Sharena Sol, a Bulgarian spice mix

By Martin Zibauer »Martin Zibauer

October 21st, 2009

5 comments

I came across a reference to a Bulgarian spice mix, sharena sol (translation: colourful salt) last summer, and that got me tinkering. The combination described on Wikipedia–ground savory, paprika, and salt–seemed both simple and unusual. With nothing more to go on, I mixed up equal quantities of the three, and came up with a winner: a clean, fresh combo that’s reminiscent of commercial steak spice mixes, but more straightforward. Try it.

Without a recipe, though, I wasn’t not sure I made the real thing. Some more poking around turned up a reference to fenugreek seeds going in the mix, as well as this combo: salt, savory, black and red peppers, cornmeal, and ground pumpkin seeds. I also found the photo above–it looks like different variations of sharena sol are loaded into jars like sand paintings. That’s more work than I’m willing to do.

And finally I found, by accident and not far from where I live, a Bulgarian deli. Along with lamb sausages, I bought some packaged sharena sol. A comparison of the ingredient list and a taste-test confirmed my proportions weren’t far off. And since I bought bright red (therefore fresh) paprika and ground savory from a bulk food store with a lot of product turnover, I’d even say my version tasted better than the package that had come all the way from Bulgaria.

But still, does anyone have a recipe?

PHOTO: KIRIL KAPUSTIN, WWW.IMAGESFROMBULGARIA.COM

5 comments

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Marina

Jun. 11, 2010

7:18 am

I think you can't go wrong with sharena sol no matter what proportion you choose. The amounts depend on your taste. There are a lot of different recipes online but I think they are all in Bulgarian. Some of them are very far from the traditional sharena sol and include a variety of herbs like thyme, milfoil, common balm, spearmint, tutsan, etc. Milled pumpkin seeds are often added to the mix. The type I'm using now consists of savory, milled corn, salt, paprika, black pepper, cumin and fenugreek. It's delicious on warm buttered toast.


Martin Zibauer

Martin Zibauer

Jun. 9, 2010

2:52 pm

Thanks for dropping in. Was I basically correct in using equal proportions of salt, savory, and paprika? I'm intrigued by the fenugreek because the only other cuisine where I've seen it used is in Indian food.


Marina

Jun. 9, 2010

2:33 pm

I am Bulgarian and just wondered how to describe what sharena sol is to a person who has never heard of it. That's how I found your site. There are a lot of different combinations of spices which are typical for different regions in Bulgaria. The three main things - salt, savory and paprika - are the base and the rest is left to imagination and personal taste. There really is corn inside. It's like corn flour so you cannot see it. I don't know how it contributes to the taste but it's almost always in the mix. Mine also contains fenugreek, basil and cumin. Home-made is always better than packaged so feel free to experiment until you find the best combo for you :)


Martin Zibauer

Martin Zibauer

Mar. 23, 2010

7:05 pm

Damon, thanks for commenting. I'll add some more detail and put up a new post on sharena sol tomorrow.


Damon

Mar. 23, 2010

6:10 pm

The combination just sounds good. Funny really, I read of this seasoning on Wikipedia (Fenugreek) as well and it sparked my curiosity enough to warrant a little googling.... Do you have a recipe for what you came up with? I'd love to try and mix some up. Great work and accompanying research!


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