Stew or Casserole?
Out of the many traditional dishes to try , the Bulgarian Kavarma has got to be near the top of the popularity list.
Many people like to call the Kavarma a Bulgarian stew, but I believe a stew cooked with heat from underneath, like a stove. A casserole, otherwise is something cooked in an oven with heat coming from all sides.
Wood Fired Cooking
Back in the day, before gas and electric cookers, all meals would have to be cooked on wood fired ovens and stoves. Using the falling heat of an oven, a Kavarma could be left in the pot overnight. As a result, the cooking of cheaper and more affordable cuts of meat, the dish becomes a lovely tasty and tender meal.
The Bulgarian Kavarma would usually be a winter dish, being a warm and hearty meal. But can obviously be eaten whenever the mood takes. I usually have mine with a salad during the summer months.
Many Kavarma dishes prepared according to traditional local recipes have passed down from generation to generation. The different regions and their varied recipes of the Kavarma all add to the diversity of its cuisine.
This Bulgarian Kavarma recipe adapted from the various styles of Kavarma we have eaten at different restaurants around Bulgaria. You can adapt this recipe to suit your tastes too.
Bulgarian Kavarma Recipe
The Bulgarian Kavarma made with pork or chicken in a clay pot called a ‘guveche’ and is a simple and easy dish to make. If you don’t own a clay pot, a cast iron or ceramic casserole dish will be good, but indeed any receptacle with a good lid can be placed in an oven.
800 gms Chicken or Pork.
4 Large Fresh Tomatoes.
4 medium sized Potatoes.
2 medium Onions.
2 cloves Garlic.
250 gms Mushrooms.
2 Red or Green Peppers or 1 of each.
Salt and pepper.
½ cup of Olive oi.l
½ cup red or white wine.
1 teaspoon of paprika.
1-2 teaspoons of Chubritsa ( Bulgarian herb) 1 or 2 tsp herbs of choice instead of Chubritsa.
Feta cheese or any cheese to melt over the top to finish.
Cut the chicken/pork into cubes. Add to dish.
Dice the tomatoes. Add to dish.
Cube the potatoes. Add to dish.
Chop/Dice Onions. Add to dish.
Crush garlic. Add to dish.
Chop /dice mushrooms. Add to dish.
Slice Peppers. Add to the dish.
Add Olive oil, wine, pinch of salt, pepper and herbs to taste.
Stir and Place in warm oven.
Allow to cook for 2 ½-3 hours on 140 c (275 F for our cousins across the pond).
When cooked, place your chosen cheese on top and replace in oven until melted. The dish should not be too dry so check periodically to ensure the dish has some juices. If in doubt add a little water, red or white wine.
Serves 4 or ( 2 people for two nights) great meal for cutting time and cost too
Pitta hearth breads, chips, rice or salad. Garnish with black olives on top for effect and impress your guests.
The Bulgarian kitchen is heavily influenced by Mediterranean cooking. Bulgarians favour the slow cooking of stews and soups