Bulgarian Marrows (Tikvichki) But Not As You Know Them

Bulgarian Marrows (Tikvichki) But Not As You Know ThemMarrows are a food that many people shy away from - It’s boring, or I don’t like the taste is the reaction from many. Of course many recognise the marrow a big green sausage shaped vegetable and the bigger the better. That’s what I thought until coming to Bulgaria.

Having cooked marrow in the UK many times before I came here, there wasn’t much incentive really. I was the only one in the family who ate it! It was marrow for me and KFC for everyone else, I ‘m so glad that doesn’t happen now. The Bulgarians love their marrow or tikvichki as it is called here, but it is completely different here for two reasons. The first is that the bigger is not better; I’ve never seen marrows eaten by Bulgarians more than 20 cm long. The other reason is they choose a very light green and shiny skinned variety of marrow very different from the dark green rough textured skin types you see in the UK.

Bulgarian Marrows (Tikvichki) But Not As You Know ThemI grew Bulgarian marrow in my first season here, but without hindsight left them to grow much bigger. It seemed a waste to eat them, as waiting another few days you’d get double the size and weight. Then I’d take the seeds out, stuff it with a mince/herb mixture and bake it – Very much an English dish that I enjoyed, but apart from mashed marrow with potatoes and butter or slicing it and boiling as a vegetable side dish that was the limit to marrow dishes in my recipe repertoire.

Then the Bulgarians came along and my view of the marrow was altered to such an extent that now the season is on us, we eat it at least two or three times a week -We just can’t get enough of it. It is often the main course and a pleasure to cook. Why is it a pleasure to cook? It is an easy answer, quite simply because we barbecue marrow here and every man on earth likes barbecuing.

Barbecued Tikvichki is a melt in your mouth moment and I will give the exact recipe we now use here. If you got UK marrow in your mind forget about it right now.

Bulgarian Tikvichki Barbecued

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 kg Tikvichki (Around 4-5)
Garlic
Dill
Sunflower Oil
Salt

Method:

Wash the tikvichki and slice lengthways to about ½ cm thick. Put them on a tray and sprinkle salt liberally rubbing it in to cover all the areas of the tikvichki. Leave in a cool place for at least 30 minutes. (This is done to remove the excess water that the vegetable hold and is the key to successful barbecuing tikvichki.)

Take each slice of tikvichki and brush of the excess salt and place another tray. Pour the oil over the tikvichki and rub it so it covers all the surfaces, it is now ready for barbecuing.

You need a hot heat, but not a flamed heat. You need to check that it is cooked thoroughly. You can tell this is done if the tikvichki is tender and begins to fall apart.

Bulgarian Marrows (Tikvichki) But Not As You Know ThemWhilst cooking chop the garlic and dill finely and add some oil mixing it all in a small bowl and put to one side. Each slice of tikvichki that is cooked should be put on a plate or serving tray and the herb mixture spread on. This should be done when the tikvichki s piping hot to get the flavours to merge. You will end up with a few layers of tikvichki, which should be criss-crossed as each layer goes on.

They can be served straight away to waiting family or guests.

When cool store in the fridge an they can be eaten cold or reheated the next day, but I guarantee there won’t be any left from the evening before!

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This is another major discovery of exceptional food in Bulgaria where simple food rules again.

British marrow photograph from http://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk
Sliced tikvichki photograph from http://fitnesinstruktor.com/

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