Bosnian Ramadan recipes: Tarhana soup and sirnica (cheese pie)

Bordered by Croatia to the east and north, and Serbia and Montenegro to the west, Bosnia has always been a rich cultural hub. Its gastronomy follows suit, borrowing from Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine, as well as 400 years of Ottoman rule.

Delicious slow-cooked meats, fragrant, spicy stews and sweet desserts are all popular fare in this corner of Southwestern Europe, and just like other countries during Ramadan, there are a number of dishes that traditionally find their way to the Iftar table


Tarhana soup, Bosnia / Shutterstock

Tarhana soup

As in many Muslim homes throughout the world, it is customary to break the fast before Iftar with something light in order not to overload the digestion after a long day fasting. After an initial lemonade and a few dates, this simple soup is a warming tradition in Bosnia, and this version is super easy to make.


Servies 4

– 1-2 tbsp cooking oil
– ½ onion, chopped
– 2 small carrots, finely diced
– 1 red capsicum, finely diced
– 1 celery stick, fined diced
– 400g lamb of beef mince
– 1 tsp paprika (smoked or original)
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp Vegeta (or vegetable stock cube)
– Pinch of pepper
– 400g chopped tomatoes
– 100g tomato puree
– 2-3 litre (8-12 cups) water
– ¾-1 cup tarhana noodles (or vermicelli)
– Handful parsley or basil, chopped (optional)
– Sour cream to serve (optional)
– Crusty bread, to serve (optional)



1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until softened.

2. Add the diced vegetables and cook for 5 minutes until lightly browned. Add the beef mince and cook for 5-6 minutes or until browned.

3. Stir in the salt, pepper and Vegeta until combined.

4. Then add the drained tomatoes, tomato puree and stir well.

5. Add the water and bring to the boil.

6. Once bubbling add your noodles and stir well, ensuring nothing sticks to the sides or bottom of the saucepan.

7. Reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to avoid the noodles sticking to the saucepan.

8. The tarhana will expand and thicken the soup, but if you prefer a more liquid consistency add more water as required. Season to taste.

9. Once ready, add chopped herbs and leave to sit for 5-10 minutes.

10. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and crusty bread.



Sirnica, Bosnian cheese pie / Shutterstock


This simple cheese pie looks and tastes delicious and, more importantly, feeds a crowd on days when you are not quite sure how many are turning up at your house.

A genuine Bosnian pie would use local soft cheese, but ricotta has been used here as it’s often easier to buy. Any mix of full-fat traditional soft cheeses would be just as good. Some versions of this recipe are wound into a spiral, but this one is simply layered so it’s easy to assemble. 


Serves 6-8

– 350g ricotta cheese
– 225g feta cheese
– 5 eggs
– 225g sour cream
– ½ tsp salt
– Filo pastry sheets – about 16
– Oil (sunflower or canola for brushing tin and pastry)
– 100ml milk


1. Heat oven to 190C.

2. Mix cheeses, eggs, sour cream and salt.

3. Oil a baking tin (traditionally, this is round, but any shape will be fine) & layer 2 filo sheets on top of each other and brush each with oil before adding the next.

4. Take about 4-5tbsp of the filling and spread over the top sheet.

5. Layer 2 filo sheets on top of the filling, brushing each with oil before adding the next.

6. Repeat until the filling and filo is used up, leaving 2 sheets for the top.

6. Brush the top with oil, and bake for 15 minutes, then turn the pan 180 degrees and cover with foil.

7. Bake another 15-20 minutes.

8. Take the pie out of the oven and brush with milk. Cool for 15 minutes.

9. Cut into squares/slices



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