Pav’s Bulgarian Banitsa

Pav was interviewed by Martin Evans on BBC Radio Bristol as part of their weekday lunchtime link with 91 Ways in August. Pav brought in freshly made traditional Bulgarian Banitsa for him to try – still warm in the pan!

Banitsa is a layered cheese and pastry dish. Pav said, “in Bulgaria it can eaten at any time of the day, for a snack or as part of a main meal”.

Pav also brought in a chocolate cake, made with a special very low gluten grain, and here he tells the wonderful story of how this grain was rediscovered:

“My cake is made from flour from Bulgaria. The grain itself was inherited from a civilisation which lived 8,500 years ago in Bulgaria: I was lucky enough to meet archiologists who found a tomb in Vratsa, a city in northwestern Bulgaria. Inside they found a pot containing seeds, which was completely sealed. They didn’t know what the seeds were so they spread them on a field. When they came back the next year, the seeds had grown and the contents of the pot turned out to be grain!

Pav admits it sounds like a story from a science fiction movie but he explains how the seeds survived for thousands of years inside that pot, “the husk has four layers so it’s completely protected from radiation and it grows like a wild grass or wild wheat and will grow anywhere. It also produces a very high level of grains per acre: around 80 to 100 kilos per acre, which is five times more than standard grains.”

When Pav first moved to Bristol, he was excited to try the different types of food he found in the city, “England is such a cosmopolitan place, there are so many varieties of food so I wanted to try everything!”
“I came here because I lived in Bulgaria for 27 years, and I loved it there, but I wanted to see what it was like in England: I loved English music and arts and I wanted to explore more of the culture. And now I have a family here!”

When Pav was interviewed his partner had had their first baby only four weeks earlier – congratulations Pav!

Pav’s Bulgarian Banitsa


1 pack filo pastry

7 eggs

300g feta cheese (or Bulgarian soft cheese from the Bulgarian food shop on Old Market)

300g natural yogurt

Half a bag of spinach, chopped

1 knob of butter, melted

  1. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, cheese, yogurt and spinach
  2. In a dish, layer sheets of filo pastry and egg mixture alternately, finishing with a Sheet of filo.
  3. Brush the top with melted butter and bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes