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Pljeskavica is a meat dish that originated in Serbia, in the city of Leskovac. It is popular in southeastern parts of Europe, particularly in the Balkan region. It has also gained some popularity in western areas of Europe, particularly in Austria and Germany.
The main feature of the dish is a large meat patty that is made from either ground lamb or ground beef. The dish is usually served hot and is accompanied with grilled onions. In some places, pljeskavica is served with side dishes as well.
The most common side dishes and condiments with which pljeskavica is served include ajvar and kajmak. Ajvar, which is also spelled "aijvar" is a paste or spread that is made with red bell peppers as its primary ingredient. The consistency of ajvar is such that it can be used as a relish or served as a side dish. It is usually made with peppers that have been roasted and is sometimes made in a spicy version by having hot peppers incorporated into the recipe.
Kajmak, which goes by about half a dozen names and variations on its spelling, is a dairy food. Like aivar, kajmak is served as a side dish or appetizer but is also often used as a condiment. When thinking of analogous American-style dishes, one can imagine pljeskavica as being like an American-style hamburger, while aivar would be like something between ketchup and relish and kajmak would be mayonnaise.
Sometimes pljeskavica is served in the manner of a hamburger. Instead of being served on a traditional hamburger bun, however, it is served on pita bread. The pita bread that is used to make a sandwich with pljeskavica is usually rather thick.
Just as there are about a thousand different variations on the theme of the hamburger, there have been a number of culinary interpretations of the pljeskavica. The alterations to the dish most commonly have to do with the type of meat that is used, the side dishes that accompany the dish, and the condiments that are used to flavor it. While hamburgers in the west are sometimes made with ground turkey, pljeskavica is almost always made with some kind of red meat. Much like western hamburgers, pljeskavica are sometimes served with a kind of cheese called kashkaval, which is a kind of yellow cheese that is used to top the patty.
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