Dubrovnik’s traditional recipes: Mantala

An old delicacy that is having a grand comeback

Mantala is a unique traditional sweet that can’t be found in stores. This Konavle dessert has been enjoyed in Dubrovnik households for centuries and is a beautiful dark brown colour adorned with orange leaves. It’s made during the grape harvest season and saved for special occasions like Christmas. The process of making Mantala starts with selecting the best grapes to make a grape syrup called Varenik. Seven kilograms of grapes are needed to make just one litter of Varenik by reducing the must! It is then mixed with coarsely ground wheat flour, almonds, orange and lemon peel, and spices like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The thick mixture is cooled and dried to create the delicious Mantala. For the best experience, Mantala is paired with a homemade liqueur. We bring you this ancient recipe to try at home!


1L Varenik (grape must syrup)

200g Homemade coarse wheat flour

2-3 cloves

1/2 tbs Ground nutmeg

2tbs Ground cinnamon

1 tsp grated orange and lemon peel

100 g Chopped almonds


Bring Varenik to boil. Add flour, spices and grated peels. Mix constantly and cook until it becomes firm. Add the chopped almonds.

Put wet gauze in a wooden mould and fill it with thick hose mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon and leave to cool for a few days or sometimes even weeks.

Mantala can save for at least 2 months in a cool and dark place (but not the fridge). After few months the taste starts to fade although it’s still edible.


Cut Mantala into squares and put on bitter orange and fresh bay leaves. Serve with homemade liqueur.