Hercegovački červiš, a tiller’s luncheon


River Drina separating Serbia from Bosnia & Herzegovina

Hercegovački červiš, a traditional speciality from the land of Hercegovina

Hercegovački červiš (pronounced; Her-tse-go-vatsh-kee Tser-vish) is traditionally a dish created by the farming community of Bosnia & Hercegovina, a beautiful green and hilly country located in the west of the Balkans which is still steeped in ancient customs.
Hercegovački červiš is made using food items usually available to the people tilling the land. These ingredients would typically be; eggs, flour, onions and garlic. Traditionally this dish is made using goat or lamb, especially the meat from the older animals which is tougher and stronger tasting than meat from younger animals. For this reason vinegar was added during the cooking process in order to make the flavour of the dish less pungent as well as softening the meat.
These days this dish is enjoyed using beef as the main ingredient instead and is now so popular that it can be found on the menus of many gourmet restaurants in Hercegovina and beyond.
One thing I must add is; normally this dish is made from a pasta locally known as 'tarhana'. Tarhana basically is shaped like broken bits of lasagna and is made using these simple ingredients; eggs (whole), water, salt and flour.
To simplify matters for our recipe we will be using giant couscous (the Lebanese variety which is the largest)
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time50 mins
precook10 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Balkan
Keyword: Balkan, Beef, easy, Home Cooking
Cost: 5-8 Euro, 6-10 US$


  • oven and oven dish
  • large wok or saute pan or deep sauce pan


  • 1 kg minced (ground) beef For minced meat I tend to use shoulder or neck because both of theose parts contain the right amount of fat. For this particular dish I use neck and the meat is minced twice.
  • 300-400 grams Pasta Tarhana or giant couscous (Lebanese variety) There exist 3 types of couscous, Israeli, Morrocan and Lebanese. The difference between those 3 is in size only. If you can't find Tarhana use the Lebanese variety which is also known as 'giant' couscous.
  • 1 cube stock Use either chicken, beef or vegetable stock mix with 1 liter of water. Alternatively use ready stock (from a carton).
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper one of each
  • 2 medium onions peeled and cubed
  • 1 bulb garlic yes, you read right. ONE whole bulb or about 10-12 cloves. This dish likes a lot of garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp white vinegar maybe substituted by white wine or red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp lard or vegetable oil this is to grease the oven dish with and also for initially frying the onions


  • peel and chop the onions, do the same with the garlic.
  • boil 1 liter of water and mix in the stock cube or use the ready stock.
  • Add a little oil or lard to a large pan, turn on the heat and fry the onions for a minute or so. Then add the minced beef, the seasoning (salt & pepper) and fry, continuously stirring, till the meat has properly browned. Then add the chopped garlic and the vinegar and stir into the meat. As soon as that is done remove from heat.
  • Transfer the cooked meat mixture to the greased oven dish, add the stock and the Tarhana or couscous and mix well. Close the lid and cook for 30 minutes at 200°C (390°F). Remove the lid (the mixture should still be wet) and cook for a further 10 minutes. Most of the moisture will either be absorbed by the Tarhana/couscous or will have evaporated.
  • The end result should be a juicy dish, not dry.


Hercegovački červiš should have a vinegary tang to it, so feel free to add more vinegar to your liking.
I also recommend adding a little heat, should you so wish, in the form of your favourite hot sauce.
This dish is best accompanied together with either a green salad, cabbage salad or a warm Mediterranean kale salad, the recipe of which you can find on this site.

Here you can find some of my other recipes

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