Photo by Sunnia Ko
In Bulgaria, herbivores and carnivores alike can enjoy the delightful and addictive red pepper relish known as lyutenitsa. Made from red peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, sugar, and other spices, a little bit of lyutenitsa can add life to a dry piece of bread or any of the grilled meats so commonly found in the Balkans.
You might have heard of lyutenitsa’s cousin—the ajvar sauce of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, a variety that is more pepper and less tomato. While you can find lyutenitsa (or ajvar, for that matter) at gourmet food shops elsewhere, once you’ve sampled some homemade lyutenitsa, we promise you’ll never go back to the store-bought variety.
Those traveling in Bulgaria should make some local friends and try to get invited over for a taste of lyutenitsa. Barring such an invitation, visitors can also visit an outdoor market and purchase the homemade variety as cooked up by an enterprising grandmother. One jar should be enough to last you weeks and you won’t have to pay more than BGN2 (€1).