Romanian cuisine is a diverse blend of different dishes from several traditions with which it has come into contact, but it also maintains its own character. It has been greatly influenced by Ottoman cuisine, while it also includes influences from the cuisines of other neighbours, such as Germans, Serbs, Bulgarians and Hungarians.
Quite different types of dishes are sometimes included under a generic term; for example, the category ciorbă includes a wide range of soups with a characteristic sour taste. These may be meat and vegetable soups, tripe (ciorbă de burtă), and calf foot soups, or fish soups, all of which are soured by lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, vinegar, or traditionally borş. The category ţuică (plum brandy) is a generic name for a strong alcoholic spirit in Romania, while in other countries, every flavour has a different name.
In history of Romanian culinary literature, Costache Negruzzi and Mihail Kogălniceanu are the compilers of a cookbook ″200 reţete cercate de bucate, prăjituri şi alte treburi gospodăreşti″ (200 tried recipes, pastries and other household things) printed in 1841. Also, Negruzzi writes in "Alexandru Lăpuşneanu": "In Moldavia at this time, fine food wasn't fashioned. Greater feast could have included few courses. After Polish borş, Greek dishes follow, boiled with herbs floating in butter, after that, Turkish pilaf, and finally cosmopolitan steaks".
Cheese was known since Ancient history. Brânză is the generic word for cheese in Romanian. This word is from Dacian, the language of the pre-Roman population in the actual Romania.
The Dacians produced wine in massive quantities. Once Burebista, a Dacian king, angered by the wine abuse of his warriors, cut the vines, his people gave up drinking wine. Legend says that the Dacian people, created their own beer.
With Romans, came a certain taste, rooted in the centuries for the pastry made with cheese, like alivenci, pasca, or brânzoaice. Introduction of porridge by the Romans, who eat millet porridge called polenta.
For 276 years, Romania was under the rules of the Ottoman Empire. Turkish cuisine changed the Romanian table with appetizers made of eggplant, peppers or other vegetables, various meat preparations like spicy chiftele. And a unique procession of sweets, pastries combining honey and nuts, such as baklava, halva, and rahat, which is used in cakes.
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Romanian recipes bear the same influences as the rest of Romanian culture. The Turks have brought meatballs (perişoare in a meatball soup), from the Greeks there is musaca, from the Austrians there is the şniţel, and the list could continue. The Romanians share many foods with the Balkan area (in which Turkey was the cultural vehicle), with Central Europe (mostly in the form of German-Austrian dishes introduced through Hungary or by the Saxons in Transylvania) and Eastern Europe. Some others are original or can be traced to the Roman or other ancient civilizations. The lack of written sources in Eastern Europe makes impossible to determine today the punctual origin for most of them.
One of the most common meals is the mămăliga, a type of polenta, served on its own or as an accompaniment. Pork is the main meat used in Romanian cuisine, but also beef is consumed and a good lamb or fish dish is never to be refused.
Before Christmas, on December 20 (Ignat's Day or Ignatul in Romanian), a pig is traditionally sacrificed by every rural family. A variety of foods for Christmas prepared from the slaughtered pig consist of the following:
- Cărnaţi — sausages
- Caltaboş — sausages made with liver
- Tobă and piftie — dishes using pig's feet, head and ears suspended in aspic
- Tochitură — pan-fried pork served with mămăligă and wine ("so that the pork can swim").
- Piftie - inferior parts of the pig, mainly the tail, feet and ears, are cooked refinely and served in a form of gelatin
- Jumari - small pieces of pig meat are fried and tumbled through various spices
The Christmas meal is sweetened with the traditional cozonac, a sweet bread with nuts and rahat for dessert.
At Easter, lamb is served: the main dishes are roast lamb and drob de miel – a Romanian-style lamb haggis made of minced organs (heart, liver, lungs) wrapped and roasted in a caul. The traditional Easter cake is pască, a pie made of yeast dough with a sweet cottage cheese filling at the center.
Romanian pancakes, called clătită, are thin (like the French crêpe) and can be prepared with savory or sweet fillings: ground meat, white cheese, or jam. Different recipes are prepared depending on the season or the occasion.
Wine is the preferred drink, and Romanian wine has a tradition of over three millennia. Romania is currently the world's 9th largest wine producer, and recently the export market has started to grow. Romania produces a wide selection of domestic varieties (Fetească, Grasă, Tamâioasă, and Busuioacă), as well as varieties from across the world (Italian Riesling, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Muscat Ottonel). Beer is also highly regarded, generally blonde pilsener beer, made with German influences. There are also Romanian breweries with a long tradition.
According to the 2009 data of FAOSTAT, Romania is the world's second largest plum producer (after the United States), and as much as 75% of Romania's plum production is processed into the famous ţuică, a plum brandy obtained through one or more distillation steps.
