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Obara is a traditional Slovenian stew made of vegetables, meat, and offal in a soup-like gravy. This national dish of Slovenia may also have cooked grains, potatoes, or noodles added to it. It can be made with many types of meat, but it is most popularly made with chicken. Historically, traditional obara was generally made with dormouse, but other meats have grown in popularity as the edible type of dormouse has become more difficult to acquire. This dish is generally a standalone meal, but can be served alongside fried snacks like freshly fried pork rinds or crisps of corn or wheat.
This meat stew has historically featured whatever ingredients were available at the time. Besides dormouse, other types of meat used in obara include typical meats like chicken, beef, and pork, as well as veal and frog legs. This dish is usually plated in a shallow bowl with several substantial chunks of meat in the center of a rich, vegetable-laden stew.
Potato, onion, and cabbage are commonly added to obara, but it can also contain other seasonally fresh ingredients like carrots and green vegetables. Historically one of the meatier foods eaten in poor communities in Slovenia, in the past, obara was served on Sundays and was sometimes the only meat the people ate in a week. More prosperous communities still ate obara, but on a more frequent basis, often several times a week. When potatoes were in short supply, fresh noodle dumplings were added to the stew.
Generally, the meat in this stew is roasted before it is added to the stew, but some versions call for the roasted meat to be pan-browned before it goes into the stew. The thin gravy of obara is made by cooking flour in butter, then adding broth. The offal is often crisped and browned with the butter and flour before the broth is added. Vegetables are usually pan-fried before adding them to the stew. Modern-day obara is made with more vegetables than the soup originally contained.
A dormouse is a small, herbivorous rodent that looks somewhat like a possum or squirrel. The type of dormouse used for cooking is called the edible dormouse or fat dormouse. These animals used to be raised for meat, but in more recent times, they are usually trapped from the wild. Though the dormouse used to be used in many foods, its populations have dwindled in many areas, causing it to become a protected species. As a result, it is now rarely used in food, especially outside Slovenia.