex Yugoslav republics and autonomous provinces, my project of making something that includes pastry, spinach and cheese may have taken a turn in the direction of zeljanica, the veggie variation on the famous burek.

One of the things I found on the trip is that our southern cousins have great food and though the meats such as čevapi and pleskavice (my favourite was the one in Belgrade) are simply mouthwatering, especially when combined with kajmak and true burek is out of this world, the true riches are found in their fruits and vegetables.

open-air market in Skopje

I was finally able to eat REAL tomatos again. Tomatos with a delicious taste unlike the EU-prescribed reddish water in plastic wrapping offered in Slovenian supermarkets. Granted, such veggies can also be found in Slovenia on a few select open-air markets, when in season in our country.

red pepper
open-air market in Skopje

How could one not be impressed! Fruits and vegetables were diverse and plentiful so I could see myself very well switching over to a vegetarian diet, which would undoubtedly have been completely unimaginable both to the people in the area and to my travel companion.


In Kosovo, we were introduced to a dish we’d never heard of before: flia. It can take hours to prepare and is usually made at social occasions. The end result is akin to a lasagne made of multiple layers of crepes without filling, served with yoghurt. Mode of preparation: make crepe dough, bake a layer, spread oil and cream on the baked layer, spread oil and cream on top, bake in the oven, remove from oven and repeat the process until you run out of the dough. Sometimes, onions are used as well.

The fast food in the ex-yu area is so diverse and tasty that I can’t see the usual burger and pizza places making their way into the region big time anytime soon. Especially pizza in Kosovo as I’ve never seen anything like it before: a gas station every mile of the road from the Macedonian border to Priština and every gas station featuring its own pizza restaurant. Bizzare! Almost as bizzare as such signs alongside the same road:

tank speed limit
Speed limits in Kosovo

Back to the subject of the post. I’ve been planning on making a cheese spinach pie for weeks and yesterday finally did something about it. Having been preoccupied bothering MP candidates for the upoming Slovenian elections with questions on their political platform, I was running late so did not keep to a recipe but just threw some ingredients together in hopes the end result would feed my dinner guests and not leave any undesirable consequences.

I mixed a pound of spinach with salt, pepper, onion and chilli pepper seeds. Added a pound of cottage cheese, a spoon of sour cream, half a cup of grated cheese and an egg. Mixed well. Took ready-made pastry, oiled the pan then placed a layer of pastry, oiled it, topped with another layer of pastry, then a thick layer of the filling, topped with a layer of pastry, oiled it, added another layer of pastry, topped with filing etc, finishing with a layer of crumbled pastry which I sprinkled with oil. Baked at 180°C for about 40 minutes. I should have then poured more milk/sour cream or similar on top and bake for another minute or two, but well, didn’t. I like these pies to have crunchy tops as opposed to the soft, greasy ones.

So here is the result:


It turned out quite edible even if it’s not really zeljanica. Most people will use more eggs, more sour cream and pour one type of a dairy mix or another over the top before the baking is done.

With all the goodies from our own “down south” comfort food not boasting low-calorie properties, I think I’ve had my fix for a while and will be eating salads for a while 😈 , but nothing can stop me from having real coffee… Not now that I have my own coffee set from Sarajevo’s Baš Čaršija.

Enjoy! And possibly read Michael Flocker’s book on the Art of Hedonism kindly shared with me by our wonderful Belgrade hostess.

Bosnian coffee as served in Sarajevo, with ratluk