Once part of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Kosovo is mostly populated by Albanians, therefore the national gastronomy borrows from these two cultures as well as Turkish, Greek and Italian. Kosovo is one of Europe's poorest countries, therefore meals are hearty and nutritious, often consisting of meat and potatoes or rice. Despite there being plenty of fresh water around the country, it is not usual to eat fish.
Pork is not commonly eaten, but chicken, beef and lamb are. Meat is often grilled. Minced meat is mixed with rice and stuffed in cabbage or vine leaves, or stuffed into pastry to make patties known a "pljeskavica." Meat is also cooked on skewers over charcoal, and smoked beef is typical too. Due to its location, Kosovo's cuisine shares many similarities to both Middle Eastern and Russian food. "Burjan" is a dish of baked rice and spinach, often served with pieces of lamb, that is similar to the Middle Eastern "borani."
Vegetables are seasonal and are often pickled so as to keep longer. "Tursija" is popular dish of peppers stuffed with cheese, cabbage and tomato; it is eaten as an accompaniment rather than a main meal. Pastes are often made from vegetables to serve with other foods, such as the spicy "hajvar" made with peppers or the milder "pinxhur," made from eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.
Pastries are perhaps the national dish, from layers of thin pancakes served with cheese, yoghurt and honey to little pastries stuffed with meat. Spinach and cheese pies, similar to Greek "spanakopita," are also common, made with two layers of pastry. Puff pastry made from cornflour is another speciality.
Middle Eastern "baklava," which is pastry drizzled with almond syrup and rose water, is a common dessert, as is "shequerpare," a coin-shaped pastry topped with sherbet. It is also usual to end a meal by eating fresh fruit, like berries, quince, watermelon and cherries.
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