Bringing A Part of My Culture to You – Dina Sara Custo ’27

Hello dear international students,

Recently I thought about home quite a bit and about some things that remind me of it. Those things can be as simple as getting coffee in my favorite coffee shop or saying hi to my 92-year old neighbor. It can also be seeing old friends and realizing that nothing has changed the friendship even though a lot of time has passed. Or even going to your favorite bookstore and checking out the new selection of books and being excited, yet also being comforted that certain selections have not changed almost as if they somehow knew they are a sense of safety for you. Whatever these things may be, they always remind me of home and how grateful I am for all of the “little things.”

Then I started to wonder how I can bring that part of myself to campus. Unfortunately, I cannot bring my dear neighbor nor the entire bookstore. What I can do instead is bring some recipes from home that can introduce you to my culture and through that you can learn more about it. I picked recipes that are fairly easy to make so that you are able to make them in your dorm with your friends or with ingredients that are simple to find 🙂

I will share three different recipes – an appetizer, a main meal and a dessert. 

The appetizer is bread and I chose this recipe because in Bosnia there are many different types of bread and it is one of the most popular foods. You can find it in all shapes and sizes and at almost every corner of the street there will be a bakery or a supermarket that sells bread. My favorite bread is called “pogaca.” The ingredients you will need are:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • ½ a cup of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • A dash of salt
  • 4 cups of flour

When you have all of your ingredients, first separate the yolk from the egg whites. Then mix in the yolk with the yogurt, oil, baking powder, salt and flour. Use a mixer to mix the egg whites and afterwards mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Leave the dough to rest for an hour to two hours. Afterwards, place it in the oven at 400F degrees for 50 minutes. We usually eat this dish with some meats such as salami, prosciutto or pancetta or some spreads such as sour cream, butter or cream cheese so I recommend you serve it with some of those 🙂

The next dish is the main dish and it is called “burek.” This dish has been in my country’s history for hundreds of years and you can also buy it in almost every city/ town in the country. Additionally, many families make it for holidays or special occasions. It is a savory pie filled with meat. It is important to note that there are many savory pies in my country though and their fillings are also cheese, spinach, potatoes, … The ingredients you need for this dish are:

  • 0.5kg of ground beef
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 200g of butter
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 2 packs of pie crust

First, melt the butter in the microwave. As the butter melts, chop the onion into small pieces and grate the potatoes. Once you finish that, mix it with the ground beef. Subsequently, add the butter into the mix and also some salt and pepper. Turn on the oven and put it to 405 F degrees. Additionally, take a tray and put a little bit of oil all over the pan. Now take out the pie crusts and flatten them. Afterwards, put some oil on them until they soften and then start putting the mixture on the left side of the crust. Roll the crust from the left side to the right and then put it into the tray. Repeat this process until you use up your pie crusts. Put the tray into the oven and bake for 50 minutes.

One last tip is that this dish is best enjoyed with a traditional drink called “kefir.” You can get this in a Balkan supermarket in Astoria, New York City or order from their website. If you want some help with finding it please let me know 🙂

The dessert portion is called “cokoladna torta” and it is not a traditional dessert, but it is a dessert my mom often makes and it represents home from me. Additionally, we got the recipe, from a very close family friend, which makes the recipe even more meaningful. The ingredients you need are:

  • 6 eggs
  • 200 grams of sugar
  • 200 grams of butter
  • 100 grams of walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 100 grams of chocolate

To make the cake, you have to separate the egg whites from the yolks. First, mix the yolk with the sugar, butter, walnuts, cocoa and chocolate. Afterwards, mix the egg whites with a mixer and then slowly add them to the rest of the ingredients. Then, put the cake into the oven to bake at 405F degrees for 50 minutes. As you can probably tell this cake is really easy to make or as my mom likes to say “the easiest recipe ever to make for guests when you are in a hurry.”

Thank you for reading these recipes that remind me of home. I feel grateful to bring a small piece of it to you.

Dina Sara

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