Нагорещени камъни

Cooking food with hot stones – one of the old Bulgarian traditions

The preparation of food and drink with the help of hot stones is an ancient technology, mastered to perfection in Bulgaria. In the 1940s and 1950s, the shepherds from Targovishte area regularly diversified their lunch from bread, some cheese, and onions, with pumpkin roasted directly on the field.

On a large round stone, they covered a halved pumpkin

This happened in late autumn when the harvest was picked up and the cattle grazed freely in the fields. In the cold mornings, the shepherds lit a fire on the field to keep warm. In the hearth, they threw a large round stone, and on it, they covered a halved pumpkin. Then they followed the animals, and when they returned to the fire in the early afternoon, the pumpkin was ready to eat. Sometimes, if there was a dairy sheep, goat, or cow nearby, the shepherds milked fresh milk directly on the roasted pumpkin. It added extra splendor to the warm shepherd’s dessert.


Roasting pumpkins on an open fire with the help of hot stones is practiced by children in the Bulgarian villages of the Central Stara Planina. The so-called “picked milk” was also prepared with hot stones. The recipe was brought by a settler who emigrated in the late 19th or early 20th century from the village of Dukat, Kyustendil region, today in the western suburbs of Bulgaria. He settled in Targovishte district and brought with him his sheep, goats, cows, oxen, buffaloes.

In the Strandzha region, a hot stone is placed in the whey squeezed from the cheese

He and his family prepared the “picked milk” at the end of August when the sheep gave their fattest milk. It was collected for several days and poured into a tub. The settler took a hot stone and “swirled” it through the milk inside the tub. The processed milk according to memories was very thick, greasy, and very tasty and did not spoil for a long time.

In the Bulgarian traditions, there are more examples of using stones heated in an open fire in the preparation of various dishes. In the Strandzha region, a hot stone is placed in the whey squeezed from the cheese. This prepares it to get the oil out of it. In the Rhodopes, a lamb wrapped in its skin is roasted in a trap lined with preheated stones, embers, and ashes. Preheated stones are used in the preparation of the ancient drink “olovina” and for making hot melted cheese.

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