There are few things in the world that can connect nations as far apart as India and Bulgaria the way cuisine does. Having visited Sofia last winter, my daughter returned home with a great deal of memorable experiences, and some of the best of them involved food.
With a tumultuous history of invasions, Bulgaria was at one point a Turkish conquest, and this, in my opinion, could be a reason for its intensely kebab- and dairy-laden cuisine. Yogurt figures significantly in the dairy aspect, and the Bulgarians attribute their famed longevity to the Lactobacillus bulgaricus culture in it. Perhaps because of the common stage of Middle Eastern invasion in both Bulgarian and Indian history, the food of both countries seem to complement each other very well; a great example of this is the Bulgarian dish tikvitchki, literally zucchini, which would serve as a wonderful dish alongside mutton curry. My daughter smuggled this recipe back from her hosts in Sofia just in time for our hot Indian summer, where it makes for cooling, yet far from bland fare.
- 4 1/4 cups dahi / greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp water
- 3/4 cup shepu (dill), finely chopped
- 2 tbsps chopped garlic
300 gms zucchini, cut into round slices
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup vegetable or olive oil
3/4 cup flour
Pinch of salt
Pepper to season
In a large mixing bowl combine the yogurt and the water to a smooth yet firm consistency. Add the dill and the garlic and mix well.Chill.
Sprinkle the lemon juice over the zucchini and set aside for 5 minutes.Meanwhile heat 1/3 of the oil in a nonstick frying pan. (Check heat level by popping a mustard seed).
Mix flour with the salt. Lightly coat a handful of the zucchini slices with the flour on both sides. Fry for a few minutes on each side till light brown.They should not be soggy but retain some bite.Remove with slotted spoon.Repeat till all slices are done.
Let fried slices cool.
In a serving dish alternate layers of the yogurt mixture with layers of fried zucchini.Garnish with a sprig of dill and freshly ground pepper.