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Patatnik, also known as patenik, is a potato pie from the southeastern European republic of Bulgaria. The dish requires relatively few ingredients. Besides the potatoes, which are grated, the dish contains also onions, mint and oil, with salt and pepper added for taste. Some people also add flour, eggs or a type of white Bulgarian cheese called sirene for a richer dish.
First, the potatoes for patatnik are peeled and grated, then salted and put aside for about 15 minutes. The salt encourages water to ooze out of the potatoes, after which they are strained. The onions are then grated over the potatoes, and the seasoning is added. This is the stage where some cooks prefer to add eggs or grated cheese to the mixture as well.
Oil is put in a pan and heated. Then the mixture is poured into the pan with a thickness of up to about 0.8 inches (2 centimeters), and the pan is covered with a lid. When the bottom side is golden brown, the pie is flipped upside down, and the other side also fried to a golden-brown color.
In some versions of the patatnik recipe, two sheets of pastry are made from flour and a little water and oil. One sheet goes into the bottom of the pan, the grated potato mixture is poured over it, and the second sheet covers it. This cooking method resembles that of a potato banitsa, a traditionally baked Bulgarian dish that involves a mixture of eggs and cheese poured between layers of pastry.
Patatnik has its origin in the Rhodopes, a range of southeastern European mountains that mostly cover Bulgaria. Over 80 percent of its area covers the country’s south-central region, with the remainder in Greece, which borders Bulgaria to the south. Patatnik is characteristic of the cuisine in the Rhodopes. The dish is primarily enjoyed in other southern Bulgarian places such the ski resorts Smolyan and Bansko, the latter of which is located at the Pirin mountain range; and Zlatograd, which is in the same province as Smolyan. The popularity of patatnik stretches as far as Chernichevo, which is at the southeastern side of the Rhodopes Mountains.
The word patatnik comes from the Rup dialects, which are spoken in the southeastern part of Bulgaria. It is created from the word for potato, spelled as patato or pateto, with the Slavic masculine –nik suffix attached to it. In some areas of Smolyan Province such as Nedelino, the pie is called kashnitsa instead of patatnik.
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