Recipe: Balkan Ćevapčići Served with Ajvar

I can’t lie, ćevapčići is probably one of my favourite finds from Eastern Europe. The ground beef sausage shaped burgers are popular across Yugoslavia and are traditionally served with flat breads, kajmak and ajvar (more of my favourites!). The kind people at Cox & Kings recently sent me a jar of ajvar (an aubergine and red pepper condiment) they picked up while in the region, so I thought it was the perfect excuse to whip up my own ćevapi. I like to add a bit of an Ottoman twist with some cumin and coriander. Find out how to recreate memories from your time in the Balkans below…


Ingredients (serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a main)

500g mince beef

250g mince pork or veal

1 white onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp vegeta (optional)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

25g plain flour

10 tbsp rapeseed oil


Preheat oven to 180 degrees C

Mix the mince, spices, garlic and onion together in a bowl

Form into sausage shapes

Roll each sausage in plain flour

Put in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes

Heat the oil in a griddle pan and gently fry each ćevap

Place the ćevapi in an ovenproof dish and heat in the oven for 20 minutes

Serve with flatbreads, sour cream, ajvar, and salad


Of course if you don’t live in a studio flat and have the luxury of outside space (and the sun should appear) you can always barbecue the ćevapi instead!

The ajvar was  courtesy of our friends at Cox & Kings who provide fabulous tailor-made holidays all over the world including Serbia and other East European destinations.

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Want to Know What Tito Ate? You Need Tito’s Cookbook!

While I was in Belgrade I visited The House of Flowers, Tito’s Mausoleum.  On entering the museum and while buying my entrance ticket I was excited to spy a copy of Tito’s Cookbook.

Tito's Cookbook

The book, written by Anja Drulovic is a compilation of Tito’s favourite recipes, alongside images of him meeting international dignitaries including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and the Kennedys, famous actors such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and even ruthless dictator, Saddam Hussein.

Tito's Cookbook

It’s certainly an interesting read, with some fantastic photographs.  Priced at 3000 Serbian Dinar I think it’s well worth buying for those with an interest in food and history.

Tito's Cookbook

Tito’s Cookbook by Anja Drulovic

Published by Laguna

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International JAZZ FEST Sarajevo 2010

Between the 2nd and 7th of November the 14th International Jazz Fest will take place in Sarajevo.  Tickets can be booked online from 4th till 22nd October 2010. Check out the line-up below and for more information visit Jazz Fest.


02.11.2010. 20:30
Main Stage – Bosanski kulturni centar, Branilaca Sarajeva 24

03.11.2010. 19:00
Solo Stage – Dom Oružanih snaga, Zelenih beretki 2

03.11.2010. 21:00
Main Stage – Bosanski kulturni centar, Branilaca Sarajeva 24

04.11.2010. 19:00
Solo Stage – Dom Oružanih snaga, Zelenih beretki 2

04.11.2010. 21:00
Main Stage – Bosanski kulturni centar, Branilaca Sarajeva 24

05.11.2010. 19:00
Next Generation – Pozorište mladih, Kulovića 8

05.11.2010. 21:00
Main Stage – Bosanski kulturni centar, Branilaca Sarajeva 24

06.11.2010. 21:00
Main Stage – Bosanski kulturni centar, Branilaca Sarajeva 24

06.11.2010. 23:45
Groove Stage – Dom mladih, Terezije bb

07.11.2010. 12:00
Radionica Mala sala BKC a, Branilaca Sarajeva 24

07.11.2010. 13:00
WORKSHOP: Meet the instruments!
Radionica Mala sala BKC a, Branilaca Sarajeva 24

02.- 07.11.2010. 23:00
Bosanski kulturni centar, Branilaca Sarajeva 24

Bargain Retreats with Regent Holidays


Value for money has always been a priority for Regent Holidays which takes away the tedium of watching the pennies on holiday thanks to its selection of unusual, accordingly-inexpensive destinations, including the vast majority of Europe’s top 10 least expensive countries.  Often overlooked, countries including Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovena, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro offer the visitor a fulfilling holiday without leaving a large dent in the wallet.

Taking the simple cup of coffee for example – a freshly brewed mug costs just €0.50 in Bosnia & Herzegovena, a country that boasts a glorious mix of the Mediterranean and Alpine, as enchanting as Italy, where a caffe latte can set you back as much as €5… With this in mind, why not sample the delights of Sarajevo, Bosnia’s bustling capital city for a palatable £443 per person with Regent, including 3 nights in a 3* hotel on B&B basis and flights.

