What's Cooking in... Montenegro

By Sandra Scott
This item appears on page 59 of the January 2013 issue.

A few years ago, John and I were in Montenegro, which is a new name for an old country. Montenegro was once part of Yugoslavia and then in union with Serbia, but in 2006 it declared its independence. Today tourism along the coast is developing rapidly, with many new high-rise hotels being built.

We stayed at one such hotel, The Queen of Montenegro (Ul. Narodnog fronta bb, BečIć/Budva 85310, Montenegro; phone +382 33 662 662 or fax 33 662 633), where we paid $150 per night, including breakfast.

We happened upon these folk singers practicing in a restaurant in Budva,  Montenegro. Photo: Sandra Scott

The iconic image in the town of Budva is that of Stari Grad, the old fortress city on the edge of the Adriatic that is like a mini Dubrovnik. We loved wandering the narrow streets of the Old City and were enchanted when we heard beautiful singing of what sounded like traditional songs.

We followed the music to a side street, where a group of ladies in traditional costume were practicing for an event they were going to sing at later that day. We really enjoyed the interlude.

During our walks along the beach, which is the main draw in Budva, we passed a number of shops and restaurants. We were there during October and there were very few tourists.

As it was not the busy season, the hotel’s executive chef, Jovo Medin, was willing to show us how to make muckalica, a local favorite. Though the food of Montenegro has been influenced over the centuries by the Italians, Turks and many other nationalities, muckalica is a traditional recipe that shows the Serbian influence in Montenegro. It is a great way to use leftover meat.

There was no cost, on our part, for the lesson. We have found that chefs are proud of their work and, when not busy, are happy to offer a complimentary demonstration.

½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp black pepper
¹⁄8 tsp crushed red pepper
¹⁄8 tsp dry mustard
1½ lb cooked meat, cubed (veal, pork or beef)
1 tsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ cup water
3 medium onions, diced
1 medium tomato, cubed
1 medium green pepper, diced
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp paprika

Heat oil in skillet. Add water, onions, tomatoes, green pepper, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, red pepper and dry mustard. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add cubed cooked meat. Simmer for 15 minutes more, sprinkle with parsley and serve with bread, rice, noodles or potatoes.