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Romanian Food: Take a Hearty Bite Out of Romanian Cuisine With These 39 Dishes & Drinks
Few are the tourists who make it across the Romanian border and leave without a few extra pounds. Thanks to the fact that the quality of Romanian food is nothing short of exceptional.
Some will say that while visiting this Romania, whether it be in Transylvania or lesser known parts of the country, you will feast your eyes on some fantastic natural beauties. In reality, you will also literally feast, so make sure to pack some loose pants and make time to enjoy these meals.
So, just to make sure you are not wasting any opportunities when you are in a restaurant, here are the most popular Romanian food & drinks you can’t miss while visiting Romania.
A vegetable paste made in autumn from the harvested vegetables and served on bread throughout the rest of the year. Baked eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms go into it. But recipes may vary.
2. Eggplant Salad
Baked eggplants are chopped minutely and are mixed with either chopped onions or mayonnaise. It is served on bread, although some restaurants may throw in some salty cheese and tomatoes to complete the platter.
3. Devilled Eggs
This Romanian dish is more an appetizer you will find in the homes of Romanians around every major holiday. Hard-boiled eggs are cut in half. The boiled yolk is mixed with liver pate, turned into a paste, then used to fill the egg white.
4. Boeuf Salad
Usually a French dish, Boeuf salad will be served around every major holiday, in restaurants, but mainly in people’s homes.
It is made of boiled chicken or beef, potatoes, carrots, parsnip, pickled cucumbers, all mixed in with mayonnaise, mustard and some lemon juice.
5. Cold Cuts Platter
Pastrami, salami, muscle, sausages and other delicacies will go on this platter. It will be paired with salty cheese (telemea), chopped onions, mustard, and bread. A very rural spread!
6. Roe Salad
You will particularly find this very popular Romanian food in fish restaurants in cities or in their more authentic counterparts situated by the sea or in the Delta, cherhana (a place where you eat directly what has been caught by the fishermen). This salad is prepared with the freshest roe, oil and a pinch of salt.
This is a sour soup, and you will find it EVERYWHERE. Totally typical Romanian cuisine.
You will discover that Romanians are more prone to choose these over the sweet soups any day. They are made with meat, vegetables, served with bread, sour cream and hot peppers. You can have tripe ciorba, chicken or beef ciorba, beans and vegetable ciorba. In the menus, you find them under ciorba de burta, ciorba radauteana, ciorba de fasole, ciorba de pui a la grec.
Romanian Main Courses
This is THE most Romanian dish of all. It is minced meat, rice and onions, rolled in sour or sweet cabbage or in vine leaves. It is served with soft polenta and sour cream.
Well-seasoned red meat, minced and grilled to perfection. Legend has it that this Romanian food was invented in a Bucharest trains station restaurant when one of the clients asked for sausages but the owner was out of the casing and only served the grilled filling.
People usually eat them with fries and a salad or pickles, or just with bread and mustard.
You will find variations of this dish. It is basically soft and hot polenta, poured over salty cheese, with pork meat and a fried egg on top. Bulz is the shepherd’s version of it, and it is made with polenta and cheese alone. Best check the explanations on the menu.
12. Fasole Cu Ciolan
This is bean stew with pork and ham. Some versions of it may be served with sausages. It pairs excellently with pickles and polenta.
13. Mamaliga Cu Branza Si Smantana
Some people have this Romanian cuisine for an appetizer, while others claim to get full on this dish alone. It is soft polenta served with cottage cheese and sour cream. The dish is very simple and very delicious, and you will find it in many restaurants throughout the country.
If you visit Romania around Easter, you will see this dish in restaurants and at festive meals. It is something like a meatloaf with hard boiled eggs inside.
The ingredients for the loaf are cooked minced lamb organs, green onions, eggs, herbs, and milk-soaked bread. Some people replace lamb meat with chicken or turkey.
Or meatballs. They can be made from any type of meat, preferably pork, or the lighter version with chicken or turkey. Some restaurants like to spruce up the recipe and cover them in sesame.
16. Pomana Porcului
This dish means “honoring the pig,” and it is served after the animal has been sacrificed for the Christmas dinner. But you do not have to travel to Romania around Christmas to have it, as it is a regular in the menus of many restaurants.
The pork is stewed with delicious tomato sauce, garlic, and herbs; then it is served with soft polenta.
This is the name of any meat or vegetable stew. Romanians can be very creative in their combinations, so you just wait and see what you find on the menu.
A special bean stew you can serve with pickles, meat, and soft polenta or bread.
19. Ciulama De Pui
This is chicken and mushrooms, served with a salty white sauce. There is also the version of chicken and mushrooms served in sour cream. Both of them are delicious. Vegetarians can opt for simple mushroom ciulama, as the sauce is made with flour, salt, and oil.
