Chef Loryn Nalic's 3 favorite dishes from Balkan Treat Box

When chef Loryn Nalic recreated her and her husband Edo Nalic’s favorite dishes from the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe for Balkan Treat Box, she found the perfect nexus of nostalgia and technique. “I had to figure out what made [the street food] so special,” she said. “A lot of it was the hustle and bustle of downtown Sarajevo, the smells of charcoal and wood – all of these elements going together.” After years of development, she arrived at a menu spectacular enough to make Balkan Treat Box both our readers’ Favorite New Restaurant and Favorite Mediterranean/Middle Eastern. Here are three of Nalic’s favorites.

“Cevapi probably means the most to me, with the connection to my husband’s family and the memory of that. Cevapi is different for everybody, depending on where you’re from in the Balkans. The dish is so simple; I had to figure out what made it so special there. When I came back to do our version, I was hitting a lot of road blocks because I didn’t have the equipment. [It was] trial and error in my house, on my backyard grill, in my oven. It was a long and hard process to get it to where it is now.”

cheese pide from balkan treat box // photo by meera nagarajan

“I knew I needed to utilize the wood-burning oven that we had welded to the food truck – that’s how the pide was born. That’s something I fell in love with – it’s very similar to pizza. In early Balkan Treat Box, it was a cheese pide. It was long and skinny and wasn’t attractive. Once we got customers, it had its own evolution, its own glow-up. It’s my menu darling. It’s tasty, it hits all the notes. It makes you feel the feels.”

patlidzan // photo by meera nagarajan

“It’s one of those sandwiches that you look at and you’re like, ‘That’s a lot of ingredients…’ And then you eat it and it’s joyful. You really have to like eggplant to enjoy it – it’s a textural thing. I had an eggplant dip with egg that was part of this Turkish breakfast. It was funny to me that they were putting eggplant with egg. Egg and egg! I wanted to play around with that. It’s creamy and crunchy. There’s vinegar. There’s all these elements that are surprising.”