Monday, January 14, 2013
Around the world - Stopover 26 - Montenegro
Montenegro was drawn out of the hat the week before Christmas which feels like such a long time ago now. I managed to research, plan and cook up a meal during the chaos of the silly season although I haven't had the chance to post about it until now. Montenegro is a small European country located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea which shares borders with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania. Montenegrin cuisine varies depending on the region, the coastal areas have a Mediterranean influence whereas inland regions consume dishes that are also common in Turkey, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia.
When I made a version of Bosnian Zeljanica with filo pastry during Vegan Mofo, I mentioned that I would have liked the opportunity to attempt making burek pastry if I had more time on my hands. Even though time was limited again on this occasion, I stubbornly wanted to give a Montenegrin burek called krompirusa a try. Krompirusa is a snail shaped burek filled with finely cubed potatoes and onions that have been precooked in vegetable stock.
The recipes I adapted my version from were written in Serbian or Croatian and with the aid of Google translate it still was a challenge to make complete sense of the ingredients and methods. My long bench top was an essential tool in preparing the krompirusa and even though I split the dough into two pieces to make smaller bureks, the length of the pastry measured just under 2 metres! After the lengths of dough were rolled out, filling and shaping the krompirusa didn't take much time at all.
As I wasn't sure how flavoursome the filling would be, I searched for an accompaniment and decided to make a dip/relish based on roasted red capsicum/bell peppers called ajvar. It wasn't incredibly complicated to make although it wasn't the speediest process either as the vegetables needed to be oven roasted and onion and garlic sautéed prior to processing it all into a paste.
After all the effort that went into the meal I wasn't impressed with the texture of pastry as it wasn't light and flaky as you would expect from a burek so I'm back to the drawing board with this type of dough. Regardless of the unsatisfactory pastry, the krompirusa tasted fantastic and was surprisingly delicious on it's own. The ajvar was a fantastic partner for the krompirusa and would be perfect to serve alongside a bunch of other dips so I've included my version of it below.
Ajvar (Adapted from Todd's wanderings)
3 small red capsicums/bell peppers
1 lebanese eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 240C. Place the capsicums and eggplant on a roasting tray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the skins have charred. Flip the vegetables over and bake for a further 10-15 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and when they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins from the capsicum and eggplant and discard the seeds and membranes from the capsicums.
While the vegetables are roasting, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small frying pan and sauté the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute then turn off the heat and set aside.
Place the cooked eggplants and capsicum in a food processor along with the onion/garlic mixture, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, salt, remaining tablespoon of olive oil and black pepper. Process until it becomes a smooth paste, then transfer to a serving dish.
Did you know?
The Montenegrin people are reportedly the world's tallest. The average height for males is 186 cm (6 feet, 1 inch) and the average for women is 171 cm (5 feet, 7 inches).