Want to learn more about traditional food from Romania? Here’s a list of some of the most popular dishes and an introduction to Romanian cuisine as well as a brief explanation of each dish.
Sarmale is a popular Romanian dish that is believed to originate from the Wallachia region. It comprises of minced pork, rice, eggs, and a selection of spices (usually salt, black pepper, and paprika).
The ingredients are mixed and cooked before being stuffed and rolled into a cabbage leaf from a whole sour cabbage. Vine leaves may also be used for rolling. A plate of Sarmale is usually served with Mămăligă (polenta) or sour cream in line with Romanian culinary traditions.
Mămăligă is a traditional Romanian dish that comprises of a porridge prepared primarily from yellow maize flour. In Western European countries, this dish is similar to polenta with many even calling it the Romanian version of polenta.
Mămăligă is a staple and a very common substitute for bread in Romania. It is often paired with many dishes to form popular combinations that are consumed throughout the country.
It can be served with sour cream and cheese. Another popular option to serve is to crush it in a bowl of hot milk. Mămăligă is also part of tocana, a traditional meal of pork. Bulz is another common dish that is virtually always served alongside Mămăligă (with cheese and butter) roasted in the oven.
Mici, or the small ones, is a popular dish in Romania comprising of grilled ground meat rolls. Ground meat is usually a mixture of beef, lamb, and pork with spices, such as garlic, black pepper, thyme, coriander, anise, and paprika.
Mici is typically served with french fries, mustard, and green pickled vegetables. They are a popular food commonly associated with outdoor grilling. Despite no official recognition, Mici is considered the de facto national food of Romania.
Ciorbă de burtă
Ciorbă de burtă, or tripe soup, is a traditional Romanian soup. The main ingredients of the soup are beef tripe (and bones for flavor), garlic, sour cream, and vinegar. Other common ingredients include carrots, celery roots, onions, parsnips, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, and olive oil.
The amount of water can vary according to preference. Ciorbă de burtă is bright yellow and is traditionally made very sour. The preparation involves slow-cooking for several hours before it is served warm.
Pomana Porcului is a traditional Romanian dish that comprises of pork meat and sausages. Traditionally the dish was only prepared used pig liver and kidneys but today pork belly or shoulder is the primary meat cut used.
The other ingredients include lard (or oil), garlic, white wine, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. The meat and sausages are cut into small to medium-sized pieces and fried in the lard until it reaches the distinctive brown crust.
Then the rest of the ingredients are added and cooked until the meat is tender. Pomana Porcului is traditionally served alongside Mămăligă.
Drob de miel
Drob de Miel is a traditional Romanian dish comprising of lamb offal. The various types of offal include liver, heart, lungs, kidney, and spleen) whereas other common ingredients in the dish include green onions, fresh dill, parsley, garlic, lovage, eggs, salt, pepper and bread soaked in water or milk.
The boiled offals are chopped and mixed with all other ingredients before being seasoned with salt and pepper. The caul of the lamb is then stretched over a loaf pan and is filled with the mixture. Drob de miel is usually consumed for dinners.
Salata De Boeuf
Salata De Boeuf, or beef/meat salad, is a traditional Romanian dish that comprises finely chopped meat (usually beef although pork loin, chicken, or turkey breast meat may also be used) and vegetables such as celery, onions, parsnips, and various pickled vegetables.
The salad is usually tossed in mayonnaise before being served. Salata De Boeuf is usually served during the festive season and celebrations.
Ciorba Radauteana, or Radauti soup, is a traditional soup in Romanian cuisine that is believed to originate from the Suceava county in northern Romania. The main ingredients of the soup are poultry without bones, onions, carrots, red pepper, celery, sour cream, lemons, garlic, salt, and pepper.
The preparation is relatively fast for a soup as the chicken is usually boiled in the water first and the scum is removed. Other ingredients are then added to the mix and boiled until the meat is tender.
The meat and vegetables are then removed except for carrots which continue to boil. The chopped ingredients are then returned to the pot and boiled for 10 minutes before being served hot. Adding garlic is optional and depends on personal preference.
Balmoș is another traditional polenta-like dish from Romania that closely resembles the Mămăligă. The main difference is that Balmoș is rich in cheese and milky texture. The main ingredients are whey, cornflour, butter, cheese (usually caș or branză de burduf), and salt.
