Romanian cuisine, like culture, reflects the history and traditions of this country in every dish. Since ancient times, Romanians have been engaged in agriculture, hunting and livestock farming, a fact that is reflected even today in gastronomy. Romanian cuisine is very varied, here you can find vegetable, dairy and meat products or barbecue meats.
The dominations of other peoples, but also the migrations that happened over time, facilitated the penetration of Italian, Turkish, Balkan, Serbian, German and Balkan influences in the dishes of these places. Thus, 'ciulama', 'moussaca', stew, pots of all kinds, pilaf, but also desserts such as saraili and baklava appeared on Romanian tables.
But still, what does the range of traditional Romanian dishes consist of? Those that are not missing from any festive meal, that Romanians look for wherever they are, those that mean the taste of home. Read this article to find out.
Romanian cuisine divided by regions of the country
Romanian gastronomy is a broad subject. As a result, it is worth treating it in detail and talking about the specifics of each region:
- Transylvanian cuisine – it is represented by sweet side dishes, soups with 'rântaş' and sauces thickened with flour;
- Moldavian cuisine – it is famous for its pies with cabbage, meat or mushrooms;
- Dobrogean cuisine – is considered to be a paradise for fish lovers. The traditional recipes of these places are hundreds of years old;
- Muntenian and Oltenian cuisine – has French and Turkish influences. Fish, pork and poultry are particularly popular in Oltenia, and Muntenia is famous for dishes such as chicken 'ostropel', stews and lamb stew.
Next, we will present you the recipes of the most beloved dishes from Romanian cuisine.
'Sarmale' are among the most appreciated dishes in Romania and no one can refuse a portion of steaming 'sarmale', with cream and sour cream on the side. The taste of 'sarmale' is unmistakable, and their preparation is an art that can be interpreted in dozens of ways. In each region of the country, the 'sarmale' recipe has been modified in the spirit and according to the taste of the area. No matter which recipe you agree with, it is certain that they are all tasty, but the Moldavian 'sarmale' are consecrated all over the world.
- 500 grams of minced pork
- 2 onions
- 1 carrot
- 1 red bell pepper
- 200 grams of rice
- 1 tablespoon of broth
- A cup of tomato juice
- 500 ml sour borscht
- 1-2 sauerkrauts
- 4 tablespoons of oil
- Dill and green parsley
- Salt, pepper, paprika
Method of preparation:
Separate the leaves from the sauerkraut and rinse with water. Finely chop the onion and fry in oil, then add the finely chopped carrot and pepper. When the onion becomes transparent and the carrot softens, add the broth and keep on fire for a few more minutes. We put the pan aside and let the stewed vegetables cool.
In a large bowl, put the minced meat, the well-washed rice first, then the seasoned ingredients and the chopped greens, salt, pepper and paprika. Attention, when adding salt, the leaves of sauerkraut are already salty, so you should not overdo it with this spice. The composition is mixed very well, a spoonful of the composition is placed in each sheet of cabbage and folded.
At the bottom of the clay pot in which the 'sarmale' are to be cooked, put the chopped cabbage, the sprigs left over from the parsley and dill and the bay leaves. Then add the 'sarmale' in layers. Pour water and borscht over them, enough to cover them, then the tomato juice. The pot is put on the fire at low intensity for 1-2 hours. If the liquid in which the 'sarmale' are boiling decreases, add hot water. The 'sarmale' are tasted after the first hour of boiling, then they are checked as many times as you think is necessary.
Tips for tasty sausages
For guaranteed success, keep the following tips in mind:
- The meat for 'sarmale' must be fatter, as fat makes the 'sarmale' tender;
- For extra tenderness, add rice and onion to the 'sarmale';
- Placing the 'sarmale' in the pot is not done according to a specific rule; Our recommendation is to place a layer of chopped sour cabbage, a few sprigs of dried thyme and chopped onion on the bottom of the pot. Then lay the 'sarmale' in layers and intersperse with pieces of smoked meat or raw meat. They should not be piled up because the rice in them will increase its volume during the cooking process! Continue layering until the pots are full. However, you must leave 3-4 cm free so that there is also room for the juice in which the 'sarmale' are boiled. Add a new layer of chopped cabbage and sprigs of thyme on top of the 'sarmale';
- 'Sarmale' are boiled either in the metal pot placed on direct fire (on the stove) or in the oven (in metal or ceramic pots). In both cases, the 'sarmale' are cooked under the lid and on low heat. Boiling the 'sarmale' (on low heat) takes approx. 1.5 – 2 hours calculated from the moment they boil in mass. The tastiest 'sarmale' are made in the oven, at a low temperature (150 C) and their cooking takes 3-4 hours.
