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An introduction to Romanian cuisine

Romanian cuisine is diverse and thus influenced by various cultures that came into contact with Romanian territory in previous centuries; examples include the influence of the Greeks, the Ottoman Empire (Turkish), and the Romans, as Romania was part of the Roman Empire at the time. In addition to these cultures, Romania’s bordering countries, such as some Balkan countries, have contributed to the cultural diversity of Romanian cuisine.

Although the country has several regions, each with its own specifics (Transylvania – western central area – Gulas), Oltenia (southern area – Carnati Oltenesti), Dobrogea (eastern area – Musaca), Moldova (north-eastern area – Moldavian Tochitură), all over Romania we will find “sarmale” as a main dish, a rather fatty dish that is usually prepared from minced pork and beef, wrapped in sauerkraut sheet or vine sheet. It is traditionally served with mamaliga (polenta – a type of cornmeal food) or, less frequently but not infrequently, with bread and sour cream. Just as it is not unusual to find hot peppers next to it. Wine can be a good drink to accompany this dish.

At the same time, “Micii,” a popular Romanian dish, is recommended. They are made from minced beef and mutton or beef and pork and are grilled over a wood fire (or coal, as the case may be). Serve immediately, warm, with mustard. They can be served with fried potatoes, according to the modern recipe. They go extremely well with beer.

In addition, if you visit the Danube Delta, you will undoubtedly be served with fish brine and mamaliga. If you get to the mountain area, you will almost certainly try to hunt plateaus. Fresh fish dishes at the beach are becoming increasingly popular in the market. However, in the Maramures region, try Balmosul (mamaliga with butter, cream, and sour milk) and in Transylvania, Bulzul (cheese, sausages and smoked ribs wrapped in pan-fried mamaliga).

Romanian cuisine

Sarmale recipe

During the holidays, the food changes a little. For example, boiled eggs, Drob, and the unavoidable roast lamb are served at Easter. At Christmas, however, pork dishes predominate (sausages, steak, meatballs, pastrami).

When it comes to dessert, whether we’re talking about the holidays or a sweet craving, cozonac (sweet bread) is the first thing that comes to mind in Romania. This fluffy product, based on the way bread is baked, will make you lick your fingers, whether it is made with cocoa and nuts, cocoa and raisins, cocoa and Turkish delight, or cocoa and coconut.

Sarmale recipe: to enjoy a perfect taste, you can follow this recipe. You need 1 sauerkraut, 100 g of rice for 1 kg of minced meat (mixture of pork and beef), 1 onion, 150 g of tomato sauce, smoked meat, and thyme leaves.

The first step is to boil the rice. During this time, saute the finely chopped onion with a little oil and a little broth, then mix it together with the rice with the minced meat. Add salt, pepper, dried thyme and paprika. The thicker parts and spines of the cabbage leaves are then removed, leaving only the thinner part. Cabbage leaves provide the size of sarmale, the sheet that must be “closed” well once filled with meat (roll the sheet in the palm of your hand and cover the ends). The leftover cabbage (thick leaves and what remains after adjusting the used leaves) is chopped smaller and used to make a bed in the pot for the sarmale sausages.

Add chopped cabbage and a few pieces of smoked meat to every 1-2 layers of sarmale. They should not be piled up because the rice in them expands when cooked! Place some cabbage leaves from the thickest leftovers and thyme leaves on top of the sarmals. The pot made in this manner is placed on low heat and covered with a lid. It is left for about 1/2 to 2 hours after it begins to boil. Because the water is absorbed, it is periodically topped up with water. They are ready when the fork easily enters the sarmale. Serve hot, with mamaliga and sour cream. Enjoy!


To conclude, an important mention deserves the wine. Some areas of Romania have many vineyards, and the grapes are of excellent quality due to the perfect climatology, geographical conditions, and extensive plains. In recent years, the production of wine has increased, as well as the number of wineries. By finding unique, authentic and very good quality wines, Romania is gradually building an important market and also developing as one of the favourite destinations for wine tourism. Some of the most important wines are Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala and Crampoise.

In short, if you want to know more about the cultures of the world, look at our Blog.

Author: Cornel L.

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