Romanian cuisine

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A plate of sărmăluţe cu mămăligă, a popular Romanian dish of stuffed cabbage rolls (sarmale), accompanied by sauerkraut and mămăligă. The cabbage rolls are usually garnished with sour cream, not lemon and olive.

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 a few 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 trebi gospodăreşti″ (200 tried recipes, pastries and other household things) printed in 1841.[1] 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".[2]

Ancient history[edit]

Dacian cuisine[edit]

Cheese was known since Ancient history. Brânză is the generic word for cheese in Romanian. This word is from Dacian. In addition to cheese, Dacians ate vegetables (lentils, peas, spinach, garlic) and fruits (grapes, apples, raspberries) with high nutritional value.[3]

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.[4] Legend says that the Dacian people created their own beer. As a result, beer was made by Romanians.

Roman influence[edit]

With Romans, came a certain taste, rooted in the centuries for the pastry made with cheese, like alivenci, pască, or brânzoaice. The Romans introduced porridge, as well as polenta, which inspired variations of millet porridges.

Middle ages[edit]

Maize and potatoes became staples of Romanian cuisine after their introduction to Europe. Maize in particular contributed to an increase in nutrition level and health of the Romanian population in the 16th and 17th centuries, resulting in a population boom.

Ottoman influence[edit]

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, as well as various meat preparations like spicy chiftele (deep-fried meatballs, a variation of kofta) and the famous mici (short sausages without casings, usually barbecued). The various ciorbă (sour soups) and meat-and-vegetable stews, such as iahnie de fasole (beans), ardei umpluti (stuffed peppers), and sarmale (stuffed cabbage) are also of Turkish (and Arab) influence. The beloved rich (Romanian) tomato salad is a variation of the Lebanese dish. There is a unique procession of sweets and pastries combining honey and nuts, such as baklava, sarailie (serai-gli), halva, and rahat (Turkish delight). These sweets are nowadays used in confectionery, such as cakes.


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), Central Europe (mostly in the form of German-Austrian dishes introduced through Hungary or by the Saxons in Transylvania), and Eastern Europe (including Moldova). Some others are original or can be traced to the Roman or other ancient civilizations. The lack of written sources in Eastern Europe makes it impossible to determine today the punctual origin for most of them.

One of the most common meals is the mămăligă, 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),[5] a pig is traditionally sacrificed by every rural family.[6] A variety of foods for Christmas prepared from the slaughtered pig consist of the following:

The Christmas meal is sweetened with the traditional cozonac, a sweet bread with nuts, poppy seeds or rahat (Turkish delight).

At Easter, lamb is served: the main dishes are borș de miel (lamb sour soup), roast lamb and drob de miel – a Romanian-style lamb haggis made of minced offal (heart, liver, lungs) with spices, wrapped in a caul and roasted.[7][8] The traditional Easter cake is pască, a pie made of yeast dough with a sweet cottage cheese filling at the center.[9][10]

Romanian pancakes, called clătite, are thin (like the French crêpe) and can be prepared with savory or sweet fillings: ground meat, cheese, or jam. Different recipes are prepared depending on the season or the occasion.[11]

Wine is the preferred drink, and Romanian wine has a tradition of over three millennia.[11] Romania is currently the world's ninth largest wine producer, and recently the export market has started to grow.[11] 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),[12] 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.[13]

List of dishes[edit]


Ciorbă de cartofi
Ciorbă de burtă
Supă (de pui) cu tăieţei


Frigărui, Romanian-style kebabs


Romanian roe salad decorated with black olives.


Ardei umpluţi

List of salads[edit]

Salată de vinete, served on slices of bread

List of cheese types[edit]

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.

List of desserts[edit]

Amandine, Romanian chocolate sponge cake.
Papanași, Romanian doughnuts.

List of drinks[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]