Croatia is a country where one can eat well throughout the year, but the true culinary magic starts with Christmas, and leaves nobody indifferent. While it’s snowing outside, the wind howls, Christmas time defines prosperity, a warm home, family, and friends, so it is best to relax, forget about all the problems and enjoy some fantastic delicacies.

It is no secret Croatians love their food. There is usually no need to wait for special occasions for an impressive feast.

For Croatians, the big day in the Christmas period is “Badnji Dan” (Christmas Eve Day) and “Badnja Večer” (Christmas Eve night).

The term badnjak means “to be awake”, hence referring to staying awake all through the night until Christmas Day. The tradition of bringing a log into the house and placing it on the fire on badnjak, and keeping it burning throughout Christmas Day, has been going on in regions in Croatia for centuries.

Another old tradition is the sowing of pšenica (wheat seeds) in a bowl of water (usually on St. Lucy’s day), which will grow until Christmas and is then used to decorate the table on Christmas.

Since Christmas Eve is a fasting day, traditionally on Christmas Eve Day Croatians do not eat the whole day, just drink water and take small bits of bread (fasting). Because we do get a whole lot of hungry in the evening, the Christmas eve dinner is a very special occasion.

In my part of Croatia, Slavonia there are two dishes that are a must for Christmas eve dinner. And we kind of wing it for the dessert.

I am going to start this list of recipes with a soup kind of dish. Slavonia is well known for it and it is heaven on a plate.

  1. Fish paprikash – Fish stew

The simplest recipe for homemade Fish Stew. If you think it is difficult to prepare fine, delicious and finger-licking Fish Stew at home, you are mistaken. I bring you a proven recipe from my husband that has been tried by many around me. It’ll work for everyone, for the expert to those who first held the spoon to cook a dish like this. On top of that, this is, I think, the easiest recipe for Fish Stew ever, and believe it really anyone can make it.


  • 4 red onions
  • about 2.5 kg of fish (maybe more, we use carp, pike and small white fish)
  • Knorr Fish Stock Cubes or KNORR FISH STOCK POWDER
  • 2 dcl tomato sauce or ketchup
  • 1 dcl of white wine
  • 2-3 tablespoons of chutney
  • Ground hot red pepper (teaspoon)
  • Ground sweet red pepper (2 tablespoons)
  • salt
  • Dried Vegetable Blend (I saw that Amazon has it)
  • Oil


  • Put a little oil and water in a large saucepan to warm (about to cover the bottom slightly).
  • Cut the onions into very small pieces or grind them in a blender. Cook the onions for about 20-30 minutes. The most important thing is to cook the onion good, to make them soft, so do not rush, but gently mix for 20-30 minutes until the onions are golden brown.
  • Then mix the 2 Knorr Fish stock cubes or 4 tablespoons of Knorr fish stock powder in 1.5 liters of warm water and add it in the pot when the onion is done.
  • When it boils, add sliced fish (everything goes in from head to tail, most commonly carp, perch, pike, you can put fish eggs, in fact, any fish you have on hand), 2 dcl of tomato sauce or ketchup, 1 dcl white wine, salt, Dried Vegetable Blend, 2-3 tablespoons of chutney, 2 tablespoons of ground sweet pepper and a teaspoon of ground hot pepper.
  • Stir everything well and let it simmer for 40 minutes. Don’t rush this part either, let it cook gently. It is also important that you do not mix the fish much during cooking, especially later when cooked, so that it does not fall apart and you end up with bones in your plate. You can stir gently and slowly if you think you need to.
  • Before the end of cooking, try the Fish stew, if anything is missing, add it, salt, hot peppers, etc.
  • Before eating remove the stew from the heat and allow it to stand for 15 minutes, during which time you cook the pasta.
  1. “Drunk” Carp

Christmas Eve in Slavonia is mostly reserved for only one type of fish. In my opinion, it is the king of freshwater fish, it is no less a carp.

A fish that has a fairly ideal fat-to-meat ratio, a fish that can be cooked in a number of ways, from cooking to boiling to baking. But baking itself again offers a few additional options from the simpler to the more complex.

Today there is a “drunk” carp on the menu. Juicy, spicy, crispy skin, in one word: perfect!


  • 1 carp (3 – 5 kg)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 parsley
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 kg of potatoes
  • 2 dl white wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter


  • Clean the carp, wash it well and remove its head and tail. Slice the carp crosswise as if you were making steaks. Salt the fish inside and out and put a tablespoon of butter and fresh parsley inside.
  • Place half slices of lemon in the notches to release its juice and flavor the fish while baking.
  • Peel the potatoes and carrots, chop them into slices and also salt and pepper them.
  • Put everything in a baking pan, add butter or other fat and bake for 30 minutes at 2000C.
  • After half an hour, pour wine over everything and return to the oven for another 35-40 minutes to cook it all the way.
  • Serve with a bean salad or with a puree made with the same ingredients.
  1. Drunken pears with cinnamon – Pears in red wine


  • Pears 6 pcs
  • lemon 1 pc
  • cinnamon 1/2 bag
  • red wine 400 ml
  • yellow sugar 150 g
  • Corn flour 4 teaspoons


  • Peel the pears and spray them with lemon juice mixed with 100 ml of water
  • Add to boil wine, combined with sugar, cinnamon and 100 ml of water; and add pears. On low heat cook pears for about 25-30 minutes.
  • Remove the pears.
  • Add 4 teaspoons of Corn flour to half the amount of wine in which they were boiled and cook the sauce until thickened, then pour over the pears.

Note: The remaining half of the wine in which the pears were cooked can be drunk.


  1. My brain misprocessed “Another old tradition is the sowing of pšenica“ as “sowing of placenta,” and I thought, “Well, that’s a new one!” 😳😹

    All of the foods you posted look delicious, by the way.


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