Photo by Nicubunu. Romanian cuisine represents a greedy encounter between flavors of the West and the West , it is of poor origin but it is able to impress and leave satisfied even the most refined palates. Romanian dishes are also famous and appreciated internationally, the country’s gastronomy is very varied and the recipes, a bit like it also happens in Italy, vary from region to region. The traditional menu, however, is very similar: it usually starts with an appetizer of vegetables, cheeses and meat, a first course based on soup, a second course of meat or fish with a side dish, pickles or salad. You can’t miss the dessert, they are often the typical ones linked to the holiday period.
Here ‘s what you eat in Romania: typical dishes, advice and curiosities about Romanian cuisine.

10 Typical dishes of Romania

1 – Mici or mititei
They are the Romanian version of our sausages, in reality they are a cross between sausage and meatballs as they are elongated and made up of a mixture of pork, beef and sheep, enriched with a mix of typical traditional spices based on pepper, garlic, savory and other aromas that change from region to region.
After preparation, they are cooked on the grill and served with a flavored mustard sauce.

  • Recommended for : lunch, dinner
  • Average cost : about € 6.00 per portion
  • Main ingredients : beef, pork and sheep, spices

2 – Mamaliga
It is an ancient recipe and also appears in the most famous novel set in Romania, or “Dracula” by Bram Stoker: “[…] For breakfast more paprika, a kind of corn meal that they call mamaliga [.. .] “. The dish is very similar to polenta, it is in fact a corn pie served with a sheep’s cheese known as branza and other preparations such as fried golden onions, eggs, salted fish or tochitura.
It is widespread throughout Romania in all its variations , and is traditionally prepared in the ceaun, a special cast aluminum casserole.

  • Recommended for : lunch, dinner
  • Average cost : about € 5.50
  • Main ingredients : corn flour, water

3 – Ciorba
Photo of Nicubunu. One of the most popular dishes of Romanian cuisine is the ciorba, an acid soup made from fermented bran , sometimes prepared with the addition of tripe, chicken meat or vegetables.
In reality, this dish has many versions , according to the various areas of Romania: ciorba de perisoare (ciorba with meatballs), ciorba de vitel (veal ciorba), de vacuta (ciorba with beef) and de pui (ciorba of chicken), but also ciorba de peste (fish ciorba) or ciorba de urzici (nettle ciorba).

  • Recommended for : lunch, dinner
  • Average cost : about € 4.50
  • Main ingredients : fermented bran, tripe or various types of meat, vegetables

4 – Tochitura cu mamaliguta
It is a dish very similar to our stew or meat stew , in the Romanian version it can be based on beef or pork and has two variants: with or without tomato sauce.
In the more traditional version, in addition to meat, smoked sausage, various offal such as liver, lung and heart and garlic are also added. The stew is usually served together with mamaliga , the Romanian version of polenta.

  • Recommended for : lunch, dinner
  • Average cost : around € 8.50
  • Main ingredients : beef or pork, offal, polenta

5 – Sarmale
This is a typical dish not only of Romania and Hungary, but it is widespread almost everywhere in all the Balkan countries. These are cabbage rolls, pickled cabbage or vine leaves , filled with minced meat, rice, egg, onion and semolina.
They are then cooked in a pot with water, a little oil and a pinch of salt, in some regions the recipe also provides for the addition of smoked bacon in the pot. Usually, they are served with sour cream .

  • Recommended for : lunch, dinner
  • Average cost : about € 5.20
  • Main ingredients : cabbage, ground beef, rice, egg, onion and semolina

6 – Musaca
Photo by RobertK. Also this dish, typical above all of Greece, is widespread not only in Romania but also in many regions of the Balkans .
Each country has its own recipe and version, the typical Romanian dish and outwardly very similar to our lasagna , but the filling includes alternating layers of minced pork, chicken or veal, potatoes, aubergines, courgettes and other vegetables.
The inside is then flavored with garlic, chilli and bechamel.

  • Recommended for : lunch, dinner
  • Average cost : around € 8.00
  • Main ingredients : ground pork, chicken or veal, potatoes, aubergines, courgettes and other vegetables, garlic, chilli, bechamel

7 – Salata de boeuf
Photo by I am the author. It is a typical appetizer of Romania and Moldova, usually prepared and served on holidays and special occasions. And a combination of shredded beef (sometimes chicken or turkey) and vegetables , all coated in mayonnaise and enriched with muraturi, pickled vegetables.

During the holiday season it is prepared in large quantities and also eaten as a side dish. Although the name of the dish may sound vaguely French, it is actually of Russian origin.

  • Recommended for : lunch, dinner
  • Average cost : about € 5.00
  • Main ingredients : beef or chicken or turkey, vegetables, pickles

8 – Urda
Photo by Illustratedjc. Urda is a typical cheese from Romania , a dairy product obtained by cooking whey. It is very similar to Italian ricotta. It is a dairy product of very ancient origin, with a fresh and delicate flavor, and is often used in the preparation of desserts and as a filling for pasta .
Many other countries of the Balkan area claim the invention of the urda, and in fact a very popular and common cheese not only in Romania, but also in Macedonia, Moldavia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia.

  • Recommended for : lunch, dinner, snack
  • Average cost : about € 5.50
  • Main ingredients : cow, sheep and goat milk

9 – Frigarui
This typical Romanian dish is very similar to both our mixed skewers and shashlik or shish kebab. These are in fact small pieces of meat (usually pork, beef, mutton, lamb or chicken) grilled on a skewer . The pieces of meat alternate with bacon, sausages or vegetables, such as onions, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms.
To make everything tastier, it is seasoned with spices such as pepper, garlic, salt, rosemary, marjoram and bay leaf.