Then there’s Montenegro, a perennially chic, discreet country with towering mountains that dip dramatically down to the Mediterranean and to deep-set fjords. New to Regent’s 2009/2010 brochure, Montenegro attracts a glamorous, discerning visitor, comparable to the Côte d’Azur, where you wouldn’t see much change from €50 at a restaurant while in Montenegro a three course meal at a reputable restaurant costs a toothsome €12.50. For a taste of this exceptional country, Regent has an eight day Highlights of Montenegro tour from £935pp including 3* accommodation on B&B basis, a full day excursion to Cetinje and Biogradska Gora National Park, return flights and transfers.

Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor, Montenegro

Macedonia is another joyously inexpensive European country and one of the Balkans’ best-kept secrets. A veritable treasure trove of Greek, Roman, Slav and Turkish history, Macedonia – also known as the ‘Land of Lakes’ – is awash with monasteries, mosques and castles and some surprisingly good local wine. Regent’s eight day Skopje & Lake Ohrid trip (from £695 per person including 4* hotel accommodation on B&B basis, flights and private car transfers) offers a brilliant overview of the country, where a decent bottle of wine will set you back €4!

Regent offers many more holidays to inexpensive European destinations that allow visitors to splash out on the ground. Holidays such as a nine day fly-drive of Bulgaria’s highlights for £595 per person (including flights, B&B 3* or 4* accommodation and care hire); a seven day Tirana & Beach holiday to Albania from £530 per person (including flights, B&B hotel accommodation and private transfers); a three night city break to Krakow from £274 per person (including flights and 4* hotel accommodation on B&B basis) or a three night city break to Belgrade from £418 per person (including flights and 3* hotel accommodation on B&B basis).

Sveti Naum Monastery, Macedonia
Sveti Naum Monastery, Macedonia

Regent Holidays

Tel: 0845 277 3317

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Bargains Still to be had in Eastern Europe

Leontij Vodoca, Strumica, FYROM
Leontij Vodoca, Strumica, FYROM

Eurostat have revealed the results of their latest price survey across Europe, proving bargains are still to be had across Eastern Europe. The survey revealed that price levels in 2008 differed widely across Europe: Northern European countries tend to have the highest prices while the south-eastern European countries have the lowest prices. Southern and central European countries tend to show price levels closer to the EU average.

In Denmark consumer prices appeared 41% higher than the average of the 27 EU Member States, while in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia prices are 53% lower than this average. Among the EU Member States, the cheapest country is Bulgaria (49% below the average).

Food and non-alcoholic drinks are most expensive in Denmark and cheapest in Bulgaria. Taxes on food, alcohol and tobacco across the bloc’s 27 states are highest in Ireland and lowest in Romania. Regarding clothing prices, Britain is the least costly and Finland is the most expensive. Prices for consumer electronics are lowest in Britain and highest in Malta. Hotels cost the most in Denmark and the least in Bulgaria.

Bran Castle, Romania
Bran Castle, Romania

Eurostat examined prices of 2500 consumer goods and services across 37 European countries (27 Member States, the three Candidate Countries (Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey), three EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) and four Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia).

The results of the surveys are expressed in “price level indices” (PLIs), which provide a comparison of countries’ price levels with respect to the European Union average: if the price level index is higher than 100, the country concerned is relatively expensive compared to the EU average and vice versa, if the price level index is lower than 100, then the country is relatively cheap compared to the EU average.

Mostar, Bosnia & Hercegovina
Mostar, Bosnia & Hercegovina

10 Least Expensive European Countries
1. Macedonia
2. Bulgaria
3. Albania
4. Bosnia and Herzegovina
5. Serbia
6. Montenegro
7. Romania
8. Lithuania
9. Poland
10 Slovakia

10 Most Expensive European Countries:
1. Denmark
2. Norway
3. Switzerland
4. Ireland
5. Finland
6. Iceland
7. Luxembourg
8. Sweden
>9. France
10. Belgium

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The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway


I am always wary of anything that has become a hit, all too often they are quite incredibly over-rated.I am even more wary of novels based around historical events, particularly recent ones, because they can give a false portrayal.For an historian this is incredibly frustrating.However, Galloway, writes convincingly and, as his afterword explains, did a great deal of research in able to publish this novel.Although I would not call it enjoyable as such, I would describe it as a must-read.

The novel is based around three characters whose lives intertwine, albeit loosely, because of the Cellist of Sarajevo whose character is based upon Vedran Smailovic.Vedran Smailovic became renowned for playing Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor at the site where many were killed when a mortar attack hit while they queued for bread.

The three key characters typify sections of Sarajevo’s society during the siege. There is Arrow, who has sacrificed her identity but attempts to maintain her moral stance despite acting as a sniper for the resistance. She is desperate to not become as evil as those ruining one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world. However, as events progress, her choices lead her down a path she would have rather avoided. Her struggle to remember her past being intensifies and final re-acceptance of her true self ends the novel dramatically.

