Wednesday, July 10

Nikola Tesla and Crafts and Food of Lika

The world we live in, wouldn’t be as it is now if it wasn’t for one incredible man who lit the light and gave us discoveries that led to the technology today: internet, wireless, radio, and of course electricity, among his other, almost seven hundred, patents. Just recently, in this century, world started to learn more about this amazing Serbian man (not Novak Djokovic), who was forgotten and much discredited for his work for unexplained reason. Not completely understood in his time, different, unique and in one word genial, he is now slowly becoming idol of the new generation, thirsty for true, justice and true values. Some interesting articles showed up recently as a sign of hope that he will finally get his place in history equal to Einstein, Newton etc.. Some of them caught my attention, quite different and unusual, as Tesla himself. (read here)

Nikola Tesla, was born on this day, July 10th, and I want to dedicate this post to him and his ethnic background, and not to his true contribution to this world, I’ll leave that to others to write. My blog is about other things, not that big like Tesla’s discoveries, but they still define us as individuals, no matter who we are and what we become.


Tesla in traditional Serbian clothes from Lika region

Tesla’s roots and his ethnic background belong to the region Lika, in his time Austro-Hungarian Empire and later Yugoslavia.

This modest part of the world, mostly populated by Serbs, is the remote highland surrounded by mountains and beautiful nature, still live simple and organic life. How hard life in that area is shows one example: The village of Tesla's mother Djuka Mandic, lived all theses years without electricity and just few years ago finally got power! After the latest war, many Serbs were forced to leave Lika, but their traditions will always be embedded in them and taken in their hearths, just as Tesla took it with him when he left his home and lived in Hungary, France and finally in America.

Tesla’s mother was, as many women in that time, from that region, woman who took care of the family, home, etc.. She gave this, as many would say, gene of inventing to Nikola, as his father, Orthodox Christian priest, gave him sense of spirituality and modesty.

Weaving and Crafts of Lika

She was a great weaver and created many crafts, like the bag that Tesla took with him and is now kept in Tesla’s museum in Belgrade, Serbia.

Traditional Serbian handmade all leather shoes - Opanci 

Woven bag made by Djuka Mandic, Tesla's mother as a gift when Nikola left home in Lika, one of his things found after his death in NewYork, now kept in the Museum of Nikola Tesla-Belgrade Serbia 

Traditionaly woven rug, simailr to one from Tesla's home in Smiljan

Tesla had control over his diet and as many evidences confirm, at the end of his life, he didn’t even eat meat and fish anymore, apparently he became vegetarian. But, I would like to bring you here some of the foods of his home, what they were eating in Tesla’s time and still like to prepare in Lika and around his village Smiljan.

Prosciutto-"Licki Prsut"
Lika is poor region, where people prepare simple but pure, organic food. Lika’s prosciutto and squeaky cheese, were always the most popular products there. Because of mountainous climate, yet close to Mediterranean, greens take major part in the cooking.
Squeaky Cheese - Skripac

Very popular are meals with cabbage and kale, beans and figs etc.. Quite healthy Mediterranean diet, as people live very long here, diet or climate related...

So, here are some recipes from Tesla’s part of Lika and some of Lika’s ethnic crafts and traditions. Although Tesla became a great man, and lived far from his home, he never forgot his roots.

If you want to know more about what Tesla really gave to this world, check the web, read more, be interested, Tesla is all around us!

Tesla holds bulb, lit up wirelessly

Here is to Tesla and his Lika!

Lika style cabbage - the most famous dish from Lika
"Licki kupus"

1 kg smoked dry pork meat (ham, hock, ribs etc..)
1 ½ kg cabbage grated or chopped into thin strips
150 g smoked bacon
1 lb whole potato, pilled and halved

In a big clay deep dish, put layers: first meat, than layer of cabbage than potato etc.. Chopped bacon should be put at a top as a last layer. Cover with just a little bit of water as cabbage is better if it cooks with less water. Cover with a clay lid and put in the oven for about four hours. From time to time check and add little water so it doesn’t dry out and burn the bottom.
You can make similar pot with sauerkraut instead of the fresh cabbage. That meal is popular over the winter as everywhere around Balkans.

