Western Serbia is famous for its beautiful nature reserves, lakes, mountains, grass lands, fresh air, free range farming, smoked meats and this; Komplet Lepinje.
Nothing compares to it, apart from maybe ‘French Toast’ but even that is miles away from KL, the true and only calorie bomb. If there ever was a food so wholesome that eating just one of these for breakfast would set you up for the rest of the day, well… till dinner time anyway, then Komplet lepinje is it!
The seductress of all stuffed buns can be prepared in minutes and is made using only these 4 (+1) ingredients;
1. Lepinje If that’s not available, then try making your own, see here how, or use Ciabatta or Baguette instead
2. eggs, always use the free range variety if you can source them. Free range eggs should come from chickens that are able to run outdoors, eat grasses, herbs and insects and left to live following their natural instincts. These eggs are better for us and for nature.
3. kajmak, which is much like clotted cream or mascarpone, tastes amazing and luckily for us can be found in many parts of the Balkan, especially in Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia and Macedonia.
4. dripping, which is obtained by collecting the fatty juices that run of (spit) roasting meat. In the Zlatibor region, the origin of Komplet lepinje, this would mainly come from roasted lamb. In other parts of Serbia they may substitute lamb drippings for those of roasted pig or even, but very seldom, from roast beef. In my opinion lamb drippings are the best tasting for this particular food.
+1. smoked meats, especially beef cuts, like prosciutto and from the neck are sometimes added to the bun. This would be a KL ‘fully loaded’ and I dare say a tough one to consume in one go.
Komplet Lepinje (translated; “the complete bun”) is totally calorific, loaded with cholesterol and most definitely
not meant for those recovering from a heart attack. But people from western Serbia don’t care too much worrying about calories. By nature they are very active people who’s diet should be highly calorific so that then they have the energy, strength and stamina to till the land and tend to their cattle all day long. While summers are hot winters are especially cold which means its time to ‘fuel up’ in order to face the bitter weather that sweeps the region continuously for many months.
In the old days, when there weren’t any supermarkets to buy TV dinners, people just had to do with what nature offered and what nature had in store depended from region to region. Mountain people, more often than not, were cattle farmers. Other than chickens it were the sheep, goats and cattle what sustained them.
Even though meat was plentiful it wasn’t consumed fresh very often because livestock was more valuable alive in that it provided you with milk with which to make yoghurt, cheeses, butter and kajmak. If an animal were to be slaughtered it was always done for the purpose of a festive period, whether that would be celebrating a wedding or a religious festival.
The slaughtered animal was usually spit roasted, whole, because for spit roasting you wouldn’t necessarily need a butcher. In order to not waste anything, the 4th ingredient, the dripping, was collected by placing a bowl with a little water under the roast. People, being poor, had to be resourceful. Nothing was, or is, wasted or thrown away. So, they collected the fat in that bowl. Salt is then added and, presto, you have dripping.
At first dripping would then be spread on bread, maybe together with some sliced garlic (very tasty). Somewhere along the way someone came up with the idea to add kajmak and eggs and so Komplet lepinje was born.
Komplet Lepinje is mostly prepared in the region of Western Serbia, where it was invented. However, these days it is possible to find places elsewhere in Serbia, even in Belgrade, that will do it.
In my opinion there are only 3 places worth a visit. These are…
Pronounced; Zo-ri-na Krt-sch-ma is located at the edge of a hamlet that goes by the name of ‘Borova Glava‘ (translated literally as; “Pine Heads”), about 15km west of the town of Zlatibor. I’ll give you the address and coordinates below.
Zorina Krcma is one of those unique places that everyone should try to visit once in a lifetime and not necessarily because they do one of the best Komplet Lepinje to be found anywhere on the planet.
For me the main reasons are; 1. This little kafana is housed within a traditional Hansel and Gretel style Zlatibor building, very cute, quaint and most definitely warm and welcoming. 2. The interior is reminiscent of the 70’s and I mean this in most sincerely complimentary way. It’s clean and not at all tatty. I guess nothing changed since it first opened its doors for business and I hope it never will. 3. The mother and daughter team are perfect in their manner of hospitality; always friendly, kind, patient and ready to please. 4. They do a perfectly, fantastic, mouth watering, delectably flavoursome Komplet lepinje. So good I know people, including myself, that will do a 50km round trip just to get their breakfast there.
There is not really much else on the menu, so if you’re looking for a BLT or an English Breakfast then you’re in the wrong place. They do just the one thing; Komplet lepinje. Other than that you can order a very refreshing homemade yoghurt to go along with your KL. After Breakfast order yourself either a strong ‘domestic’ coffee (ground coffee boiled directly in water, similar to what you would find in Greece and Turkey) or one of a selection of teas. Sip them slowly because you’ll need some time for all that flour and lard to settle.