The preparation is usually straightforward starting with bringing the whey to a boil on slow heat whilst continuously whisking it. The rest of the ingredients are then added and the mixture is whisked continuously for about 10 minutes until it reaches a homogenous consistency.
Balmoș is then allowed to rest in an oven which gives it a distinct crust. Balmoș can also be mixed with herbs like sesame seeds or thyme to add special flavors or a personal touch.
Moldavian stew is a traditional dish in Romanian cuisine that is famous in slight variations in different parts of the country. The key ingredients used are fatty pork (traditionally pork neck), smoked sausages (traditionally coarsely ground), lard, and cheese (usually branză de burduf).
Other ingredients to make the stew include onions, cloves, tomato paste, bay leaves, white wine, eggs, feta cheese, parsley, and vegetable oil. The stew is usually served alongside Mămăligă or Balmoș and pickled vegetables.
Carnati de Pleșcoi
Carnati de Pleșcoi, or Pleșcoi sausage, is a type of traditional Romanian delicacy that is believed to originate from the Pleșcoi village in eastern Romania. They are traditionally made from mutton mixed with local chili peppers and garlic. The mutton fat is usually balanced with small amounts of beef added to the mix.
The amount of beef is usually limited to less than half the mutton content in the sausage. Carnati de Pleșcoi is a certified protected geographical indication (PGI) product in the European Union and can only be procured directly from the producers in small quantities.
Ciulama de Pui (Creamed Chicken)
Ciulama de Pui, or creamed chicken, is a specialty dish in Romanian cuisine that is usually served during celebrations and festive season. The central ingredient of the dish is a large chicken that has been cleaned, skinned, and chopped into 8 pieces.
Additional thighs and legs can be added if needed as well. Other ingredients include diced yellow onion, minced garlic, carrots, celery, sliced mushrooms, all-purpose flour, cream, sweet paprika, sea salt, black pepper, chopped fresh parsley, and dill.
The dish is prepared in the form of a casserole and served straight out of the oven. It is also customary to include a chicken neck and gizzard in the mix for flavor. They are always removed before being served. Ciulama de pui is almost always served with Mămăligă.
Salata de Vinete
Salata de Vinete, or eggplant salad, is a traditional salad in Romanian cuisine. It comprises of eggplants, green onions, lemon juice, salt, and sunflower oil. The eggplants are cooked first and they can be either grilled, roasted, or baked.
The skin is then carefully removed and allowed to drain for an hour. The eggplant is then chopped and mixed with the rest of the ingredients. Everything is mixed well and may also be blended to result in a delicious spread. The most popular way to serve salata de vinete is to serve it on crusty bread topped with tomatoes and feta cheese.
Zacusca, literally meaning appetizer or snack, is a popular vegetable spread that is found throughout Romania and the Balkan States. The most common ingredients of zacusca include roasted eggplants, sautéed onions, tomato paste, and paprika.
Other optional ingredients include mushrooms, carrots, celery, bay leaves, oil, salt, and pepper. The ingredients are simply mixed or blended to form a smooth spread which may also be used as a relish. It is typically spread on bread and consumed directly.
Covrigi – Romanian Pretzels
Covrigi are traditional pretzels that are famous in Romania. The primary ingredients of covrigi include salted bread, topped with poppy seeds, or sesame seeds. Covrigi is plural of covrig which means round bread.
These Romanian pretzels are free from any sugars and may also be topped with salt, cheese and other toppings. Covrigi are ubiquitous throughout Romania as a popular snack food and are also bought as traditional holiday presents.
Frigărui is a popular dish in Romanian cuisine that comprises of small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer. The choice of meat is usually pork and beef but mutton, lamb, or chicken may also be used.
The dish is very similar to shish kebab from the Middle East and comprises pieces of marinated meat alternating with various other ingredients such as bacon, sausages, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and mushrooms.
The meat marinade is prepared using chopped herbs, yogurt, lemon juice, and sugar. The main herbs and spices used for seasoning are pepper, ginger, garlic, rosemary, marjoram, and laurel. Frigărui is then grilled on an indoor grill, or an oven and served fresh.
What is your favorite food from Romania? Leave a comment below!