Taste Ljubljana: typical Ljubljana dishes

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Ljubljana lunch

Ljubljana lunch

The typical Ljubljana lunch was established in the 19th century, when on Saturdays and Sundays, citizens started to take lunch at the suburban inns or prepare it in their homes. The composition of this lunch has been preserved until today and still presents a classic of family gatherings at week-ends. Today it is available in a number of restaurants and inns and consists of the most common dishes of the Ljubljana residents, as they were eaten in the past:
 - beef soup with noodles or the so-called “bleki” (popular hand-made, square-shaped pasta)
 - pražen krompir (sautéed potatoes),
 - cooked beef tail or other part of beef from the soup, side dish to meat: apple or creamed
horseradish
 - lamb's lettuce salad with hard-boiled eggs
 - cottage cheese pancakes with tarragon or apple strudel

Beef soup with noodles © T. Jeseničnik

Beef soup with noodles

In Ljubljana, the same as in many other places, soup has also always been considered an obligatory part of a decent lunch, and sometimes also of dinner. In the 19th and early 20th century, pasta, e.g. noodles was also stirred into a clear beef soup. At that time, beef soup also gained the distinction of being a staple Saturday or a Sunday lunch dish; it was consumed by all social groups and became a distinctive status symbol.

Pražen krompir (sautéed potatoes) © T. Jeseničnik

Pražen krompir (sautéed potatoes)

As the most common and popular manner of preparing potatoes all over Slovenia, sautéed potatoes are also a regular feature of family Sunday and holiday lunches and of the offerings of restaurants and inns. This is such a popular dish in Slovenia that in 2002, a Society for the Recognition of Sautéed Potato as an Independent Dish was founded in Ljubljana. The society has their own anthem, a potato field and every year they organise a World Festival of Sautéed Potatoes.

Vodnik lamb's lettuce salad © T. Jeseničnik

Vodnik lamb's lettuce salad

The recipes for different salads appeared initially in the first cookbook ever written in Slovenian, which was published in 1799 by the poet and intellectual Valentin Vodnik. At the time, salads as a manner of healthy eating were not really established. The lamb's lettuce salad with hard-boiled eggs is probably the most distinctive Ljubljana salad.

Ljubljana cottage cheese pancakes with tarragon © T. Jeseničnik

Ljubljana cottage cheese pancakes with tarragon

Inspired by the cuisine of our Hungarian and Austrian neighbours, Slovenians made pancakes a part of our national gastronomic heritage. However, throughout the decades we have added a few of our own creative variations to them. Therefore, especially on Fridays, the families in Ljubljana prepare pancakes filled with cottage cheese and tarragon. It is tarragon (Latin Artemisia dracunculus) that gives the pancakes a special taste and this very popular herb is used in Slovenia mainly for preparing different sweet dishes.

Frogs' legs © T. Jeseničnik

Frogs' legs

Frogs' legs, roasted or breaded and fried, are considered an old culinary speciality of Ljubljana. The frogs from the nearby Ljubljana Marshes were widely available in the past. Today frogs in Slovenia are, of course, protected, but the menus of some inns and restaurants in the city still offer frogs' legs, which they import from abroad. The most famous ones can be enjoyed at the Pri žabarju restaurant.

Chicken legs and wings – “leteči žganci” (flying žganci) © T. Jeseničnik

Chicken legs and wings – “leteči žganci” (flying žganci)

The workers in the city port in the 17th century really loved to eat fried and roasted chicken legs and wings, which they humorously named “leteči žganci” (flying žganci). Žganci (buckwheat, barley, wheat) was a common, everyday dish, mostly due to its affordability at a time of poverty, and thus the fried legs got this funny, even ironic name. Chicken legs and wings still remain a very popular Ljubljana dish today.

Ljubljana goulash © T. Jeseničnik

Ljubljana goulash

The recipe for the Ljubljana goulash was published by different female authors in the 1930s in the United States of America. These recipes are an excellent testament to the practice of staying true to the dietary traditions of the environments from which the Slovenian immigrants arrived to the USA. The special feature of the dishes, the main ingredients of which are beef and onions, is that it is cooked for two hours, which makes the meat especially soft and tasty.

Štruklji © T. Jeseničnik

Štruklji

Štruklji are certainly one of the most typical Slovenian and mainly festive dishes, as different versions are known in all Slovenian regions and are considered one of the most typical ways of expressing hospitality. Rolled so that they form a spiral when seen in cross-section, and made of different types of dough and different fillings, savoury or sweet, they have been established in the city since the 17th century. More than 80 different types of štruklji are known in Slovenia. Štruklji are today very often on the menus of restaurants and inns as a side dish to meat and sauces or independently as a dessert.

Ljubljana štrukelj © T. Jeseničnik

Ljubljana štrukelj

A rolled pastry, made of leavened dough with butter and filled with apricot jam and candied orange peel, is one of the many versions of štrukelj; its recipe was written down back in the 19th century. The recipe for this Ljubljana dessert was published for the first time in Slovenska kuharica (Slovenian Cookbook), where it is still named the “Ljubljana strudel” and later on it received the name “Ljubljana štrukelj”. This is a notable early example of citing the geographical origins of a certain dish.

Ljubljana Cake © T. Jeseničnik

Ljubljana Cake

Ljubljana Cake is an invented tradition; however, it did not emerge as a coincidence but as a result of thorough professional reflection and planning. Ljubljana Cake is made of traditional ingredients, which at the same time illustrate the Slovenian culinary diversity. The tastes of the cake are co-created by chestnuts, almonds, dried figs from the Mediterranean area, pumpkin seeds from the Pannonian region and Slovenian honey. It is prepared exclusively from natural ingredients, without artificial sweeteners and other additives.