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Cevapcici in somun.jpg
Ćevapi in somun, with onion, from Sarajevo.
Course Main course
Region or state Balkans
Main ingredients Meat (lamb, pork or beef), somun, onion
Cookbook: Ćevapi  Media: Ćevapi

Ćevapi (pronounced [tɕɛv̞ǎːpi]) or ćevapčići (formal diminutive, [tɕɛv̞ǎptʃitɕi], ћевапчићи) is a dish of obelisk-shaped minced meat that is traditionally prepared on a wooden charcoal grill. They come in various forms and flavours depending on their country of origin. Ćevapi are found traditionally in the countries of southeastern Europe (the Balkans). They are considered a national dish in Serbia,[1][2][3] Bosnia and Herzegovina,.[4] They're known to some lesser degree in Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania.

It is widely considered that the ottomans brought the Ćevapi to the Balkans during the Ottoman period expansion of 15th century, and represents a regional speciality similar to the kofte Ćevapi. However, this remains a matter of speculation since the word Ćevapi simply means "Grilled" in the translation and refers strictly to a skewer dish, which differs greatly from the regular Ćevap size and method of preparation. The original Ćevapi brought by the ottoman empire was made on Andiron and served specifically as a skewer. The Ćevap's earliest known existence was mentioned in the Serbian Hajduk stories. Hajduks, being outlaws and usurpers of the ottoman rule, would usually hide in the woods and eat grilled minced meat, which is how the famous Hajdučki Ćevap came into the existence.

In modern times Ćevapi are usually served in a portion made of five to ten pieces on a plate or in a flatbread (lepinje or somun), often with chopped onions, sour cream, kajmak, ajvar, feta cheese, minced red pepper and salt. In Serbia Ćevapi are made of either beef, lamb or pork or mixed, usually wrapped in bacon. Bosnian ćevapi are made from two types of minced beef meat, hand mixed and formed with a funnel, while formed ćevapi are grilled. Macedonian, Croatian, Bulgarian and Romanian varieties are often made of both pork and beef.

Name and etymology[edit]

It is considered that the word ćevap comes from the Persian word Kebab, sometimes with the South Slavic diminutive ending -čići (Bosnian, Croatian: ćevapčići/ćevapi; Slovene: čevapčiči/čevapi; Serbian: ћевапчићи/ћевапи, ćevapčići/ćevapi; Macedonian: Ќебапи, kjebapi; Bulgarian: Кебапчета, kebapcheta, Czech: čevabčiči). The word ćevapi is plural; the singular form ćevap is rarely used, as a typical serving consists of several ćevapi.


During the Ottoman occupation of Serbia in 15th century, 16th century, and 17th century the Hajduk (a Turkish word for rebels and outlaws) made the Hajdučki ćevap out of the pieces of meat and smoked lard roasted over fire.[5] The recipe of the Leskovački ćevap ("Leskovac ćevap"), a local specialty of Serbia, was based on traditional Pljeskavica (meat patty[6]), formed as sausage (ćevap). Leskovac has a long history of grill shops.[7] In Belgrade, ćevapčići first came from Leskovac in the 1860s, into the kafana "Rajić" at the Great Marketplace (today Studentski Trg), from where they quickly spread across the city, and subsequently, country.[8][9] The industry quickly multiplied, as ćevapčići was the drinking public's favourite.[9]

The ćevapčići were served at shops, known as ćevabdžija (pl. ćevabdžije).[10] A 1927–28 study in Belgrade told that people either ate in the restaurant or outside ("on the kaldrma"), often take-away.[10] The shops served from early morning to 10 AM, while often the dish was bought for breakfast.[10]

Before the 1930s, they spread to the rest of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, including east of Serbia and the Macedonia region.[8] By 1932, ćevapčići were regarded a local specialty in southern Serbia, Skopje and Peć.[11] In 1933, the first street food vendor appeared in Maribor, Slovenia, who came from Leskovac, and served grilled meat, including ćevapčići.[12] In 1940, ten pieces cost one Yugoslav dinar.[13] In the second half of the 20th century, ćevapčići and other Oriental dishes entered Croatian cuisine.[14] The Leskovac-styled grilled meat, including ćevapčići, have today become part of everyday-diet in Slovenia.[15] Today, ćevapčići are found outside former Yugoslavia in the diaspora communities.

Leskovac organizes an annual grill festival, the Leskovac Grill Festival, as a showcase of ćevapi and other grilled meat.


