What do you eat in Romania: typical dishes, advice and curiosities on Romanian cuisine

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Romanian cuisine represents a greedy encounter between flavors of the West and the West, is of poor origin but is able to impress and leave satisfied even the most refined palates. The dishes of Romania are famous and appreciated also at an international level, the gastronomy of the country is very varied and the recipes, a bit like in Italy, change 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. The dessert cannot be missing, often the typical ones linked to the holiday period.

Here what you eat in Romania: typical dishes, advice and curiosities about Romanian cuisine.


  1. 10 Typical dishes of Romania
  2. Typical sweets of Romania
  3. Drinks and liqueurs: what do you drink in Romania
  4. Tips and trivia: where to eat and what to avoid
  5. User questions and comments

10 Typical dishes of Romania

1 - Mici or mititei

They are the Romanian version of our sausages, actually they are a cross between sausage and meatballs as they are elongated in shape and made up of a mixture of pork, beef and sheep meat, 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 come cooked on the grill and serve with a flavored mustard sauce.

  • Recommended to: 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 about a corn pie served with a sheep's cheese known as brânza and other preparations such as pan-fried golden onions, eggs, salted fish or tochitura.

It is widespread throughout Romania in all its variants, is traditionally prepared in the ceaun, a special cast aluminum saucepan.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: around € 5,50
  • Main ingredients: corn flour, water

3 - Ciorba

One of the best known dishes of Romanian cuisine is the ciorba, a sour soup made from fermented bran, it is sometimes prepared with the addition of tripe, chicken meat or vegetables.

In fact this dish has many versions, according to the various areas of Romania: ciorbă de perişoare (ciorbă with meatballs), ciorbă de viţel (veal ciorbă), de văcuţă (ciorbă with beef) and de pui (chicken ciorbă), but also ciorbă de peşte (fish ciorbă) or ciorbă de urzici (nettle ciorbă).

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: around € 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 usually comes served together with mamaliga, the Romanian version of polenta.

  • Recommended to: 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. It is about 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 includes the addition of smoked bacon in the pot. Usually, they are served accompanied by sour cream.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: around € 5,20
  • Main ingredients: cabbage, ground beef, rice, egg, onion and semolina

6 - Musacá

Also this dish, especially typical 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 is 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 to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: around € 8,00
  • Main ingredients: minced pork, chicken or veal, potatoes, aubergines, courgettes and other vegetables, garlic, chilli, bechamel

7 - Salata de boeuf

It is a typical appetizer of Romania and Moldova, usually prepared and served on holidays and special occasions. IS a combination of chopped beef (sometimes chicken or turkey) and vegetables, all covered with mayonnaise and enriched with murături, pickled vegetables.

During the holiday periods 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 to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: around € 5,00
  • Main ingredients: beef or chicken or turkey, vegetables, pickles

8 - Urda

The urdă 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 it comes 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, it is in fact a very popular and common cheese not only in Romania, but also in Macedonia, Moldavia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia.

  • Recommended to: lunch, dinner, snack
  • Average cost: around € 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 it all tastier it comes seasoned with spices such as pepper, garlic, salt, rosemary, marjoram and bay leaf.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: around € 5,00
  • Main ingredients: marinated mixed meat, vegetables

10 - Pastrami

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 Middle Eastern and Turkish campaigns, then moving to the Romanian ones, where it quickly becomes a traditional gastronomic specialty.

  • Recommended to: lunch, dinner, snack
  • Average cost: € 6,00
  • Main ingredients: meat si beef in brine

Typical sweets of Romania

The simplicity of Romanian cuisine is very much reflected in its typical sweets, known and appreciated also in the rest of Europe, which are usually based on a few but tasty ingredients. Much like the Italian tradition, the sweets of Romania are often typical of a holiday period, like Christmas or Easter, and their preparation involves the whole family, an opportunity to be together and celebrate.

1 - Salam de biscuiti

The appearance and taste of this typical Romanian dessert is also well known in Italy, since 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 biscuiți 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: around € 2,50
  • Main ingredients: dry biscuits, lokum, cocoa powder, sugar, butter and milk

2 - Cozonac

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, 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

A dessert that cannot be more typical, more apanasi they are pancakes, one in the shape of donuts and one spherical, placed one on top of the other and covered with whipped cream and cherry or berry sauce. The pancake dough is based on abundant doses of urda cheese.

This dessert is too typical of holidays and is very popular among Romanians, they have become famous beyond 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 do you drink in Romania

Sharing alcoholic beverages, in Romania, means to consolidate relationships of friendship and family. The gesture of drinking grappa and liqueurs, as in almost all Balkan countries, is very traditional and mirrors itself 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

La Palinca is a traditional Romanian alcoholic drink that is gets from various fruits, such as plum, pear, apricot, peach, apple, cherry, berry or quince.

Unlike the Tuica, it is distilled 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, berry or quince

2 - Vin fiert

Much like our mulled wine, vin fiert is one hot wine-based drink (traditionally red), sugar and aromatic spices (usually cinnamon and cloves, lemon zest, star anise, apple and some mandarin wedges).

It is consumed especially during Advent, is also found in the typical Christmas markets or during 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 - Țuică

Like the palinca, the tuica is too a typical Romanian liqueur usually offered at the beginning of a meal and synonymous with conviviality. It is usually made 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 comes used in the production of țuică. Moreover, in many regions of the country, hot țuică with sugar and black peppercorns is drunk on cold winter evenings.

  • Average cost: € 5,00
  • Main ingredients: plums or cherries, pears and apples

Tips and trivia: where to eat and what to avoid

Romanian cuisine is from poor origin, is simple and based on the use of a few genuine ingredients. Soups are very consumed and appreciated, the variants 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 one that enjoys some success in Romania, 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 popular holidays, the foods offered are usually good and wholesome, although it is best to avoid meat (especially cats) if you are not absolutely sure where it comes from.

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