7 Romanian foods that everyone should try
Coming to Romania is a must for any travel enthusiast and food lover because there is such a richness in terms of traditional cuisine, that your senses will be absolutely spoiled with amazing and intense flavors. Romanian cuisine may not be as fancy as French cuisine, and it isn’t too spicy or too complicated either. But it is interesting and inviting, and it is the perfect comfort food!
1. Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls)
Considered to be Romania’s national dish, these stuffed cabbage rolls are actually of Turkish origins, but the Romanians claim that theirs are the best.
And they are probably right.
The initial recipe was strongly modified over time until it reached what is considered to be now the perfect stuffing. A balanced mixture of rice and minced meat (usually pork or pork combined with beef) and other vegetables and local herbs is rolled in cabbage leaves or young grape leaves for a delicate flavor.
The tastiest cabbage rolls are those slowly cooked in clay pots in the oven, covered with a little water, some cabbage brine for sourness, and some slices of traditional bacon for a tasty smoky touch. Traditionally served with mamaliga (often translated as polenta, this is a corn flour mush replacing bread in many traditional dishes) and sour cream, the Romanian cabbage rolls are not only delicious, but very creamy, consistent, and extremely satisfying.
2. Ciorba de burta (tripe soup)
When it comes to tripe soup, you either love it or hate it. This traditional food has a very strong aroma and a velvety texture which is the result of several hours of work. Besides the beef tripe, this dish also uses beef and pork legs which, are boiled for several hours in order to obtain the delicious soup.
Counterintuitively, the tripe is not the most important part of the dish, but the soup itself. Besides the bones, several vegetables are used to obtain its delicious taste, such as carrots, bell peppers, hot peppers, celery, and parsley.
Close to the end, a couple of garlic cloves are added in order to enrich the flavor, and everything is served with sour cream, hot peppers, and toast.
3. Salata de vinete (Roasted Eggplant Salad)
Photo source: Mancare.ro
One of the most cooked and eaten Romanian appetizers, the eggplant salad is the perfect choice for a quick snack and an amazing starter for a traditional Christmas dinner. It is easy and cheap to make, and you can top it with tomatoes or feta cheese.
The traditional way to prepare this appetizer is to roast the eggplants on a grill until they become really soft, but you can also roast them on the stove top or bake them in the oven. Afterward, all you have to do is remove the skin, chop them, and dress them either with sunflower oil and chopped onions or mayonnaise and garlic.
4. Drob de miel (Lamb Drob)
In the Romanian tradition, the Lamb Drob is a dish which is exclusively prepared during Easter.
The Lamb Drob is a delicious appetizer made with lamb offals (liver, lungs, spleen, heart, and kidneys), eggs, green onions, bread dipped in milk, and several herbs such as dill, garlic, and parsley.
This is one of the most popular Romanian dishes, and there are numerous variations of the recipe.
The Lamb Drob has a medium preparation difficulty, but to be honest, it’s not rocket science. The most important part is washing and preparing the lamb offals. Afterward, you just have to chop them, mix them with the rest of the ingredients, and bake them.
The Drob is best served cold with mustard and boiled eggs.
5. Tochitura moldoveneasca (Moldavian Stew)
There is nothing like the famous Moldavian stew, and there is no exaggeration in saying that this is the ultimate Romanian dish, as it combines the best traditional foods Romania has to offer: mamaliga (polenta), traditional salty fermented cheese, fried eggs, fried pork, traditional sausages, and pickles. It’s the perfect combination of tastes and textures.
It’s Romania on a plate!
The stars of this traditional dish are the pork and sausages, which are best cooked over an open fire in a cast-iron stew pot, but they can also be fried in a skillet. Over the delicious meat is then added white wine, tomato paste, onions, garlic, and bay leaves.
Time for some dessert!
This dessert was born in the rural poor areas, basically out of nothing!
At first, it was something similar to a sweet polenta but nowadays, alivenci are a true delight. It’s the perfect combination of milk, sour cream and butter with corn and wheat flour, raisins, and vanilla, served with fresh yogurt and some caster sugar. It’s a bit heavy but definitely worth trying!
7. Papanasi with sour cream and jam
A traditional dessert originating from the northern part of the country but popular among all Romanians, being available in almost every restaurant.
Papanasi are a kind of fried cheese doughnuts best served hot, with sweet and sour cream, and preferably, blueberry jam. Maybe it doesn’t sound too appetizing but the taste and the gummy texture combined with the blueberries’ sourness is absolutely divine!