It’s impossible to speak of Macedonian cuisine without speaking of Tavce Gravce, the actual Macedonian national dish. It’s a staple best for those Fridays at home especially seeing that most Macedonians are Orthodox Christian and as such, their Friday meals should not have any meat in them. This would explain why the Tavce Gravce holds so much importance in the Macedonian cuisine and Macedonian culture generally.
What is Tavce Gravce?
Tavce Gravce is a dish made from white kidney beans. Usually, they’re baked on a local skillet refered to as Tava and in the preparation, the beans are mixed with other different vegetables. Sometimes, sausages or pork ribs are added on the side.
The Tavce Gravce is a great dish for winter and makes for a great comfort food too. It’s also a great option for vegetarians and vegans because you can choose to prepare this dish with no meat. In any case, should you prefer to order this dish from a restaurant knowing that you are a vegan, make sure you carefully check how it’s served or delivered first before you make your order.
How the Tavce Gravce is made
Traditionally, the preparation of the Tavce Grave involves three steps that include soaking the kidney beans in some water overnight although if you’re pressed for time, you could just soak them for three hours.
The second step involves boiling your beans in some water alongside the other vegetables you prefer to use as part of your recipe for about two to three hours over medium heat.
The third step once your food is boiled is pouring the boiled mixture in a skillet and cooking it using a wooden oven for about two hours or even more until it’s no longer in liquid form.
The history of the Tavce Gravce
The Tavce Gravce which is the Macedonian national dish has an origin that dates back to the 15th Century. It rose to popularity within a very short time as the perfect dish to serve on a Friday evening or during the Nativity and during the fasting period of the Great Lent. In fact, this tradition of eating the Tavce Gravce on Fridays has been carried forward to this day.
The dish was traditionally prepared with the kidney beans from Tetovo. They specifically used these beans because they’re known to be some of the finest in the entire Balkan Peninsula region.
The traditional method of preparation involved baking these beans on a traditional style wooden oven which was known to give the dish that extra flavor but over time, the recipe has been changed around to suit the needs and wants of modern people considering how limited their time usually is because of their day-to-day hustles. If you were to use the traditional method of preparation, it would take you a whole day to prepare the Tavce Gravce if you were to go the traditional way.
Today, you have the option of using canned beans which will significantly decrease the preparation time for your dish although you should realize that with canned beans, the taste will be different from the taste you get when you boil the beans yourself.
How to serve the Tavce Gravce
The Tavce Gravce is best served on a clay dish that will give you that nice, rustic appearance. It also makes your dish even tastier. Macedonians like to eat the dish alongside some pork ribs, pleskavika, or even zelnik except on Fridays but if you’re a vegetarian, you could simply eat it with some white bread.
This is definitely an interesting dish that you should try out some time. You don’t even have to visit Macedonia as there are recipes for it available on the internet.