Traditional Romanian Food: 14 Must-try Dishes!
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Last Updated on July 27, 2021
Romanian food might be the most underrated cuisine in all of Europe right now, and that simply means you’re guaranteed to be so delightfully surprised when you explore the delectable world of Romanian cuisine for yourself! Romanian dishes are, first and foremost, indulgent.
They’re meaty, sugary sweet, full of carbs, and perfect for keeping you warm and full through the winter months. These are the 14 best traditional Romanian dishes you need to discover and try as soon as possible!
If you are visiting Brasov, be sure to do a food tour of the city and dive deep into the food culture!
Traditional Romanian Food: 14 Must-try Dishes!
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The story goes that a Romanian chef who worked in a Bucharest kitchen back in the 19th Century one day ran out of skin for his sausages. In a fit of panic, he threw the pork meat on the grill with some spices, served it up with some mustard, and hoped for the best. The result was a meal which soon became a staple amongst Romanian dishes.
Mici is a celebrated and cherished dish in Romania and can be found at every local restaurant across the country. And it all began with some skinless sausages.
Scovergi are a simple Romanian street food that don’t get talked about enough. You don’t see them in restaurants; instead, they’re often found in hole-in-the-wall little bakeries. Scovergi are fluffy, fried flatbread wrapped around a range of different fillings to make a delicious sandwich-esque meal.
Typical fillings include cheese and sour cream, and extra ingredients are typically olives, dill, garlic, and ham. Scovergi are incredibly cheap and absolutely delicious. They make for a filling and satisfying lunch any day of the week.
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Officially, sarmale are Romania’s national dish. They’re grilled cabbage rolls wrapped around pork meat, onions, and garlic. A huge burst of warming and soothing flavours that really fills you up. Sarmale are cooked and eaten all year round, and you can find them at any and every Romanian restaurant.
Sarmale is the quintessential meal amongst traditional Romanian dishes, and given its status as Romania’s national dish it is certainly the one food you must try in Romania.
Ciorba simply means ‘soup’, and its name comes from the Persian ‘shorba’. So much Romanian cuisine has been influenced by invading cultures from east and west over the centuries, and ciorba is a great eastern example. Although soup can be found in cultures around the planet, they’re also all always unique.
Romanian ciorba is creamy, often filled with lumps of pork or strips of bacon, and flavoured with dill and garlic. By now you may have noticed that pork, dill, and garlic are true staples of Romanian cooking.
Drob de Miel
At first glance, drob de miel (often shortened to just drob) looks like meatloaf, or even a dark loaf of bread. In fact, it’s a long loaf of tightly packed pork offal blended with spring onions and other herbs. When sliced open, you can see in its centre an egg which is cleverly cooked inside the pork offal.
Drob is a traditional Romanian food that many Romanians grew up with. While offal is commonly found in meals across Europe, pork offal specifically is almost entirely unique to Romania.
Salata de Boef
Romania has a long history of adoring and respecting French culture, and sometimes you can see that in their language. Like here, with salata de boef (beef salad) it’s a traditional Romanian dish with a French name. Salata de boef is a blend of so many Romanian ingredients: beef, root vegetables, pickled veggies, all mixed with mayonnaise.
Typically, salata de boef is reserved for special occasions.
By now you can see how vital pork is to Romanian cuisine. And the purest example of that is jumari: pork rind. It’s the outer skin of the pig, sliced thin and served with salt. It makes for a great snack during the extremely cold Romanian winter months.
Salata de Vinete
Whether you call it aubergine or eggplant, it’s the key ingredient in salata de vinete. Although it’s called a salad, it’s actually more of a dip (think hummus) made from eggplant, egg yolks, mayonnaise, chopped onion, and mustard. It’s used in starters often in Romanian households and the recipe varies from family to family in true local style.
Not unlike mici, cighiri are large pork meatballs made from pork meat but also pork offal. This meat is mixed with various local herbs such as garlic and pepper to make large and filling pork meatballs that are a common household meal in Romania.
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Papanasi is the greatest of the Romanian desserts, and a generally irresistible Romanian dish. Essentially, papanasi are towers of fried doughnut, filled with yogurt, topped with another small ball of fried doughnut and drizzled in blueberry jam. Romanian cuisine is all about indulgence, and papanasi might be the very pinnacle of that.
Not many desserts come close to the enormous treat that is papanasi, made up entirely of things that everyone with a sweet tooth adores.
This is a mouth-watering local Romanian bread that’s only available at Christmas time. It’s a beloved local dish that’s bought and eaten by the truckload when Christmas comes around every year. The loaf is made with sugar to sweeten it, and the brown swirls you can see inside are made from hazelnuts or walnuts for even more sweetness and flavour.
Originally from the eastern Moldovia region of Romania (and what is now Moldova), alivenci is a thick custard tart which derives from Greek cheesecake and has become a traditional Romanian dish over the centuries.
Traditionally a Hungarian dessert which is now eaten all over Transylvania, vargabeles is a baked noodle pudding made with sweet cheese. Raisins, vanilla, and lemon are added for flavour and extra sweetness, turning it into a light and fluffy Romanian dessert.
Placinta cu Mere
‘Mere’ in Romanian means ‘apple’, and placinta cu mere is a sweet apple pie that’s eaten all over Romania. It’s sweetened and made irresistible by generous helpings of cinnamon, sugar, and even more grated apple before being baked and served hot.
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