Keto and Balkan food could be the most impossible combination for Ketonians! Since Greece is a part of this cultural basin, we already had quite a successful journey in our Ketonisation quest. Unlike Ancient Greeks and Romans, most of the Balkan nations are quite “new” to this territory when we look at it from a historical point of view. In fact, Slavs arrived here when the wheat and cereals already became staples of nutrition. Therefore, it is not a surprise that most of their dishes are loaded with carby cereal flours. Specifically, ketonising anything from the Balkans is the most difficult task! However, we succeeded with the ketonisation of phyllo dough!
Why wouldn’t we go a step further and ketonise the famous Pogača?
What is Pogacha (Pogača)
This is a subject that could be researched by gastronomists and historians. There’s so much history interlaced that even Ancient Greeks and Romans would get confused. The best info available in English is, of course, the mighty Wikipedia’s article about Pogacha. Here we can see that the origins could be in Byzantine or even the Western Roman Empire. The Romans called it panis focacius (bread baked in the focus, centre of the oven). So, this might be the origin of the Italian speciality Foccacia. On the other side, the Byzantines called it Pogatsa (πογάτσα) and that would be much closer to today’s name all over the Balkan territory. It has a strong ethnographical and ethnological meaning to the eastern Balkan nations. In Serbia, particularly, Pogača plays a major role in all festivities and celebrations. It is adored like a goddess of the festive table!
Is it a flat-bread?
Well, basically – it is. The trick is in making Pogača crispy, but still soft and airy without using the yeast! In Bosnia, specifically in the town of Kiseljak, where the most quality mineral water source is located, there is a tradition of making Pogača without yeast! The dough is specifically airy due to bubbles that naturally carbonated water provides. In the modern version, the factory-carbonated water gives even better boost in the air bubbles which are created during the baking process. This is why baking with sparkling mineral water creates the pastry that is so much easier to digest than the versions with yeast!
The ancient Greeks brought Pogača to Croatian islands
The arrival of the Greeks in the Adriatic area is inconceivable without Dionysius I of Syracuse, who founded the colony of Issa in 397 BC. You might know this island (Vis) from the recent movie Mamma Mia Here we go again which was filmed there. From the time of Dionysius to the end of the antiquity, the colony played an indispensable role on the cultural and civilisation map of the Adriatic. And then it sunk into several dark centuries in the shadowy waters of the Middle Ages.
Yet in the archaeological remains of Old Issa, we can still feel the Greek spirit. That is the legacy and pulsation of our territory past life that we feel in the local gastronomic tradition. Namely, as we know from nutrition history, the basis of the Greek diet was made up of olives, cheese, salty fish, lamb and various baked goodies. Flatbread made of ground almonds (sometimes walnuts ) was a speciality that somehow got forgotten with the over popularisation of wheat!
That’s where we will go for the inspiration
Making the bread with nut and seed based flours is a well-known thing for any experienced Keto baking enthusiasts. However, making it without rising agents, without yeast and even without baking soda – now that’s something new! Besides being healthier, baking with sparkling mineral water will give you a new experience! Not to mention, you will end up with some additional minerals!
Let’s get to Keto Balkan Pogača – The collision of East and West, Past and Future
- 3 tbsp walnuts
- 3 tbsp hazelnuts blanched
- 3 tbsp almonds blanched
- 6 tbsp sesame seeds
- 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp psyllium powder
- 2 tbsp coconut flour
- 2 tbsp almond flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
- 6 large eggs free-range
- 120 g (1/2 cup) butter preferably goat butter
- 6 tbsp sour cream
- 100 ml (1/2 cup) sparkling mineral water
Place the nuts and seeds in a food processor. Add rosemary and salt. Pulse it for several seconds and repeat until you ground them finely. Mix this mixture with almond flour, coconut flour and psyllium powder.
In another bowl, Beat the eggs with an electric mixer and start adding melted butter. Add sour cream. At this point add minced garlic or garlic powder and keep beating.
While you are beating the wet ingredients mixture, start adding the dry ingredients spoon by spoon.
When you've added all the dry ingredients the batter will get quite thick. At this point, start slowly pouring sparkling mineral water. Keep beating at a lower speed.
Line a 13x9" (33x23 cm) baking pan with parchment paper and grease it with some butter or olive oil. Pour in the batter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. and
Bake the Pogača for 15 minutes at 200ºC (392ºF). Then reduce the heat to 150ºC (302ºF) and bake for another 15 minutes.
Serve warm or cold, and combine with smoked bacon, prosciutto, aged goat or sheep cheese, olives and other Mediterranean Keto-friendly foods...