Cevapi (kebabs) are no longer the unseen miracle. Migrations from the East have spread the smell of roasted rolled minced meat all over the world. Experienced gourmands can recognize the recipe from Turkey or from the territory of former Yugoslavia just by the smell. The most popular Balkan dish is, of course, kebab. Made of minced meat, rolled into small rolls and roasted on a grill, kebabs sometimes do not look very appealing, but it is not all in appearance, there is something in the details.
Kebab was brought to the Balkans by the Turks. Although militant and, above all, ready to resist, the Serbs did not hasten to free from the occupiers. For five centuries of the Ottoman empire rule on the soil of today's Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia, parts of Montenegro and Croatia, the enslaved inhabitants have been accepting new gourmet customs and kebab as well. Whoever smelled kebab, he will understand the fluctuations of national feelings. The conquest of the Balkans in history has been accomplished with weapons, but the real "implementation" of influence, as well as in a marriage, goes through the stomach.
Kebab is made from mixed meat and, depending on religion and climate, it is used a mixture of beef and lamb or beef and pork. If you like "the old way", chop the selected meat into fine cuts on the stump. The smaller you flatten them the better because the masters claim that the meat remains juicy that way and will not burn on the grill. Each kebab master has his own spices, and pepper and salt are mandatory. The mixed mass flows through the funnel to produce a distinctive shape, but it can also be done manually. Kebabs are placed on the grill and the master's recommendation is to burn beech or oak charcoal. The chopping is usually replaced by mincing today and the quickest way is to go to your local butcher's where everything has already been prepared and the only thing you have to do is make a fire. While you are in the smoke together with kebabs, a little bit of history cannot hurt.
Gourmet sources say that the kebab is of Persian origin, that it has travelled from fried to baked and even burned meat, judging by the etymology and root of the word kebab, shish kebab, kebhav, gabab. If there was not for Bosnia, the Turks would not have remained so much time in this region, so in Bosnia, a cult of kebabs was developed. The rivalry of the two cities - Banja Luka and Sarajevo has also developed two rival prototypes of kebabs. Which one is better? Sarajevo or Banja Luka? Here Belgrade gets involved. While the residents of Sarajevo enjoyed fame, the residents of Banja Luka conquered the capital of former Yugoslavia. Along with the onion and kajmak, the Banja Luka kebab turned into "Belgrade one". Today, there are more "Banja Luka" kebab places in Belgrade than in Banja Luka.
However, Belgrade has its own kebab legend written by the famous Branislav Nusic, a playwright, journalist and rebel against the dynasty. As Nusic writes. In Belgrade, kebab was first served in the sixties of the 19th century in the tavern "Kod Tanaska Rajica". That tavern was located on the today's Student Square. The owner of the tavern, a certain gazda (boss) Zivko, originating from Leskovac, used a long stay of the Turks in the south of Serbia to collect crafts and recipes for preparing kebabs and burgers. How these "Belgrade" kebabs were good, Nusic writes that the boss became so rich that he built a church in his native place from earnings.
Well, since the kebabs are over, we better serve them. The easiest manner is the best. Hot bun, kajmak and onion. Five to ten in a serving depending on size of both kebas and appetite.