List of dishes
- Borş is fermented wheat bran, a souring agent for ciorbă
- Ciorbă is the traditional Romanian sour soup
- Supă (generic name for sweet (sometimes clear) soups, sometimes sweet variants of ciorbă)
- Caltaboş/chişcǎ - a cooked sausage made of minced pork organs and rice, stuffed in a pig casing
- Cârnaţi - a garlicky sausage, as in Fasole cu cârnaţi
- Catavitz's - beef, cod and herring made into a soup
- Chiftele - a type of large meatball covered with a flour crust or breadcrumb crust
- Ciulama - white roux sauce used in a variety of meat dishes
- Ciulama de viţel - veal ciulama
- Ciulama de pui - chicken ciulama
- Drob de miel - a lamb haggis made of minced organs wrapped in a caul and roasted like a meatloaf; a traditional Easter dish
- Frigărui - Romanian-style kebabs
- Limbă cu măsline - cow tongue with olives
- Mititei (mici) - grilled minced-meat rolls
- Musaca - an eggplant, potato, and meat pie
- Ostropel - method of cooking chicken or duck
- Papricaş - Goulash
- Pârjoale - a kind of meatball
- Pleşcoi sausages
- Slănină (şuncă) - pork fat, often smoked
- Şniţel - a pork, veal, or beef breaded cutlet (a variety of Viennese schnitzel)
- Stufat - lamb, onion and garlic stew
- Tobă - sausage (usually pig's stomach, stuffed with pork jelly, liver, and skin)
- Tocană/tocaniţă - stew
- Tocăniţă vânătorească - venison stew
- Tochitură - a Romanian style stew
- Varză călită - steamed cabbage with pork ribs, duck or sausages
- Sarmale - minced meat with rice, wrapped in pickled cabbage leaves
Romanian roe salad decorated with black olives.
- Ardei umpluţi - stuffed bell peppers
- Dovlecei umpluţi - stuffed zucchini
- Gulii umplute - stuffed kohlrabi
- Vinete umplute - stuffed eggplant
- Sarmale - stuffed cabbage rolls, also made with grape, dock leaves or many other leaves
- Ghiveci - vegetable stew or cooked vegetable salad similar to the Bulgarian gjuvec and the Hungarian lecsó
- Ghiveci cǎlugaresc - vegetable stew prepared by the nuns in the monasteries
- Iahnie - beans, spiced up, cooked until there's no more water and a soft sticky sauce binding beans together has formed
- Mămăligă - cornmeal mush, also known as Romanian-style polenta
- Mâncare de mazăre - pea stew
- Mâncare de praz - leek stew
- Pilaf - rice, vegetables, and pieces of meat, often wings and organs of chicken, pork, or lamb
- Chifteluţe de ciuperci - chiftele made of mushrooms instead of meat
- Sniţel de ciuperci - mushroom fritter - şniţel is the Romanian spelling of the German word schnitzel (breaded boneless cutlet), but it may be used to mean any sort of fritter
- Tocană de ciuperci - mushroom stew
List of salads
- Ardei copţi - roasted peppers
- Murături - pickled vegetables (most often in brine but also using vinegar)
- Castraveţi muraţi - pickled cucumber
- Gogonele - pickled unripe tomatoes
- Varză murată - pickled cabbage
- Murături asortate - pickled mixed vegetables - onions, garlic, unripe tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, kohlrabi, beet, carrots, celery, parsley roots, cauliflower, apples, quince, unripe plums, small unripe watermelons, small zucchini, and red cabbage
- Mujdei - crushed garlic sauce
- Salată de boeuf - minced boiled vegetables with meat mayonnaise and a dash of mustard
- Salată de vinete - roasted and peeled eggplant, chopped onion, salt, mixed with mayo
- Salată orientala - potato salad with egg, onions, olives
- Salată de sfeclă - beet salad
- Salată de roşii cu ceapa - tomato and onion salad
List of cheese types
The generic name for cheese in Romania is brânză, and it is considered to be of Dacian origin. Most of the cheeses are made of cow's or sheep's milk. Goat's milk is rarely used. Sheep cheese is considered "the real cheese", although in modern times some people refrain from consuming it due to its higher fat content and specific smell.
- Brânză de burduf a kneaded cheese prepared from sheep's milk and traditionally stuffed into a sheep's stomach; it has a strong taste and semi-soft texture
- Brânză topită is a melted cheese and a generic name for processed cheese, industrial product
- Brânză de coşuleţ is a sheep's milk, kneaded cheese with a strong taste and semi-soft texture, stuffed into bellows of fir tree bark instead of pig bladder, very lightly smoked, traditional product
- Caş is a semi-soft fresh white cheese, unsalted, sometimes lightly salted, stored in brine, which is eaten fresh (cannot be preserved), traditional, seasonal product
- Caşcaval is a semi-hard cheese made with sheep's or cow's milk, traditional product
- Năsal, traditional product
- Penteleu, traditional product
- Șvaițer, industrial product
- Telemea is similar to feta, but so much better, traditional product
- Urdă - made by boiling the whey drained from cow's or ewe's milk until the remaining proteins precipitate and can be collected, traditional product
List of desserts
, Romanian chocolate sponge cake.
- Covrigi - pretzel
- Gogoşi - literally "doughnuts", but more akin to fried dough
- Rahat - Turkish delight
- Plăcintă - pie
- Colivă - boiled wheat, mixed with sugar and walnuts (often decorated with candy and icing sugar; distributed at funerals and/or memorial ceremonies)
- Cozonac - a kind of Stollen made with leavened dough, into which milk, eggs, sugar, butter, and other ingredients are mixed
- Orez cu lapte
- Griş cu lapte
- Lapte de pasăre - literally "bird's milk", vanilla custard garnished with "floating islands" of whipped egg whites
- Cremă de zahăr ars
- Clătite - pancakes
- Turtă dulce - gingerbread
- Chec - coffee cake
- Papanași - a kind of doughnut made from a mixture of sweet cheese, eggs, and semolina, boiled or fried and served with fruit syrup or jam and sour cream
- Şarlotă - a custard made with milk, eggs, sugar, whipped cream, gelatin, fruits, and lady fingers; from the French Charlotte
- Prăjituri - assorted pastries
- Mucenici - sweet cookies (shaped like "8", made of boiled or baked dough, garnished with walnuts, sugar or honey, eaten on a single day of the year, on 9 March)
List of drinks
Notes and references