Its unusual and rich flavor is due to an uncommon and rather little-known spice called "grinded salt". And no, I'm not talking about ordinary salt which is simply ground. I'm talking about a nice and fragrant mix of herbs and seasonings made in a small town named Kratovo. Apart from being known for its distinctive medieval architecture, this Macedonian town also benefits from its location. Situated under the Osogovo Mountain which abounds in herbs, mushrooms and most delicious blueberries, Kratovo is also known for this wonderful spice which is considered as a delicacy on its own.
And it's a delicacy with a very old tradition: some recipes even date a few centuries ago! Each Kratovo family has its own version of the recipe, adding some secret ingredients to the few "standard" ones, combining more that 10 different flavors! Each ingredient is carefully roasted and then everything is being ground by hand using big wooden or stone pestle and mortar (and hence the name "ground salt" - originally k'cana sol). And the most interesting thing is that in spite of its name, grinded salt is not even salty!
The most common way to use grinded salt is to sprinkle it over a fresh and warm Peta, an authentic wheat and rye bread baked in a wood-fired black oven. But there are so many other ways to consume it: you can add it to soups, grilled meat and vegetables, and a simple scrambled egg enriched with this spice will be a real treat!
Here I will share one of the many versions of the recipe for grinded salt, one that is very much simplified and "modernized". But if you ever have a chance to visit Kratovo and Macedonia, do not miss to buy some authentic one. Don't worry, you won't need to look high and low for it as it can be found in almost any market in the country and for quite a low price.
I really don't know what else can I say except that you should prepare this dish as soon as convenient and enjoy it! :)
This is what you'll need to make a ø26 cm pie:
for the grinded salt spice mix:
- Roast cornmeal and sweet paprika into a pan over medium fire, without adding any grease, stirring very often until it starts changing its color. Remove from fire and put the mixture into a bowl to cool.
Than add the rest of the ingredients and ground everything using a pestle. You can use blender for the most "modernized" version.
Store it sealed into a jar away from direct sunlight for up to few months.
And here's how it looks like...
2. In a bowl, combine polenta, salt, parsley, red pepper flakes and grinded salt.
3. Put 700 ml of water into a pot and bring it to boiling. Gradually add the polenta mixture while stirring and cook for a minute, or until it starts thickening. Transfer the mush into a lightly greased baking pan and flatten it by gently pressing with a spoon or a spatula.
4. Sprinkle with crumbled white cheese, then with grated yellow cheese.
5. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt, than stir in sour cream. Pour the mixture evenly on the top of cheese. Sprinkle with some sesame and/or caraway seeds if you wish.
You can serve it with some more sour cream or yogurt, or along some fresh salad.