  • Recommended for : lunch, dinner
  • Average cost : about € 5.00
  • Main ingredients : marinated mixed meat, vegetables

10 – Pastrami
Photo of Erika39. Pastrami is a gastronomic specialty of Jewish and Balkan origin, exported to America in the early twentieth century. To date, it is considered a typical street food , especially in America. It is a beef-based dish usually served in a rye bread bun with mustard and gherkins.
It was born in the Middle Eastern and Turkish countryside , then moved to the Romanian ones, where it quickly became a traditional gastronomic specialty.

  • Recommended for : lunch, dinner, snack
  • Average cost : €6.00
  • Main ingredients : meat and beef in brine

Typical sweets of Romania
The simplicity of Romanian cuisine is reflected a lot in its typical sweets, known and appreciated also in the rest of Europe, which are usually based on a few but tasty ingredients. In a very similar way to the Italian tradition, Romanian desserts are often typical of a festive period , such as Christmas or Easter, and their preparation involves the whole family, an opportunity to be together and celebrate.

1 – Salam de biscuiti
Photo of Lucarobertii. The appearance and taste of this typical Romanian dessert is also well known in Italy, as it is nothing more than the chocolate salami with biscuits. In the Romanian version, small pieces of lokum are added (a confectionery product made of starch and sugar, with a gelatinous consistency) and flavored with rum.
The salam de biscuiti was born in the kitchens of housewives in the years of deprivation under the communist dictatorship , when there was not much choice in the shops. The main ingredients are in fact dry biscuits, lokum, cocoa powder, sugar, butter and milk.

  • Average cost : about € 2.50
  • Main ingredients : dry biscuits, lokum, cocoa powder, sugar, butter and milk

2 – Cozonac
Photo of Vvssmmaann. A typical dessert of Romania, but also of Bulgarian, Albanian cuisine and the whole area of ​​Eastern Europe. It is a typical holiday specialty, especially Christmas and Easter, in the shape of a braid and with a soft texture .
According to tradition, it is prepared a few days before Christmas , it is stuffed with a cream based on cocoa, chopped nuts and sugar. It must be prepared a few days in advance precisely because the leavening is slow.

  • Average cost : €7.00
  • Main ingredients : flour, sugar, yeast, honey, eggs, milk, nut butter, cocoa

3 – Papanasi
Photo of Nicubunu. A dessert that is not more typical, more apanasi are pancakes , one in the shape of donuts and one spherical, positioned one above the other and covered with whipped cream and cherry or berry sauce. The mixture of pancakes is based on abundant doses of urda cheese.
Also this sweet is typical of the holidays and is very popular among Romanians, they have become famous beyond the borders thanks to the film “Gran Budapest Hotel”.

  • Average cost : €10.00
  • Main ingredients : urda (or other similar cheese), cherries or berries, flour, cream, sugar and yeast

Drinks and liqueurs: what you drink in Romania
Sharing alcoholic beverages in Romania means consolidating friendships and family . The gesture of drinking grappas and liqueurs, as in almost all Balkan countries, is very traditional and is reflected in the abundance of typical alcoholic products . Few people know that Romania has the same latitude as France, this means that the climatic conditions are favorable for the cultivation of grapes from which excellent wines will then be produced.

1 – Palinca
Photo of T.MESE. Palinca is a traditional Romanian alcoholic drink made from various fruits , such as plum, pear, apricot, peach, apple, cherry, berries or quince.
Unlike Tuica, it is distilled from two to five times , thus reaching over 50 ° of alcohol. Widespread in Romania almost like coffee in Italy, it is usually consumed when it’s cold, at the beginning of a meal.

  • Average cost : €6.00
  • Main ingredients : fruits such as plum, pear, apricot, peach, apple, cherry, berries or quince

2 – Vin fiert
Very similar to our mulled wine, vin fiert is a hot drink made from wine (traditionally red), sugar and aromatic spices (usually cinnamon and cloves, lemon peel, star anise, apple and some mandarin wedge).
It is consumed mainly during Advent , it is also found in the typical Christmas markets or during the popular winter festivals. The custom of drinking vin fiert is widespread all over the world, to face the coldest days with a comforting hot drink.

  • Average cost : €4.00
  • Main ingredients : red wine, sugar, spices, fruit

3 – Tuica
Photo by Jessie Pearl. Like palinca, tuica is also a typical Romanian liqueur usually offered at the beginning of a meal and synonymous with conviviality. It is usually obtained by distilling plums, but it can also be prepared from cherries, pears and apples.
According to recent statistics, it appears that over 70% of Romania’s plum harvest is used in tuica production . Furthermore, in many regions of the country, hot tuica with sugar and black peppercorns are drunk on cold winter evenings.

  • Average cost : €5.00
  • Main ingredients : plums or cherries, pears and apples

Tips and curiosities: where to eat and what to avoid
Romanian cuisine is of poor origin , it is simple and based on the use of few and genuine ingredients. Soups are very consumed and appreciated , the variations of the classic ciorba in fact are countless, since each region has its own typical recipe. Meat specialties are very popular, but are usually eaten with a side of vegetables, especially stewed or pickled.
One of the most unusual preparations, but which in Romania enjoys some success, is bear meat, recommended only for the most daring palates and stomachs , as it has a rather strong texture and flavor.
Romanian street food is widespread and varied, especially during the Christmas period and during popular holidays, the foods offered are usually good and genuine , although it is better to avoid meat (especially cats) if you are not absolutely sure of its origin.

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