A type of mixed-meat Ćevapčići.

They are usually served of 5-10 pieces on a plate or in a flatbread (lepinje or somun), often with chopped onions, sour cream, kajmak, ajvar, cottage cheese, minced red pepper and salt. Bosnian-type ćevapi (halal) are made from two types of minced beef meat, hand mixed and formed with a funnel, while formed ćevapi are grilled. Serbian-type ćevapi (ćevapčići) are made of either beef, lamb or pork, or mixed.

In Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia, čevapčiči is generally served with mustard mixed with finely chopped raw onions and potatoes or French fries, in a common fast food manner.


In Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

Varieties include the Travnički ćevapi from the traditionally cattle herder area of Travnik, Sarajevski ćevap from Sarajevo area, that look similar but taste slightly different due to variations in seasoning and meat content (some varieties containing lamb or other non-pork meats), as well as Banjalučki ćevapi which differs not only in taste but also by being grilled and served in connected tuples (usually of four). Tuzlanski ćevapi served in Tuzla area, come in butter rich soup dipped somun - and have distinctive taste as well as texture of bread. In all cases the dish is kept simple, and traditionally served in somun with onions and/or kajmak and yogurt or kefir as appetizer, whereas outside Bosnia, it's common for ćevapi to be served with variety of vegetables and seasonings.

In Serbia[edit]

Ćevapčići are shown on the right in this example of Serbian cuisine. To the left are uštipci.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica (2002). The New Encyclopedia Britannica. 1. Encyclopedia Britannica. ISBN 978-0-85229-787-2. 
  2. ^ Countries and Their Cultures: Saint Kitts and Nevis to Zimbabwe. p. 68. 
  3. ^ "Serbian cuisine". TravelSerbia. Retrieved August 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Bosnia and Herzegovina". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  5. ^ Yugoslavia. D. McKay. 1962. ... Turkish occupation the outlaws produced hajdučki ćevap which was easy to make on the run. It consists of pieces of meat, potatoes and smoked lard stuck on a skewer and roasted over a roaring fire. 
  6. ^ Laurence Mitchell (2013). Serbia. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-84162-463-1. For the main course, the most popular meat dishes are pljeskavica (meat patties, usually a mixture of pork, beef and lamb, sprinkled with spices, then grilled and served with onion) 
  7. ^ Sergije Dimitrijević (1983). Istorija Leskovca i okoline. Narodni muzej. Гастрономски специјалитет Лесковца били су 'ћевапчићи и чувене лесковачке кобасице печене на роштиљу.4 Лесковац је одувек имао чувене ћевабџије. У периоду који описујемо најпознатије лесковачке ћевабџије биле су ... 
  8. ^ a b Darko Spasić, Branislav Nušić. "Прилог историјату ћевапчића" (in Serbian). Srpsko nasleđe. 
  9. ^ a b Branislav Đ Nušić; Aleksandra Vraneš (1996). Beogradska čaršija. Ars Libri. pp. 22–30. 
  10. ^ a b c Srpski etnografski zbornik. 42. Akademija. 1928. pp. 121–122. 
  11. ^ Milivoja M. Savić (1932). Naša industrija, zanati, trgovina i poljoprivreda: njine osnovice, stanje, odnosi, važnost, putevi, prošlost i budućnost. Izd. Ministarstva trgovine i industrije. p. 244. 
  12. ^ Eating Out in Europe: Picnics, Gourmet Dining and Snacks Since the Late Eighteenth Century. 2003. p. 133. 
  13. ^ Etnografski muzej u Beogradu; Borivoje M. Drobnjaković (1940). Glasnik: Bulletin. Десет ћевапчића за данар, десет за динар! Скупи се гомила и гледа: Добри ћевапчићи, па и велики, а десет за ... 
  14. ^ Ivo Goldstein (1999). Croatia: A History. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. ISBN 978-0-7735-2017-2. To all this must be added, especially in the second half of the twentieth century, the influence of typical oriental-Turkish dishes and ways of cooking (barbecue, cevapcici). 
  15. ^ Dragana Radojičić. "SERBIAN DISHES ON THE SLOVENIAN TABLE". Traditiones. 39 (1). [Abstract] The research included immigration trends from Serbia to Slovenia from 1918 to the present, and how these are reflected in the acceptance of food-related products and dishes that originated in Serbia and have become part of Slovenians’ everyday diet. 

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