Ćevapčići are meatballs with a cylindrical shape characterized by a particularly spicy and decisive flavor, due to the presence of abundant onion, garlic and paprika.
They are typical of Balkan cuisine, but are also prepared in part of north-eastern Italy, Austria and Romania, where they are called mititei or mici.
The name comes from the Persian word kebab, along with the diminutive of the Slavic languages -čići (čevapčiči/čevapi). In some areas, such as Serbia, they are also called only ćevapi. In North Macedonia they are also called “kebapi” denomination closer to the original one.
Ćevapčići are made with finely chopped beef, pork and lamb and then seasoned with salt, spices and aromas. In Bosnia and Herzegovina and in all countries with a Muslim presence, pork is removed.
Ćevapčići are traditionally served in various ways depending on the country you are in: with raw onion and ajvar sauce (a spicy sauce made from peppers), with Arabic bread and yogurt sauce, with pickles and chips (in Romania), with sour cream and with other variations.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the typical ćevapčići of Sarajevo are traditionally served in the special forms of bread called somun. Within Bosnia, however, there are two other variations, the ćevapčići of Banja Luka (made with beef and mutton and spiced with garlic and pepper) and the ćevapčići of Travnik (served in a local bread called “pitica” and made with beef, veal, mutton and lamb).
The classic recipe for about 15 ćevapčići
- 200 g minced lamb meat
- 150 g minced beef
- 150 g minced pork
- 1 white onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- Salt and pepper
- finely chop the onion and garlic, then pour the 3 types of minced meat into a large bowl
- add the onion, garlic and cumin
- add the paprika and knead with your hands to obtain a homogeneous mixture
- add salt and pepper kneading again
- cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, to allow the flavors to mix
- form cylindrical meatballs about 10 cm long and 2 cm wide
- heat a plate well
- cook the ćevapčići on the plate for about 7 minutes, turning them often to ensure uniform cooking: they must be toasted on the outside but still soft and juicy on the inside