The traditional Albanian cuisine, costumes, culture and the hospitality that characterizes Albanians, originate from ancient countries in Europe, lying on the Border between East and West. As a result, the traces of culture and culinary arts are oriental and occidental. The favorable climate allows the cultivation of nearly all kinds of agricultural product. There is a rich variety of vegetables and fruits, which are consumed raw, in dishes, with meat or conserved.
A number of dishes are prepared in the same manner by using different ingredients. This categories of dishes are found among all Balkan’s people, such as stew (fërgesë), casseroles (tava), pickles, stuffed grape leaves (japrak), beefsteak, etc.
Characteristic of all dishes in our country is that the ingredients keep their natural features, color, and aroma.
People individually have kept their antique culinary traditions and also have improved it with the culinary experience taken from others.
1.Albanian cuisine in the Northern Region
The cold climate of the region enables each family to have food that last for a long time, such as: pastërma (dried meat), mash ( trahana ), pasta ( jufka ), etc., and they are prepared during the summer in order to provide food for the winter season. All the dishes we mentioned above are homemade and you can find them in every house in the north.
Among the most often used vegetables in the kitchen are: beans, potatoes, cabbage, ingredients that are used in different delicious dishes. Onion and garlic are very present. They are tied in strings and dried, a tradition of the northern regions, so that they are available throughout the year.
Shkoder’s cuisine takes a special place with popular dishes such as: “Çorba Shkodrane”.
With the region being rich in water resources, both salty and not, fishing is a tradition that dates back to the Illyrians. What makes the region stand out is not only its abundance in fish but also the traditional way they are cooked. The most well-known are crap and fish juice (krapi me lëng), extremely delicious, dried sardines, etc..
Talking about the region, one cannot help but mention the district of Lezha and the surrounding lagoons rich in sea-fowl and wild animals, like: duck, goose, woodcock, pheasant, wild hare, etc..
The climate is suited for growing the plum of Dibra, apple, cherry, nut, walnut etc,. A special fruit of this region is the pomegranate of Shkodra, big sweet and juicy.
2.Albanian cuisine in the Southern Region
This area of the country is well known for the breeding of livestock. The variety of livestock grown organically are the source of milk to make the dairy products. The characteristic dairy farms, especially in Gjirokaster and Delvine, are known for the production of various kind of cheese, of great taste. Cheese is a very important item in the menu for the inhabitants of this region, but also Central Albania and beyond.
Climate in the coastal area favors the cultivation of olives and citrus. In every home as well as the restaurants of the region, olives are served as appetizers whether alone as a salad or accompanied by other vegetables. Characteristic for this region is the “raki” made from the grape varieties in several cities. In the village of Labove in Gjirokastra, excavations have accidentally brought to surface two stones shaped like washtubs used in earlier times for the crushing of grapes. The liquid would pass through a narrow canal in the stone, and would undergo further processing to become wine or raki. These discovered objects are evidence of the tradition of viticulture in antiquity, when wine is said to have been as water.
In Pogradec people produce raki and wine in their houses, and almost all make wine according to recipes handed down from one generation to the other. Wine is kept in barrels in the basement.
In the southwestern part of the country lies the Albanian Riviera, where the clean mountain air blends with the warmth of the sea, making it the choice among the tourist destinations in Albania. It is preferred not only for the wonderful climate but also for the delicious food. The road to the Riviera is full of restaurants that prepare fresh fish or seafood dishes. The taste of shrimp, cuttlefish, squid, and mussels is memorable. The Pass of Llogara, being the only land passage to the Riviera, is an area where the visitors stop by to rest, but also can try the dishes of the region, such as the roasted meat on a spit (mish i pjekur ne hell), the insides of a lamb, jelly honey and walnuts (pelte me mjalte e arra), etc..
Meat in this region is the most tasteful in the country.
3.Albanian cuisine in the Central Region
The diversity of animal species grown biologically in the region, is augmented by the diversity of domestic birds ( turkey ) and sea-fowl (goose, duck and duckling).
The area of the forest of Divjaka, which lies on the Adriatic shore, is live with wild birds and animals like: duck, wild goose and wild boar. Fishing is a significant activity given that a number of fish species migrate from the sea, such as: sole, bass, flat fish, eel and mullet. Traps are set up in the canals linking the lagoon with the sea to catch them. The Albanian or foreign visitors, who come to relax amidst the nature of the area, ought not to miss the variety of fresh fish dishes offered by the local restaurants. The suitable land and climate promote the growing of all kinds of fruits and vegetables used in the whole country. Among particular fruits of the region are berries like cornel, etc
Traditional dishes include: dried de-stoned plum casserole ( tavë me pistil ), Elbasani yogurt dish ( tavë kosi Elbasani ), Tirana stew ( fërgesë Tiranse ), etc..
A special dessert is ballokume, characteristic crumpet of the town of Elbasan, prepared by local homemakers. and it is mainly cooked for the celebration of Summer Day (on March 14), but also family feasts.
The region is known for making raki, wine (based on the variety of the grapes that are harvested), fruit juice, preserves etc,.
Berat has the largest plantations of figs in the Balkans. Here the locals have a tradition in the preparation of fig preserve and fig jam.
The area of Myzeqe is known for raising turkey and a paricular dish called turkey with mash (gjel deti me pershesh). This dish is prepared in all the regions of the country, but it is more delicious in this area. Local restaurants serve it too.