The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Serbian Food
Serbian cuisine has many similarities with its bordering countries. The five nations with the most similar food are all located in Europe but were once controlled by the Ottoman Empire. Bread, especially flatbreads, are often served with their meals. These countries also enjoy ajvar, a condiment made primarily from roasted red bell peppers and eggplants.
- Romania is on the eastern border of Serbia. Both predominately Orthodox Christian countries tend to eat a lot of pork and chicken. In addition, various vegetables form the foundation of many traditional dishes. Thesee nations also eat maize porridges and have their own versions of cabbage rolls, called sarmale in Romania and sarma in Serbia.
- Montenegro used to be part of Serbia, until 2006. These countries also speak mutually intelligible languages. Therefore, it is no surprise their food is similar. Grilled meats, hearty stews, and the love for rich and robust flavors are characteristics they have in common. The bean soup, Grah, is one dish that is enjoyed in both countries.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina is another country that borders Serbia and speaks a mutually intelligible language. The Ottoman Empire left a mark on both countries’ food cultures, reflected in dishes like bosanski lonac and prebranac. However, one difference is that the majority of the country is Muslim, so Bosnians eat significantly less pork than Serbians.
- Bulgaria is another Slavic, predominately Orthodox Christian country. Both countries embrace the use of spices, aromatic herbs, and grilled meats. Shopska Salad, made with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and white cheese, is commonly eaten in these nations. Additionally, kavarma, a stew with meat and vegetables, is like Serbian goulash.
- Hungary is on the northern border of Serbia. Although these countries belong to different language and religious groups, their food is similar. Both countries enjoy rich stews, savory pastries, and a love for paprika-spiced dishes. Goulash and lecso are popular stews in Serbia and Hungary.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Serbian Food
Four of the five countries with the least similar food to Serbia are located in Africa. The climate in these countries is also significantly warmer. This affects what type of crops are grown in these countries. Moreover, these countries are much less developed than Serbia. Neither potatoes nor pork are common ingredients in their diets.
- Chad is a landlocked country in the middle of Africa that is mostly Muslim. Sorghum and millet are the two most commonly consumed grains there. These crops are well adapted to the Sahel’s harsh climate. Beef is the most popular meat, but lamb meat is also often eaten there. Peanuts and sesame seeds are also commonly parts of their cuisine.
- Democratic Republic of Congo is mostly rainforest, so its climate is much hotter and humid than Serbia’s. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country. One popular dish is saka-saka, a mix of spinach and cassava leaves. The most commonly eaten meat in Congo is fish, whereas pork and chicken are more popular in Serbia.
- Central African Republic is yet another French-speaking country in Africa on this list. Cassava and yam are two of the most commonly eaten staple ingredients in the country. Furthermore, taro and bananas make up a much greater share of the diet in Central African Republic than in Serbia.
- Cambodia is the only country in Asia on this list. The Cambodian diet is heavily based in rice and cassava. Unlike in Serbia, Cambodian cuisine makes use lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, to create a unique flavor profile. Furthermore, many of the country’s Buddhists avoid eating meat.
- South Sudan is a landlocked country in Africa. Cassava accounts for the largest part of the country’s diet, however South Sudanese eat their share of sorghum as well. Beef is the most commonly consumed meat in the South Sudan, while pork and chicken are more popular in Serbia.
Serbia’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Pork, Chicken
Fruit: Plum, Watermelon
Vegetable: Cabbage, Tomato
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.