The Food Nomad: cevapi at Mak European Delicatessens
By Suresh Doss
Cevapi is a Bosnian staple (Image: Suresh Doss)
In my opinion, Bosnian cuisine is a rarity in the GTA, and you’d be hard pressed to find a restaurant that serves authentic fare if you don’t know someone who's from the Balkans. Luckily, there’s Mak European Delicatessens, where tasty cevapi are not too far away.
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the city of Mostar in Bosnia. During my short stay there, I spent a lot of time exploring the old town near Stari Most, the historic bridge that spans the Neretva river. Kujundjic Street is the town's main tourist spine, where a number of cafés and shops are set up to greet tourists before they make their way to the views on the bridge. On this street there was a tiny little café that served the most delicious cevapi.
Cevapi is a grilled minced meat dish that is a mainstay in the Balkans. Most often it is a mix of a variety of meats (like beef or lamb) that have been hand-mixed with spices (sometimes paprika and cayenne) and then funneled to form cylinders of meat. It is then grilled over hot coals and served with spongy pita, cottage cheese, ajvar (a relish of peppers, eggplant, chili and garlic), onions and clotted cream (known as kajmak).
When I want some cevapi in Toronto, I go to a little store in North York called Mak European Delicatessens. The store specializes in a variety of imported Balkan products, like pickles, frozen goods, chocolates, cheeses, juices and dried snacks. It also has a great selection of smoked cured meats.
At the back of the restaurant is a tiny café with a limited menu where you can get your cevapi fix. There isn’t much to the dish — just tender cylinders of meat, juicy and moist. Small and large orders (five and 10 pieces respectively) come stuffed in pocketed bread, slathered with kajmak and served with onions and ajvar.
Mak European Delicatessens, 1335 Lawrence Avenue East, 416-444-0719
Suresh Doss is publisher/writer for Spotlight Toronto, an online lifestyle publication focusing on food, wine and culture in Ontario. The Food Nomad — a culinary journey through the GTA that highlights memorable dishes, some forgotten, some overlooked — appears weekly.