Lamb sour broth from Lika

1lb/0.5 kg lamb for stew (cubed)
1 bunch of soup herbs (parsley etc..)
½ cup rice
½ cup cubed kohlrabi
½ cup chopped kale
2 egg yolks
4 garlic cloves
1 chopped onion
1 bay leaf
Lemon juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup of sour cream or thick yogurt

Chopped green parsley leafs

Cook the rice rinse with cold water and set aside. At a same time put a meat in large pot and fill ¾ with water and meat. In a large pan, sauté all vegetables and herbs, for about ten minutes. When meat starts boiling, clean the scum at a top with a spoon and add content of another pot with sautéed vegetables in it. Cook for about 1 hour to hour and a half.
Prepare egg yolks by mixing it with sour cream and lemon juice in a separate bowl. At the end of cooking add cooked rice, then take the soup of the stove and immediately in a still hot content, add the egg-lemon mixture. Mix well. Serve with chopped parsley.

Calf liver with cheese

1 lb calf liver sliced
1 large onion
3 eggs
1 cup of crushed soft goat/sheep cheese of you choice mixed with some grated semi-hard cheese type – kachkaval

Sauté finely chopped liver on little bit of olive oil until half done. Add chopped onion and cook more until almost done. Top over mix of eggs and cheese and don’t mix anymore. Cover with lid, turn down the heat and cook until eggs are cooked and cheese melts. Serve with ajvar or tomato salad.

Lika’s plum cake
2 cups of flour
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup olive oil
1 cup homemade plum jam
3 tbsp plum brandy
1 cup milk
2 tsp instant yeast

Let yeast proof in a cup of warm milk. Meantime mix other ingredients and add yeast at the end. Place mass in greased round pan and bake in preheated oven on 180 C for about ½ hour. Check the middle before removing from the oven.

Lamb and veggies pot

1 lb lamb or veal
3 onions chopped

3 carrots,
3 parsley roots
3-4 garlics chopped
½ cup rice
Chopped parsley, bay leaf
2-3 tomatoes
2-3 potatoes

In separate pans, saute cubed meat until gets dark skin and veggies sliced to pieces with garlic and herbs for few minutes. Season.
In deep clay pot put layers of veggies than meat and then layer of rice etc.. At the end cover all with some stock of your choice and top with layer of sliced tomatoes and potatoes. Season again.
Cook covered in the oven at 230C for couple of hours until it gets nice dark colour and soft.

Bread (Pogaca) - Lika style with cheese

Fresh soft cheese on markets of Balkan

300 g semi firm goat or sheep cheese
½ cup olive oil
1 cup thick yogurt
1 tbsp baking powder
3 eggs

1 cup flour of your choice
½ tsp salt

Grate the cheese. Mix eggs with yogurt and oil. Add flour with baking powder into the mix. Add cheese.
Bake in small oiled pan at 180C/350F for about half an hour.
Serve with yogurt for breakfast or dinner.

Fig jam with vine

1 kg fresh figs                                         
1 cup wholesome sugar
½ cup red vine
3 tbsp rum

Wash figs and put in a pot on the stove. Put sugar over and vine. Cook over medium heat for about half an hour until they’re soft. Add rum at the end and place in pasteurized hot jars. Close with lids and let it rest and cool over the night.

Sage concentrated syrup juice


t 1 cup of young sage leafs
1 cup honey
2 oranges
2 lemons
2 l water
Cook water and honey for about half an hour. In a separate pot or big jar, place layer of sage leafs than sliced oranges and squeeze of lemon and so on..Cover it with hot honey-water mixture and let rest for couple of days covered.

Mix couple of tbsp. with water to make one cup of this healthy juice

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