Homemade sarma, stuffed cabbage rolls, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Global Storybook

Traditional Dishes Served on Christmas in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Irma Mirza

Irma Mirza

Irma Mirza is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (Bosnia & Herzegovina).
Irma is a passionate explorer, writer, traveler, and historian.
Irma Mirza

Christmas is one of the most popular holidays in Bosnia and Herzegovina, given the fact that the population in this vibrant Balkan country is both – multinational and multicultural.  Thus, the preparations for this magnificent festivity start weeks in advance.

Not only do people embellish their houses, buy new decorations and live Christmas trees, but they also tend to choose the best menus for their Christmas Eve’s dinners.  And that is why many take out their old grandmothers’ cookbooks and find the most delicious traditional dishes to treat their family, friends, and guests with.

Of course, Christmas dishes differ from one region to another in Bosnia and Herzegovina, though there are some similarities pertinent to the entire country.  For that reason, I’ll share a rather short list of the general dishes served on Christmas Eve in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  I’m sure that you will want to try at least some of them! 🍽

Christmas in Bosnia and Herzegovina - Global StorybookFish and Greens – A Must on the Christmas Eve

Regardless if one is religious or not – there are always fish and greens present on everyone’s table at the Christmas Eve’s dinner.  In Bosnia and Herzegovina, people usually prepare either codfish or hake.  Greens are usually added as a side dish, but sometimes a potato salad is served as well.  Furthermore, there are two variations of codfish served – a white and a red one.

In case of the white codfish – the fish would be placed into a pot filled with water together with laurel leaves.  It needs to boil for about 2 hours, after which the fish would be cleaned and the bones removed.  The fish meat is then milled into a kind of cream, together with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley.  This fish-cream is served on top of a toasted bread, usually with some kind of a green salad.  Bosnian-Herzegovinians enjoy eating codfish this way, so you should try it when you come here!

codfish spread, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Global StorybookStuffed Squid

As you can already see – Bosnians love to serve seafood on the Christmas Eve.  One of the recipes that gained popularity in recent years is the stuffed squid.  It is not a traditional Bosnian meal (it’s rather a Greek one).  But it found its way on our Christmas Eve’s plates, due to it’s very delicious and lean texture.

So what is our stuffed squid usually made of?  It’s actually an incredible mixture of Bosnian traditional cheese, called ‘vlašićki sir’ (named after the mountain Vlašić, where it’s produced), finely chopped tomatoes and green peppers, as well as salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil.  The squid is then roasted on a grill for several minutes and is usually served while hot.

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Stuffed Squid, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Global StorybookHoliday Soup – Perfect for Christmas Menu

The Christmas day needs to start with a healthy dish.  One that will announce the arrival of the rich Bosnian cuisine, prepared with a lot of love and dedication.  Hence, an early Christmas lunch usually starts with some kind of a soup.   Chicken soup made with homemade noodles, beef broth, mushroom soup or tomato soup, are just some of the popular options.  However, some locals claim that our so-called ‘holiday soup’ is the best.

The traditional ‘holiday soup’ is usually made of white and green asparagus and some other tasty ingredients, like sour cream, white wine, mussels, olive oil, garlic, and spices.  The soup is creamy and thick, and what’s more – it is usually topped with deliciously roasted mussels.  Natives in Bosnia and Herzegovina usually serve it on Christmas, but other holidays are not excluded from its presence as well.

Bowl of asparagus soup, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Global StorybookRoasted Lamb With Potatoes

Everyone who has visited Bosnia and Herzegovina at least once, will know that we cannot live without meat.  Bosnian-Herzegovinians are true meat lovers, hence you will find it in every corner of our country.  And that’s why no holiday can pass without us serving some delicious red meat.  In addition, each dish is always prepared with some kind of vegetables, either boiled, stewed, baked or roasted.

Roasted lamb with potatoes is a Bosnian-Herzegovinian favorite.  You can find it on virtually every Bosnian table during the Christmas holiday.  It’s not that hard to prepare, plus it doesn’t need many ingredients.  All you need is a large piece of lamb (about 2-3 kg), usually without bones and 1,5 kg potatoes.

So here’s a quick recipe.  Cut the meat and the potatoes into small chunks.  Roast them at a moderate temperature for at least 1-1,5 hours.  Spatter some salt, pepper, and Vegeta (dry vegetable mix) – then serve.  These are the only spices usually added to this dish.  Finally, it’s also the meal that will most likely be eaten before any other, on Christmas.

Lamb roast with vegetables, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Global StorybookCabbage Rolls

If there are no cabbage rolls present on a Bosnian Christmas table – then it’s like it’s not even a Christmas at all.  Bosnian-Herzegovinian have an old-time tradition of making the cabbage rolls for every Christmas holiday.  Together with the roasted lamb and potatoes, this meal is a true must on the menu.

The cabbage rolls’s recipe is very simple – they’re usually made of minced meat and the cabbage leaves.   However, Christmas cabbage rolls have one special ingredient – ham.  It’s usually mixed with minced meat, rice, and spices.  The mixture is then rolled into the cabbage leaves and boiled on average temperature, for an hour or two.

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So should you want to make something new for your own Christmas table – choose these cabbage rolls, and amaze your family and friends!

Homemade sarma, stuffed cabbage rolls, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Global StorybookCakes and Desserts – Hurmašica

There are numerous cakes and desserts made in Bosnia and Herzegovina specially for Christmas.  Some of them are native, while others are foreign.  Among the traditional cakes, hurmašica takes the first place on the Christmas menu.

The cakes’s dough is usually made with eggs, sugar, and oil.  It’s then divided into small splattered balls that are baked at 220°C until they become golden.  Next, ‘agda’ – a mixture of water and sugar, is added to the cakes.

Hurmašica is a sweet and tasty cake, and if you visit Bosnia and Herzegovina during Christmas, you will find it on every corner.

Hurmašica dessert, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Global StorybookBaklava

Another widespread dessert, found all over the country, and one that Bosnians prepare for all the major holidays, is ‘baklava’.  Perhaps you have heard about it in Turkey, but the two cakes – Bosnian and Turkish, have their differences.  Turkish baklava is usually made with pistachios, while Bosnian is made with nuts.

Baklava is a very sweet dessert.  It involves a kind of a puff pastry (it’s called ‘jufka’ in Bosnian) and 1 kg of finely chopped nuts.  It is baked at a low temperature, and after that – a mixture of hot water and sugar is added to the cake.    Christmas is simply impossible without baklava in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so get ready to taste some when you visit our country.

Traditional Bosnian sweets and dessert baklava - Global StorybookChristmas Cookies

A variety of Christmas cookies is prepared days and even weeks, before the holiday.  Bosnian-Herzegovinian women love to prepare tasty and colorful cookies to serve to their guests.  They include: the so-called chocolate triangles with hazelnut, Christmas stars with cinnamon, chocolate stars, Christmas honey cakes, chocolate and coconut rolls, black and white cookies, rum balls, and many others.

Chocolate stars cookies🍪🍪🍪

The Christmas menu in Bosnian-Herzegovinian households is very rich and is abound with salty and sweet dishes.  Some are traditional, while others are not.  Bosnians will always find a perfect mixture of both, local and international dishes.  Cakes and desserts are also an important part of the Christmas treats.  Besides the traditional cakes, like baklava and hurmašica, there’s a whole bunch of others (usually 6 or 7) that Bosnians make during one of their favorite holidays.

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