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A few years ago, I went to a restaurant on the water in Tel Aviv-Yafo called Manta Ray. They served this most exceptional bread they called Balkan bread. It reminded me a little of a focaccia in texture, but I don't think it was focaccia. I have a student from the Balkans whom I asked about it, and she didn't recognize any such kind of bread. Anyone have any idea what this Balkan bread might be?

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    IME, when you encounter food in country X labeled as "country (or region) Y food", you will most likely not find it on your travels in country Y, or if you do, it will taste almost, but not quite, completely unlike what you tasted before. I'm not aware of any focaccia like bread in Macedonia (I go there a lot, my wife's from there), but perhaps other countries in the Balkan do (it's a big area :) ) – Willem van Rumpt Apr 22 '15 at 7:09
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    It could be pogacha, which is the only thing that turns up on a google search for Balkan bread, but at least the Macedonian variety is, despite the name, not very focaccia like in texture, nor did it ever remind me of it (didn't know it was called pogacha). – Willem van Rumpt Apr 22 '15 at 7:14
  • Doesn't the restaurant know? – Jan Doggen Apr 22 '15 at 11:24
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    I found the website for the restaurant but couldn't get the menu to translate. I went to several sites with reviews of the restaurant and many of the reviews mentioned "the freshly baked Yemenite bread" and how good it was. – Cindy Apr 22 '15 at 16:58
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It's almost certainly a type of pogacha, or possibly kruh.

Originally, "pogacha" basically meant "bread baked on a hearth", or in other words, "bread" (when the word was invented, almost all bread was baked on a hearth). Thus, there are as many different kinds of pogacha as there are of bread.

The word derives ultimately from the Latin panis focacius, i.e. bread (panis) baked on the hearth or fireplace (focus), via the Italian focaccia and, more directly, south Slavic languages (cf. pogača / погача).

However, the true Balkan/Turkish pogacha is said to be quite similar to focaccia:

The Pogača or Pogacha (Hungarian: Pogácsa, Greek: Μπουγάτσα, Cyrillic: погача, Turkish: poğaça, Albanian: pogaçe) is a type of bread baked in the ashes of the fireplace, and later on in the oven, similar to focaccia, with which it shares the name (through Byzantine Greek: Πογάτσα), found in the cuisines of the Balkans, Hungary and Turkey.


Pogacha (Balkan/Turkish traditional bread)

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Pogacha topped with rosemary

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Video (thumbnail above) of a focaccia-like pogacha recipe


Belokranjska Pogača (Slovenia's answer to focaccia)

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Kruh (Traditional Croatian bread, baked in a “peke”)

Again, "kruh" just means "bread", so the term itself is very broad - you'll need to search through different kinds of kruh (and pogacha) to find the one that looks like what you have in mind. A "peke" is a cooking vessel, somewhat like a dutch oven, usually made from cast iron.

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