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I'm currently travelling in the Balkans and have previously had surprising difficulty finding the national dish in some countries.

Here in Albania the national dish is tavë kosi, baked lamb and rice with yoghurt sauce, which to me sounds divine.

Tavë kosi in a small eatery in Berat, Albania.

But so far in Shkodër, Tiranë, Durrës, and Berat it never seems to be on the menu in typical little street restaurants or even in the two slightly more expensive traditional restaurants aimed at tourists that I've visited.

What does a gastronomic tourist need to know to find tavë kosi in Albania? Is it perhaps seasonal, only made in the home, only available on certain days of the week, only common in certain areas, more likely to be found in fancy expensive restaurants, or in small street ones that a tourist might not spot easily?

If it is more common in some regions, I'm currently in Berat and will visit Sarandë and possibly Gjirokastër.

(I have tried tavë dheu which seems to often be suggested as an alternative but it contains offal, which I'm not a great fan of)

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Hehe, from our conversation on meta:

"You should try Tave Kosi in Elbasan - where it's originally from, 1.5 hours SE of Tirana."

Of course, if you're not in the area or have been through there already, it could be trickier. One way could be to befriend a local, and get them to help you cook it - it'd be a great cultural experience. Recipe available here - although they may have a local one.

Also from a bit of vague referencing on forums, it looks like restaurant "Mangalem" in Berat may well serve it, when in season. I can only find google search results with this in them though, once you click through the site is no longer showing the information.

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Curses, Restaurant Uldedaj-Liss in Lezha also serves it, but you're south of that town now (members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/1b09d9) –  Mark Mayo Oct 2 '11 at 23:39
    
I did try Mangalem in Berat. They looked very fancy but their prices were the same as everybody else's. But they didn't have tavë kosi! I did find a place through my (English) hostel owner though and I'll include a photo. –  hippietrail Oct 9 '11 at 8:02

ERA Restaurant, Tirana, 2 locations has excellent Tave Kosi but it's usually sold out by early lunchtime. Also has many other traditional dishes.

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do you have an address for the restaurant? –  Mark Mayo Jun 12 '13 at 0:40

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