20. Ardei Umpluti
The same stuffing of sarmale is used to fill raw peppers. Therefore, minced beef or pork meat, rice and onions, are sorted, then used to stuff bell peppers. The whole thing goes in the oven or is boiled. You eat them just like sarmale, with sour cream and polenta.
Fish restaurants will have a wide variety of dishes. This is an oven baked fish with delicious vegetables such as onions and tomatoes.
22. Fried Fish
Romanians like to dunk all sorts of fish in a combination of beaten eggs and corn flour, fry them, then serve them with polenta and garlic sauce. And you will love to eat fish like this as well.
You will fall in love with this Romanian dessert. It’s cottage cheese, sweetened and combined with semolina. The mixture is given the shape of a doughnut, passed through bread crumbs and fried.
You usually get two papanasi in one serve. The doughnuts are covered with sour cream and jam and topped with a small ball made of the same ingredients. Watch out for portion sizes, though. Some restaurants tend to be very generous with theirs.
This is the equivalent of pancakes, but closer to the French crepes. You can have them with sweet cottage cheese and raisins, with chocolate or with delicious jams. If you are lucky enough, you might end up in a restaurant serving salty crepes with meat, cheese, and mushrooms.
This is the biggest challenge in Romanian cuisine. Think of this as a loaf of sweet and well-kneaded dough, wrapped around cocoa and minced nuts, Turkish delight, and raisins.
Kneading this dough is very demanding work, and it takes a long while to get it done right. However, the results are incredible, and Romanians cannot imagine Christmas or Easter without it.
You will probably have it if you travel around the holidays and stay at a hotel that offers a traditional dinner. Or you can simply pick it up from stores or fairs.
This is the Romanian version of the cheesecake. But unlike the cheesecake which can be served anytime, Pasca is only served at Easter. The dough is the same as with cozonac, so you can conclude that it is equally as hard to make. Confectioneries will have some good options if you want to try it out for yourself, and they will come with sweet cottage cheese, sweet sour cream or chocolate filling.
27. Poale-n Brau
This is a regional version of a pie. It looks like a little envelope made of dough, wrapped around delicious cheese filling. The best place to have these is at fairs. And if you find them, make sure you give them a try.
These are the Romanian version of the croissants. Instead of a puff pastry, Romanians use regular dough, wrapped around Turkish delight, jam, nut, and cocoa filling. They come in all sizes, depending on the filling and on the cooking style of each person.
You know something about this type of dessert from the Chinese cuisine. They are made with simple dough, wrapped around salty cheese like a pillow. Each little pillow is boiled and served with butter and sugar. Other versions may be filled with jam and fried.
You will find this in restaurants, so we figured you wanted to know what it is. Not a traditional dessert per se, but a dessert often found in restaurants. It consists of several scoops of ice cream, served with small eclairs and chocolate toppings.
31. Plum Dumplings
Pitless plums are covered in semolina and bread-crumbs, then fried. This is both a filling and refreshing dessert at the same time.
Doughnuts are different in Romania. They look like soft, yellow pillows which are served covered with powdered sugar. When you bite into them, you find that they are very fluffy and airy.
The Romanian version of a pie is different from the American version. It is usually made in a large, square tray, with one sheet of dough on the bottom, filling, and another sheet of dough on top. You can have it with sweet cottage cheese, apple, pumpkin, and even cabbage.
34. Romanian Wines
Romanian wines are world famous, and you will enjoy them.
Especially when paired with Romanian dishes. The best thing to do is to follow the recommendations of waiters.
Some of the most popular types of wine are Grasa, Tamaiosa, Feteasca Neagra, Busuioaca. Some of the most popular brands are Cotnari, Jidvei, Murfatlar, Beciul Domnesc. As far as expensive and old wines are concerned, it depends on the supplier of each restaurant.
Romanians will usually test your alcohol resistance when offering tuica. This is a spirit that can contain 40-55% alcohol by volume and it is only made of fermented plums. You will also find the cereal version of tuica under the name of rachiu, or the same thing as tuica under that other name.
Another strong spirit, made from apples, plums, pears, cherries, apricots and other fruits, is palinca. Just because it’s not tuica, do not think it is less of a challenge to drink.
This is a sour cherry brandy, sweet yet still very high in alcohol. Romanians like to make this brandy from various fruit and compose the name of the beverage by addind –ata after the name of the fruit. Most chances are, that if you are staying in traditional accommodation, or with locals, you will be served this beverage.
Other Romanian Food You Must Try
Pickles are an important part of Romanian cuisine. Most Romanians will pickle their own fruit and vegetables and compete with each other in how great the result is.
Literally, any vegetable can be pickled in a combination of salt and water. The most popular pickled foods are cucumber, green tomatoes, small watermelons, grapes, apples, cauliflower, carrots.
This Romanian garlic sauce is amazing. And we expect you will develop a taste for it by the end of your trip. Or, just like the locals, you can end up ordering food which you can eat with it.