Piftie (Pork aspic) or cold meat, as it is popularly known, is a delicacy that is not missing from the Romanian holiday table. For a pork chop to be tasty, you need a lot of garlic and salt. Piftie is generally served as an appetizer, but it can also be eaten with bread as a main course, especially after the New Year.
- 1 pork stew
- pig ears
- 2 pork legs
- 1 celery
- 2-3 carrots
- 5 cloves of garlic
Method of preparation:
Bring the pork to a simmer in enough water to cover the ingredients.
Foam the meat as often as necessary, and when it is no longer necessary, check if the fork goes into the meat.
When the fork goes into the meat, add the cleaned vegetables and continue to cook on low heat.
When the meat comes off the bones very easily, that's when you turn off the heat.
Remove both the meat and vegetables from the water, using a slotted spoon, and let them cool slightly.
Meanwhile, put the chopped garlic in the water, and leave it like that for a few minutes.
After the meat has cooled enough to handle, tear it into small pieces, then place them in containers of the desired size.
Along with the meat, you can also put the vegetables cut into large cubes in the containers.
Strain the juice and discard the garlic, then pour the juice over the meat and vegetables.
Refrigerate the pie for a few hours, until it solidifies.
There are many variations of peasant soup, depending on the tastes of each geographical area. We will present you one of the basic recipes that are prepared everywhere in Romania.
- 650-700 g pork leg (or cutlet)
- 2-3 carrot roots
- 1-2 parsley roots
- 1 small piece of celery (optional)
- 1-2 larger onions
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1 capsicum (or red/yellow/green bell pepper)
- 1-2 fresh tomatoes (optional)
- 200-250 ml tomato juice
- approx. 500 ml cabbage juice (borscht or lemon juice)
- salt, to taste
- ground pepper, to taste
- sweet or hot paprika, to taste (optional)
- 2-3 larger potatoes
- 3-4 tablespoons of oil (for sauteing the vegetables)
- 1 bunch of chopped green parsley (for serving)
Method of preparation:
Start by preparing the meat because it boils harder than the vegetables and will need to boil for about half an hour. In a larger pot, boil 3-4 l of water. Wash the meat well, cut it into cubes and put it to boil. Periodically remove the foam that forms, and while the meat is boiling, deal with the vegetables.
Peel the potatoes, onion, garlic, carrot, parsley and celery, then wash them well. Wash the tomatoes and cut them into cubes, not very large. Also, wash the capsicum and cut it into slices. You will finely chop the onion, you will give the roots on a large grater, and you will cut the potatoes into cubes.
Put a pan on the heat, saute the onion first, then add the vegetables, except the potatoes. Sauté them over high heat for about 5 minutes. Stir constantly so it doesn't stick to the pan and burn.
When the meat is almost cooked, add the sauteed vegetables to the pot and let it boil for about 20 minutes. Add the potatoes at the end so they don't crumble and leave to boil for another 15-20 minutes. At the end, add the tomato juice and salt and let it boil for about 5 minutes. At the end, turn off the heat and season with spices to taste. For extra flavor, add the crushed garlic right at the end.
Peasant soup is served with finely chopped green parsley, hot peppers and sour cream.
Smoked bean roast
Smoked bean stew is a traditional Romanian recipe suitable for any time of the year. Here's how you prepare it:
- 500 g dried beans
- 250 g smoked ribs
- 1 large onion
- 3 tablespoons broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 tablespoons of oil
- a few strands of walnut
Method of preparation:
Put the beans in a pot of cold water and let them soak overnight until morning.
Put the beans to boil in a pot of water. After 30 minutes drain the water, add a new one and let it boil for an hour and a half on low heat. When it's cooked, you'll need to drain the beans, but you'll retain all the water they cooked in for the next step.
In a deep pot, saute finely chopped onion in hot oil.
When the onion has softened, add the smoked ribs cut into strips and cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the broth, mixing quickly.
Add the drained beans over the rind and 3 ladles of hot water in which the beans were boiled.
Add the bay leaves, thyme, pepper and salt.
Let the lamb cook on medium heat until the sauce reduces.
Before serving, I sprinkled with some finely chopped green chives. We can serve this bean roast with smoked ribs with a red onion salad, pickles or a white cabbage salad with dill.
We hope that all these recipes will ease your homesickness and provide you with rich meals and beautiful moments spent with your family. You can find the necessary ingredients in our Romanian store, A&S Market.