Food in Montenegro

Some world cuisines need no introduction. Italian? 4 or 5 dishes immediately spring to mind. Chinese? All the stereotypical images of Asian food you can muster. Turkish fast-food joints adorn every main street in Europe and beyond, meaning we are well-versed in kebab culture. Even the Brits have their culinary cliches.

But Montenegro? Erm…..

When visiting a food market or busy restaurant in Montenegro, at first glance, the piles of fresh fruit and vegetables will catch your eye. But the hearty, flavourful meat dishes are truly the essence of Montenegrin cuisine. If you don’t eat meat, don’t worry, as there are plenty of alternatives, swapping out meat for vegetables, potatoes and even cheese is not uncommon in Montenegro!

Here are 8 of the most famous dishes you need to sample when in Montenegro:

Njeguski prsut Go Sail Montenegro

Njeguški pršut

This delicacy originates from the village of Njeguši in Montenegro. It’s made from carefully selected pork legs that are salt cured, dried, and smoked for over two months. The result is a tender, flavourful ham with a slightly smoky aroma. Njeguški pršut is often enjoyed thinly sliced as an appetizer accompanied by local cheeses and olives, or in Njeguški Steak (see below). This prosciutto is certainly a highlight of Montenegrin cuisine.

Njeguški Steak (Njeguški Biftek):

Njeguški Steak (Njeguški Biftek): Njeguški steak is a delicious specialty, also originating from the village of Njeguši in Montenegro’s mountainous region (how can one village influence so much of one nation’s cuisine?). It is traditionally a folded veal schnitzel, stuffed with Njeguški pršut (see above) and local cheeses, then grilled over an open flame. Served with grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes, Njeguški steak is known for its rich flavour, tender texture, and the smoky aroma produced by the grilling process.

ĆEVAPI

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These small, grilled skinless sausages are the Balkan version of the Turkish kebab experience. Chefs season the mixture of minced meat (typically beef or lamb) with garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper before shaping it into small sausage-like portions. They then grill the sausages until charred on the outside but juicy on the inside. Ćevapi are often served with flatbread, chopped onions, and a side of fresh crunchy tomato and cucumber salad.

BUREK

Versions of this dish exist across the Middle East, Balkan region, and Central Asia. Burek is a beloved pastry meal found throughout the former Yugoslav countries, including Montenegro. It consists of thin layers of filo pastry filled with various savory fillings, typically meat, but you can find burek filled with cheese, spinach, or even potatoes. Chefs roll out the dough thinly, layer it with the filling, then roll it into a spiral or fold it into a cone shape before baking it until golden and crispy. People often enjoy burek as a snack, breakfast dish, or light meal, and it’s commonly served with yogurt or ajvar (roasted red pepper relish) on the side.

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Black Risotto (Crni Rižot):

Black risotto is a specialty dish on Montenegro’s coastline, particularly in towns like Kotor and Budva. It obtains its distinctive black color from squid ink, which chefs add to the risotto along with a variety of seafood such as squid, mussels, clams, or shrimp. They cook the dish slowly, allowing the flavors to meld together and the rice to absorb the rich, briny essence of the seafood and squid ink. Chefs often garnish black risotto with fresh herbs like parsley or basil. It gives you a very special hue on your teeth afterward as well!

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Palačinke

Palačinke are thin, crepe-like pancakes that are popular throughout Montenegro.

People can enjoy them as a sweet or savory treat, depending on the filling and toppings used. Sweet palačinke often contain Nutella, jam, fruit compote, or sweet cheese filling, while savory varieties may include cheese, ham, spinach, mushrooms, or a combination of ingredients.

Pancakes are hardly a Montenegro invention, but it’s the homemade jam filling that truly makes them worth sampling here.

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Riblja čorba

This traditional fish soup is a favourite all along Montenegro’s Adriatic coast. Purists say that the only authentic version of this soup is made by simmering a variety of freshwater fish (such as carp, trout, or perch), NOT sea fish, with vegetables such as onions, carrots, and potatoes in a broth, seasoned with herbs and spices. The result is a rich and aromatic soup that people often enjoy with a squeeze of lemon and a side of crusty bread.

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Kacamak

This hearty dish is a staple in Montenegrin cuisine, especially in the mountainous regions. Montenegrins make it by boiling mashed potatoes and cornmeal together until thick and creamy. Then, they stir in cheese, often a local variety like kajmak or feta.

They typically serve kacamak hot with a dollop of butter or cream. They accompany it with smoked meat, such as prosciutto or sausage. This combination makes it a comforting and satisfying meal, especially during the colder months.

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