At Zorina Krcma they also sell their own organic meadow honey, so on your way out please buy a jar (or two). It would make a perfect souvenir and when enjoying that honey at home it may entice you to visit Zorina Krcma sometime again soon.
How to find Zorina Krcma
Address: High road E 763, Borava Glava
Coordinates for your satellite navigation:
43°37’02.4″N x 19°43’33.4″E (about 15Km from Zlatibor)
Telephone: Sorry , I don’t have a number for you but reservations are not usually necessary
Suljaga in Uzice
Suljaga is one of those places that you would never find if you didn’t know about it in the first place. Then, when you do, you’d curse yourself for not having found it sooner.
Suljaga is located in the centre of the town of Uzice, about 25 Km east from Zlatibor and about 200km from Belgrade. If it wasn’t for the faded old sign glued against the dirty plastered cement wall you would walk right past it. Suljaga is not a place that needs to advertise itself.
Since 1955 Suljaga slowly but surely earned a reputation for serving up their one and only speciality which is possibly the best Komplet Lepinje in the land. The large wooden double door leads to a counter from where you order and if you’re lucky you won’t find yourself cuing to get inside.
Like most places that do the best Komplet lepinje, Suljaga does only that and nothing else.
The buns (in Serbia they call ‘Lepinje’) which are the raw material for the Komplet lepinje, are made using just flour, water and salt.
These are bought in from an other bakery that specializes in the production of Lepinje which are baked in a beech-wood fired oven. When they have found their way to Suljaga they are transformed into Komplet lepinja and once again baked in a beech-wood fired oven. They are then served whole, on simple plates, and either consumed standing in the corridor or wrapped up to be taken out and eaten at leisure, probably somewhere more comfortable.
Suljaga, moreover, is a must visit place for lovers of gourmet food. You go to Suljaga; not for the ambiance, nor the architecture, not even for the coffee. The only reason, and an extremely valid reason, to go to Suljaga is for the food.
How to get to Suljaga in Uzice
Address: Petra Ćelovića 29, Užice
Coordinates for your satellite navigation:
43°51’18.4″N x 19°50’26.0″E (about 25Km from Zlatibor)
Telephone: Sorry, they don’t seem to have a number.
There is no need to call. Just turn up. Because it is a breakfast place they open early, probably around 6 am, and close early, at 12pm.
‘Pego’ in Sljivovica
Šljivovica (pronounced; Schl-j-i-vo-vi-tsa). I know, the name of this village doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, whichis why it has take me years to learn this language and still haven’t mastered it. Someone told me, Chinese and Serbian are the same in that both languages are hardest to learn for westerners. Still, having chosen to live here what else can I do 🙂
Pego is reminiscent of a truck stop and not only because the parking space is often lined with trucks. It is just that the whole place is grey, a little untidy even and rough round the edges. The dining room is simple with sturdy furniture and with no expenses made to make it look at all in any way attractive. Having observed this it is cosy nonetheless. Important is that the quality of the food is very good, while prices are comparable to diners. The atmosphere is always warm and welcoming, the staff efficient and friendly and, unlike Suljaga and Zorina Krcma that only do Komplet lepinje, Pego operates as a full service restaurant.
Their KLs are perfectly baked and, if you ask, served with drippings on the side so you can ladle as much juice on your bun as you like. Something that Pego has over the other two is that you can order more than just Komplet Lepinje. Pego does some excellent roast lamb and pig, as well as barbecued specialities including cevapcici and pljeskavica. They also have a great selection of smoked meats, local farm salads and cheeses on offer. This means you can go with a crowd and find something on the menu that will please everybody.
As I said; the place is grubby, oh..and smokey, but the food is great!
This is where you can find Pego
Address: Sljivovica bb (without number)
Coordinates for your satellite navigation: 43°47’07.3″N x 19°40’41.1″E (about 20Km from Zlatibor)
Telephone: +381 (0) 31 3830140
Reservations are usually not necessary but in order to avoid disappointment (for wanting to eat at a truck stop) it is best to call in advance, especially if you’re in a group.
I hope that you have enjoyed this little feature on Komplet lepinje and hope even more so that one day, if and when you’ll find your self in Serbia, you’ll go out and try one of these amazing breakfasts. I believe with all of my taste buds, Komplet Lepinje is one of those things you must try at least once in your life.
If, for one reason or an other Serbia is just too far away or not on your travel intinerary then you can, I think, easily make this at home. The recipe for which you’ll find here.