Food plays an important role in Serbian culture and identity. People enjoy talking about food or preparing food together. They feel proud of their traditional dishes. When you see the menu at a restaurant, however, you might think this cuisine is mostly meat-oriented. How is Serbia vegan-friendly, then?
Posno Food in Serbia
Serbia is vegan-friendly because there is ‘posno’ food (Lent in English). In this article, you will learn what posno (lenten or fasting) food is, where it comes from and what types of posno food there are in Serbia. I will also share my own experience with some Serbian posno dishes.
What is ‘Posno’? Is it Vegan?
Posno in Serbian means fasting. The Serbian Orthodox Church demands people to fast for certain periods during the year. One of them is before their Christmas (Božić in Serbian) time, January 7. The other one is before Easter. As far as I know, they fast for 40 days before Christmas and before Easter. As their church follows the Julian calendar, the date of Easter changes every year.
Especially during these periods (and on other Serbian Orthodox fasting days), you may easily find posno food at bakeries and restaurants. Unlike many other religions, fasting in Serbia means avoiding eating meat, dairy, eggs and lard. Does it sound familiar? Except for the fish and honey, it is almost vegan.
What are Traditional Posno (Vegan) Foods?
How cool it is to have vegan food as a part of your tradition! As you see, posno is vegan food except for fish. Even some of the traditional meat-based foods are magically turned into plant-based foods when fasting starts. Posna sarma, burek, pogača and prebranac are some examples of traditional vegan options in Serbia. In addition to them, there are other vegan foods that are mostly served as posno.
My Top Vegan Dishes to Try in Serbia
Here are super delicious and healthy vegan dishes not to miss in Serbia.
1- Prebranac (Baked Beans)
This tasty casserole of beans with caramelized onions is considered to be a winter dish. It is one of the most common vegan dishes in Serbia. Served hot or warm in a clay pot, prebranac is by far the best vegan dish here for me. I’d like to add one cultural detail about this food. The beans are called ‘pasulj’ in Serbian and one of the very common sayings is ‘prosto kao pasulj’ which means ‘easy as pie’.
2- Posni Burek (Pastry)
In almost every bakery, posni burek options will make you start your day happily. Posni burek is made with potatoes, mushrooms or mixed vegetables. My favourite is the mushroom one called ‘burek sa pečurkama’.
3- Đevrek (Bagel)
Đevrek is Serbian bagel with sesame seeds. It can be quite long compared to a bagel though. It is simple, tasty and easy to find almost everywhere.
4- Posna Sarma (Stuffed Leaves)
Sarma is a dish that has been popular since the Ottoman times in the Balkans. Serbian posna sarma is made with pickled cabbage leaves (sauerkraut) filled with rice and walnuts. It can be done with rice, pepper and mushrooms too. This vegan dish is hard to prepare but it is classic comfort food.
5- Ajvar (Red Pepper Spread)
This famous spread or side dish that Serbians enjoy eating at every meal. It is simply made with roasted red peppers, salt, vinegar and vegetable oil. You will love this comforting dish on a slice of hot bread.
6- Čorba od Pečuraka (Mushroom Soup)
Who doesn’t like the thick and creamy mushroom soup on a winter day? Serbia’s čorba od pečuraka can luckily be found in all seasons. It is one of the tastiest vegan dishes you should try when you are in Serbia.
7- Posna Pizza (Vegan Pizza)
In many restaurants, you can easily find a vegetarian pizza on the menu. Then you simply ask to have it vegan. In Serbia, however, you just say ‘posna pizza’ please. As a result, you will have a very nice and colorful vegan pizza with vegan cheese on top. Remember to say ‘without fish’.
8 – Punjena Paprika (Stuffed Peppers)
This vegan dish in Serbia is Serbia’s famous stuffed peppers. The filling is the same as sarma. You can find this dish as green stuffed peppers in many restaurants. I love the red stuffed peppers more.
9 – Ćufte od Pasulja (Bean Balls)
Beans appear in another delicious vegan dish of Serbia. Ćufte od Pasulja (bean balls) is a great vegan dish that you should not miss. White beans and leeks are mixed and shaped into little balls. Then they are cooked in the oven with caramelized onions. More than yummy!
10 – Đuveč
Here is another casserole recipe from Serbia that will please your taste buds. This vegan meal is stewed vegetables cooked in an earth-ware pot called đuveč. In Turkey, there is also a similar dish called güveç. Unlike it, Serbian posni đuveč has rice in it and it makes it more hearty.
Serbia is certainly vegan-friendly as you see. I think you will enjoy travelling to Serbia. If you want to learn more, you can listen to our podcast, Može Kafa?, on Serbian culture, food and language.
Feel free to write your comments and questions below.