Hands up who knows where Bulgaria is? In case you’re like me and your knowledge of Bulgaria begins and ends with a certain Womble called Uncle, then here’s a map for you.
So, when Expedia asked me if I’d take part in their World on a Plate Challenge and cook something from Bulgaria, although I had no idea if Bulgarians ate nothing but fried newt eyes and worm feet, I agreed.
I probably should have checked Google before agreeing to take part in the challenge but I found out that Bulgarian food is practically the same as Turkish food (which isn’t surprising as, as you can see from the map, Turkey is only down the road from Bulgaria) and Turkish food is one of my favourite cuisines. Yay halloumi. Yay hummus. Yay falafel. Yay those spinach and feta triangle pastry things.
One dish I came across frequently while looking for vegetarian Bulgarian inspiration was stuffed aubergines or, as it’s more commonly known in Bulgaria – Imam Bayaldy (and as with hummus, there are various variations on the spelling so don’t moan at me if I didn’t use your preferred spelling).
As this was supposed to be a challenge, I decided I should probably serve the stuffed aubergines with something more adventurous (and more Bulgarian) than plain boiled potatoes and peas, so I accompanied the stuffed aubergines with Bulgarian potatoes au gratin (which Google informs me is also called ‘ogreten’ which sounds more Bulgarian than ‘au gratin’ which sounds distinctly French to me and, according to my map, France is nowhere near Bulgaria).
Unfortunately, The Meat Eater wasn’t keen on either of these dishes and found them a bit bland. I reckon this was because he’d caught the lurgy I’d had recently, because I found the potatoes creamy and tangy, and the stuffed aubergines were – well, stuffed aubergines, which are always nice, but I’ll admit they could have been tastier.
You can find the original recipe for the Bulgarian stuffed aubergines here and the original recipe for the Bulgarian potatoes au gratin here. As usual, the recipes below are my adaptations, using ingredients I have to hand/can find in the supermarket and simplified to suit my cooking methods/laziness.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 large aubergine
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp parsley
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and fry gently for about 5 minutes, until soft.
- Meanwhile, cut the aubergine in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, leaving the skins intact.
- Chop the aubergine flesh and add to the onions and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, carrot, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Stuff the aubergine skins with the onion mixture, place in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.
- Cook for 20-30 minutes.
- 450g cottage cheese
- 50g butter, melted
- 3 medium potatoes, sliced ⅛" thick
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup Greek yoghurt
- salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
- Lightly grease an ovenproof dish with butter or oil.
- In a blender or food processor (I used a hand blender), puree cheese until as smooth as possible.
- Add the butter, salt and pepper and blend in thoroughly.
- Lay one-third of the potatoes in the ovenproof dish and top with one-third of the cheese mixture. Lay down another third of potatoes and cheese, followed by the last third.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake until the potatoes are tender, about 1- 11/2 hours.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and yoghurt and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour over the potatoes and bake, uncovered, until the topping is puffy, golden and set, about 20-30 minutes.
Check out these other vegetarian Expedia World on a Plate recipes from my fellow bloggers:
Simple Fig Jam from Fab Food 4 All
Plum, Apple and Almond Tarte Tatin from Foodie Quine
Quick and Easy Creamy Mushroom Pasta from The Hedge Combers
Olive, Garlic, Halloumi, Spelt Bread – Eliopsomi from Tin and Thyme
This post was sponsored by Expedia World on a Plate.