A jar of lyutenitsa is one of the essential food items in almost every Bulgarian and North Macedonian household. This famous relish, which lies somewhere between a spread and a chutney, is made with red peppers, chili peppers, tomatoes, onion, salt, sugar, and oil.
The peppers are roasted, seeded, and cut into larger chunks. Subsequently, they are fried and simmered with other ingredients in oil and water until they develop the right consistency. Lyutenitsa is traditionally consumed like a spread, accompanied by bread, crackers, or toast.
It is also commonly served on the side with meat dishes, especially grilled meat and meatballs. Depending on the region and personal preference, the ingredients, thickness, and level of spiciness might slightly vary. Lyutenitsa and other similar spreads are often found across the Balkans; however, the relish has been regarded as an authentic Bulgarian product.
Even though it is hard to trace when it originally appeared in the country, the mass production of this national favorite started in the 1950s. Today it can be bought in stores and is commonly served in most traditional restaurants. However, the homemade variety, prepared in late summer, when the vegetables are at their peak, is still considered the ultimate version.