Traditional Montenegrin cuisine has been influenced by Italian, Turkish, Hungarian, and many others, promising a rich culinary experience for the visitors. Despite the size of the country, its specific geographic configuration resulted in diverse local specialties. The mountainous north, coastal south and the heartland have distinct culinary styles, so wherever you eat in Montenegro, you’ll discover new, delicious meals made with fresh, local ingredients.
North of Montenegro has hefty, greasy delicacies, made to provide sustenance during hard outdoor work and long, cold winters. Heavy meat-based dishes, potato varieties, and delicious cheeses are staples. Strong brandy called rakija will equip you with energy for all the sightseeing and hikes you have planned. The best honey, known for its quality and healing properties comes from the mountains. Skorup, salty clotted cream, specialty of Durmitor area is used as a spread, put in dishes such as kačamak, or just eaten straight, as Montenegrins love to do.
Here are the dishes you must try on your discovery of Montenegrin mountains:
Ultimate comfort food of Montenegrin north. It’s made by cooking wheat or corn flour with potatoes and adding homemade cheese and skorup. It pairs great with sour milk or sour cabbage salad. If you want to top up your calorie intake, try cicvara, equally tasty but a lot heavier meal made of milk, cheese, skorup and flour.
Meat, usually lamb or kid, slowly stewed under a bell-like dome covered with hot coals until it's so tender it separates from the bones. The meat is usually combined with potatoes and other vegetables for a richer taste.
Another meat specialty with an interesting way of preparation. Lamb meat is slowly cooked in homemade milk until it becomes soft and juicy. While cooking in milk, lamb loses its characteristic scent, and the result is a true delicacy.
The richness of nature, geography, climate, and the hard work of housewives from Kolašin and Mojkovac villages bring quality and distinction to this traditional layered cheese. This is the area surrounded by rivers Tara and Morača and mountains Bjelasica, Sinjajevina, and Komovi, so you can try it in taverns and restaurants around these natural wonders.
The influence of Italian and Dalmatian cuisine came via Boka Bay through grilled seafood, fish, and a rich dose of olive oil on Montenegrin coast. Use of wild herbs such as laurel and parsley and a generous amount of lemon juice and garlic gives these meals typical Mediterranean zest. For starters, you must try fish soup, garlicky grilled squid and squid stuffed with smoke-dried ham and cheese. After that, continue with the absolute stars of Montenegrin coastal cuisine:
A creamy meal cooked with squid ink. It usually has plenty of garlic and parsley and is often prepared with addition of shrimps and crab. Don’t let the spooky color scare you, this side dish is absolutely tasty.
Seafood, usually prawns, shrimps, and shellfish, cooked in red or white wine and spiced up with mixture of olive oil, wine, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.
Coastal restaurants offer different fish daily, depending on what has been caught on that day, but usually, there is plenty of choice. You’ll get to select a fish that will be prepared specially for you and usually garnished with a juicy mix of olive oil, silverbeet salad (blitva), mushy boiled potato, and garlic.
One of the famous seaside specialties well known all along the Mediterranean coast, made with fried or grilled squid. It can be served hot or cold and usually ordered as a side dish, complimenting meals with its rich taste.
Montenegrin cuisine is especially proud of its prosciutto, national meat specialty, of which the most famous is the one from Njeguši village in Cetinje. The unique taste and aroma of this smoked pork ham come from the use of sea salt combined with the curing on the mix of mountain and sea air and beech wood. Njeguši cheese, full-fat hard cheese produced from sheep's milk is usually served as a starter alongside prosciutto and olives coming from the coastal city of Bar.
Smoked carp is a delicacy you must try if you find yourself close to the Skadar Lake. The fish is caught in the lake, prepared according to old anglers’ recipes, and served in taverns in the Skadar Lake area. It is a pricy treat, but worth the money. Eel and bleak are other common freshwater fish that you can find here.
The first large gastronomic influence came from Turkey to the area of former Yugoslavia, creating culinary blends with local cuisine. Hungarian influence is present in stews, such as the light, pepper-based one, called sataraš.
If you have been traveling around, you probably recognize sarma, musaka, pilav, gibanica, kebab or đuveč from the menus of neighboring countries, but just in case you have to choose while in Montenegro, try:
Oily, juicy pastry filled with cheese, meat, spinach, or potato that comes in spirals of wedges. With a glass of plain yogurt, it makes a perfect Balkan breakfast.
Like in other Balkan countries, ćevapi are a popular and affordable food you’ll find in Montenegro. They are usually made of minced pork meat which is shaped into small sausages, and eaten with fresh flatbread, onion, and homemade skorup.
A piece of seasonal fruit is usually eaten after meals in Montenegro, but some delicacies will satisfy your sweet tooth:
Priganice - fritters served with honey, homemade jam, or cheese, usually eaten for breakfast.
Sundried figs with walnuts and honey
Slatko – relish made of quince, plum or other seasonal fruit
Sutlijaš - rice pudding
For an extra energy boost, pair them with Turkish coffee.
Montenegro has a long history of winemaking. The most famous vineyard region is the valley of Skadar Lake, where red and white wine are produced from grape varieties Vranac and Krstač, indigenous to the surrounding area.
Rakija – Montenegrin brandy that comes in different tastes, depending on the type of fruit used in the process of making. The most popular ones are made from plums, pears, apples and quinces. It’s a typical welcome drink when you visit someone in Montenegro, and it has found its use at any occasion – whether it’s a celebration or a regular friends and family gathering.
Besides Montenegrin wine and rakija, you should try a variety of beers produced by local breweries, or the most famous one – Nikšićko pivo, which is slowly becoming a national drink of the country.
Now you are ready to take a gastronomic journey around Montenegro and discover more of its extraordinary cuisine. As always, our fleet is ready for you, and we are here to help you with all you might need on jour journey through Montenegro. And don’t worry about those extra kilos, they’re well worth it. ☺