Dragan, is an example of many men in Bosnia who helped their wives and children get out before the siege became too bad but believing it would not last long or intensify. However, he is left, lonely and scared and attempts to shy away from the familiar.

Yet, in contrast to Arrow and Dragan who try to forget the past in order to reconcile and learn to live with the current situation, Kenan and his wife cling to any familiarity possible, even if it is just a minute of electricity, a small amount of clean water or a shared joke. Dragan awaits the day he is killed or drafted into the army but tries to hide his fears from his family and maintain a strong fatherly figure.

Each, for a different reason, are drawn to the cellist and his daily, outdoor, risky concert, who and which become a symbol, for some of hope, for some of compassion, for some of the past.

The Siege of Sarajevo 1992-1996:

The siege was the longest siege in the history of modern warfare, stretched from 5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996. The UN estimates that approximately ten thousand people were killed and fifty-six thousand wounded. On 22nd July 1993 an incredible 3777 shells hit the city.Last year, news of Bosnian Serb Army leader, Karadzic’s arrest and trial hit the headlines but unfortunately, General Mladic remains at large, despite attending football matched regularly and publishing a book of poetry.

Sarajevo is a beautiful city, surrounded by the hills in which Tito hid many of his weaponry.Slovenia and Croatia having already sought emancipation from the United Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Hercegovina attempted to gain independence.However, the fear of a an independent, strong and armed Bosnia led the Serbs to attain the weaponry and position themselves in ideal locations to shell key cities such as Sarajevo and Mostar.Although a great deal of reconstruction has taken place, in both Sarajevo and Mostar much destruction can still be seen, no more poignant than the ruined Sarajevo Library.

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway is available nationwide priced at £7.99

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Taurus in Mostar

There is probably no better meal, certainly no tastier, than a simple one.  During my travels last summer, I returned to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  My first visit to Mostar, the year prior, had been somewhat eventful.  While I was staying in Split, my travelling companion and I decided to visit Mostar for the day.  We bought bus tickets and had the day planned perfectly, even visiting the British Consulate in Split to discuss the safety of the trip, telephoning the British Foreign Office in Bosnia to talk about our visit and to inform them (as we at the time thought we had to) of the brief few hours we planned to spend in Mostar.  All of these precautions thoroughly amused our families.

The Riva in Split
The Riva in Split

The day to catch the bus came and we climbed aboard a reasonably nice coach, although the air-conditioning did not work and the temperature was at times, quite unbearable.  Our bus driver and ticket inspector were both nice, but the driver insisted on beeping his horn at every vehicle, cyclist or person we passed.  This was also the first time I encountered the concept hailing a bus.  The buses run through villages and random people would just flag down the bus.

Due to the constant stopping to pick up villagers, we arrived rather late.  Despite Mostar being a rather, if not the most important city in Herzegovina, certainly for its history, there was no tourist information.  After attempting to gain directions from the ticket woman in the bus station, we wandered toward the Old Town.  After being horribly lost, my travelling companion and I stopped two young teenage boys for help.  When asking them if they spoke English and if they could tell us how to get to the Old Bridge (while making bridge hand signals) they rolled their eyes and said they could show us the way.

My travelling companion and I looked at each other with eyes that read, if they start to lead us down an alleyway, run, but we both decided we were probably safe when old woman after old woman kept waving at the boys.  The boys kindly led us to the Old Bridge while telling us about Mostar’s history and food, and finally we were able to take in the true spectacle that is Mostar.


Our journey home was particularly eventful.  We boarded what could be described as a bus which was probably our combined age and on reaching Imotski, where numerous teenagers raced old Mercedes and BMWs, we were asked to vacate the bus.  Thankfully, a man who previously belonged to the JNA (Yugoslavian Army) was rather helpful in removing us from the bus and then placing us on another, equally old and frayed bus.

After just twenty minutes having vacated Imotski bus station, the bus was confronted by a car transporter lorry having misjudged a mountain bend and the position of a lorry in the opposite direction, consequently resulting in the car transporter slipping off the side of a mountain.  One Croatian, police car and two Croatian policemen then attempted to clear the road blockage.

Despite my first trip to Mostar being so eventful, as I said, I returned to Mostar while travelling last summer.  After a slightly less eventful journey from Sarajevo to Mostar (although rather arduous due to the numerous smoking breaks for the driver and passengers) we located our pension/pansion, Pension Aldi, just across the road from the bus station.

