Montenegro is a country in the Balkan, formerly a part of Yugoslavia. It has a fairly low population, only 620,000 people. After dissolution of Yugoslavia it remained in union with Serbia and only gained independence in 2006. Montenegro is perhaps best known for its mountains and mountainous regions. It is also a highly biodiverse area with the highest biodiversity index of all European countries. There is even some rainforest left. Tourism is very important for the country. Besides the mountains and canyons it focuses on the beaches and picturesque coastal towns. The Montenegrins are rather fond of sports, especially team sports from football to the unofficial national sport of water polo, as well as chess and a traditional circle dance called oro.
The Montenegrin cuisine has been influenced by e.g. Italy, Greece and Hungary. The coastal area is more Mediterranean with plenty of seafood, while in other parts more oriental food is served. Homemade bread is served at every meal, bread can be made with rye, wheat, barley or corn. Meat and dairy products are important. Nettles, collard greens, cabbage, beans and mushrooms are commonly used. Most dishes are soups, stews or porridges. They may feature potatoes, rice, cornmeal or noodles. Pastries, pies and salads are common too. Spices aren’t used very much. Pomegranate juice is a popular drink. Dessert is usually just fruit, sweets, often featuring nuts, honey and fruit, are served on their own.
This recipe is hardly very exciting, but I wanted to post more recipes with wild vegetables, especially stinging nettles, which are in season now on the Northern hemisphere. They grow widely, are tasty and not at all bitter like many greens, especially wild greens. They can be used like spinach but are far more nutritious, especially containing huge quantities of iron, calcium and vitamin C, as well as some anti-inflammatory substances. Eating nettles regularly could even help your hayfever. This soup is quite mild and plain as could be expected, some other spices, perhaps nutmeg, would help make it molre flavorful. However, it gets much tastier by the next day, so I’d recommend making it a day in advance.
Crnogorska corba od kopriva
1 lbs/450 g young top shoots of nettles, well washed
1 quart/1 litre water
oil for frying
2 potatoes, diced small
1 bunch spring onions, coarsely chopped
50 g short-grain rice, cooked
a little soy cream, cashew butter or similar
salt to taste
Use gloves and scissors or knife to pick the nettles. Use only young plants, or if using a bit taller ones, only pick the tops (but don’t use ones that are already flowering). Don’t pick them near outhouses or other terrains very rich in nitrogen. While still wearing gloves, cut the leaves off and discard the stems. Wash the nettles well. Steam the nettle leaves until just wilted. Puree with half of the water.
Fry the spring onions and potatoes in oil for a few minutes. Add the rest of the water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rice, cream, salt and the nettles and continue simmering until the potatoes are tender. Add more water if it seems too thick. Serve hot. Makes 4-5 portions.