Food before politics: Kosovan Tavë Prizreni

Kosovo’s status as a country is somewhat contentious. After claiming independence from Serbia in 2008, it is only partially recognised within the United Nations (43% of the member states don’t acknowledge it as an independent state). Still, that’s 57% of member states that do recognise it, so as far as we were concerned, that was enough to justify making a Kosovan dish. However, a nine-year-old country doesn’t exactly have a traditional national dish. Due to historical and ethnic connections with Albania (see, this just gets more complicated), Kosovan cuisine has been particularly influenced by Albanian cuisine. We haven’t yet made a dish from Albania so we didn’t want to accidentally make Albania’s national dish for Kosovo!

Fortunately, we stumbled upon tavë prizreni, which translates to Plate of Prizren, Prizren being a Kosovan city. This seemed like the closest thing to a national dish that we were going to find, so Friday’s dinner menu was decided! It was impossible to find a recipe in English, though, so we turned to Google Translate, which is always fun: we had to decipher such instructions as ‘put the mass of the pizza into the pan’ and ingredients like ‘lacquered and cropped tomatoes’. We think that our recipe below is a pretty accurate version of the original dish, but if we have any Kosovan readers, please do set us straight if we’re wrong!

Tavë prizreni

4 onions, chopped
Cooking oil (we now realise that the recipe said 1/2 cup butter – a bit of cooking oil was just fine though!)
500g peppers, chopped
3 tomatoes, diced
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 cups natural yoghurt
2 tbsp flour
4 eggs
1 cup grated cheese

1. Heat some oil in a large frying pan and add the onions and peppers. Cook until softened.
2. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.
3. Add the salt and parsley, and again cook for a few minutes.
4. Put this mixture into a baking dish.
5. In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the flour and yoghurt and mix well. Pour this over the vegetables in the baking dish.
6. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.
7. Bake for 45 minutes at 120C. (Optional: we then put it under a hot grill for a few minutes to brown the cheese more>)
Serves 4 (we served with rice)

1014a Cooking veg compressed

1015a With extras compressed

1016a Veg in dish compressed

1017a Topping compressed

1018a Cooked tave prizreni compressed

1019 Tave prizreni

Despite concerns about a fairly basic list of ingredients, we enjoyed this! Our more carnivorous sides felt that it might have been better with some bacon or similar, but conceded that it certainly wasn’t necessary. The vegetables tasted as you’d expect, and whilst it’s hard to describe the texture of the topping, I suppose you could say it was kind of like a mix of a set custard and cottage cheese. And melted cheese is always a good thing! It wasn’t an exciting dish, exactly, but it was easy to make and used ingredients that we almost always have in stock, so it might make it into the repertoire for a midweek meal.

Next, we’ll be returning to the Caribbean with a dish from Montserrat, that is going to be very different from this one!

5 thoughts on “Food before politics: Kosovan Tavë Prizreni

  1. The tave Prizreni most people from the city know is the one made with bamije or Okra, tomatoes, onions, sometimes aubergine too and meat cooked in an earthenware dish, this looks nothing like it at all I am sorry to say, all I can say is make Kosovan friends and you may get to try some real specialities such as Flija which in my opinion is The National dish.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Kosovogirl! We don’t know anyone who is Kosovan unfortunately so just had to go with the recipe we found online – we do try to pick the most authentic-looking recipes we can, but must have missed the mark on this occasion. I’ll have a look at flija too.

  2. i made this yesterday, nice flavor. i added chicken breasts, since my husband and son like meat and often frown upon my vegetarian cooking, and it was delicious. thanks for the recipe, i have never tried tave prizreni, even though kosovo and macedonia are neighbouring countries. although, my mother makes a dish with similar egg-yogurt layer. she roasts a leg of lamb and when it is almost finished, she pours the egg-yogurt mixture around it and returns it to the oven. it’s delicious.

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