Starving, hot and thirsty, we headed off in search of a good restaurant where we could eat and relax for a few hours.  We happened across Taurus, near Kriva Cuprija (Sloping Bridge).  This bridge is the oldest, single-arch, stone bridge in Mostar.  It was built in 1558 by Cejvan Kethoda, a Turkish architect.  It is commonly believed that this bridge was a test run for the construction of Stari Most (the Old Bridge) which was destroyed during the 1990s war but rebuilt in 2005, partly by the British Army.

Kriva Cuprija

Taurus is a traditional restaurant which overlooks the Kriva Cuprija.  It serves large portions of Dalmatian and Italian-influenced dishes.  There is a huge fire place which you can cosy up to in the winter and a beautiful terrace on which you can sit and listen to the relaxing sounds of the river.

I particularly enjoyed the fish platter which consisted of, not one but two large trout, chips (as in fries rather than crisps), roasted tomatoes, courgette and aubergine.  I washed this down with a half litre of house red wine.  After all that food I was thoroughly stuffed and so relaxed by the river for another hour or so and consumed another half litre of house wine.

What I loved about this restaurant was one, how cheap it was, but two, how helpful, kind, and appreciative the owner and his son were to serve us.  I felt like I was making a difference to those who had suffered a great deal through both war, and poor political and economic situations.

If you are visiting Mostar, Taurus is definitely a place to stop to enjoy a drink or better still, some great Dalmatian food.

Taurus, Kriva Cuprija 1.

Tel: (061) 212 617

Open: 11 am – midnight.

Burek in Bayswater


When I was in Sarajevo, a Slovene friend text me to instruct me I must do two things, buy some fake designer clothes/accessories (which, as I had been travelling for a month and had already accumulated rather a lot of luggage along the way, I did not do) and to eat some Burek (which I did with pleasure).  I tend to tell people, I only go on holiday for the food, and to an extent, that really is true.  The relaxation, the adventure, the shopping, the culture, the people, all come a firm second place to potential culinary exploration.

Sarajevo is a very beautiful city, although my first experience there was encountering a man try to pickpocket me while I got onto the tram at the train station.  However, as many Bosnians speak English, after me announcing what he had tried to do to a packed tram of locals, he promptly got up and left before we departed the train station for the centre of town.  I stayed just off Pigeon Square, right in the thick of it, surrounded by mosques and their minarets and the constant smells of baked bread and grilled meats.

One lunchtime I sat myself down at a restaurant on one of the main roads in the Old Town, not far from Pigeon Square.  I diligently ordered a meat and a salty cheese and spinach burek.  Both were delicious.  Burek is made from a baked or fried pastry and can have various fillings.  Sweet versions are also on offer.


Some months ago, while walking in Notting Hill, I noticed a sign on a window which read, “Burek £2.60”.  Manzara, a small restaurant on Pembridge Road in Notting Hill, looks nothing more than a small pizzeria and patisserie, but the delights inside are something to indulge in on a Saturday afternoon after searching the treasure trove of Portobello Market.  A few weeks ago, we had some rather lovely weather one weekend and as, for once, I had little to do, I popped down to Notting Hill to investigate the burek on offer.


A generous portion of spinach and cheese burek from Manzara, 24 Pembridge Road in Notting Hill, costs just £2.60.

This restaurant is actually Turkish, (burek comes from the Ottoman Empire which is why it is popular in both Turkey and Bosnia), and while I cannot speak for the rest of the menu (although the food does look good when you walk in) the burek is delicious.  Unfortunately, they currently only offer spinach and cheese burek, and although the cheese is not quite as salty as the one I tasted in Sarajevo, it is perfect to munch on either wandering the streets, at home (if you can wait that long) or in their, fully-licensed, small, restaurant.

About Charlotte

Charlotte Jones
Charlotte Jones

I was born in Surrey, raised in Hampshire, but now reside in Bayswater, in London. My interest in history and passion for Eastern Europe developed when, at the age of nine, I read Judith Kerr’s novel ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’. After spending many summer holidays in Slovenia, I studied much Russian history at A Level, and then went on to attain an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in East European History from UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies.  During my vacation periods I enjoyed travelling throughout this incredible region and to date have visited: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovenia and Germany. I am currently learning to speak Russian and will study my Masters in East European History on a part-time basis from autumn 2009.

I love food and all things cultural, particularly East European.  I write feature articles for Anglomania, a sport, culture, fashion magazine and work as an editorial assistant for Glam Media UK.  I have previously worked for, Emap, Conde Nast, The Telegraph and The Sun.

In this blog I am indulging my love of Eastern Europe, and utilising the web I shall tell tales of my travels, and impart my knowledge of the region’s culture, history and food.

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