Romanian cuisine

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Not to be confused with Romani cuisine.

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, including German, Serbian, Bulgarian, and Hungarian cuisine.

There are quite a few different types of dishes, which 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 borș (traditionally made from bran). The category țuică (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 were the compilers of a cookbook “200 rețete cercate de bucate, prăjituri și alte trebi gospodăreşti” (200 tried recipes, pastries and other household things) printed in 1841.[1] Also, Negruzzi writes in "Alexandru Lăpușneanu": "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 the Romans, there was a certain taste, rooted in the centuries for the perfect pastry made from cheese, including alivenci, pască, or brânzoaice. The Romans introduced porridge, where different variations of millet porridges were formed.

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. Ottoman cuisine changed the Romanian table with appetizers made from various vegetables, such as eggplant and bell peppers, as well as various meat preparations, such as chiftele (deep-fried meatballs, a variation of kofta) and mici (short sausages without casings, usually barbecued). The various kinds of ciorbă/borș (sour soups) and meat-and-vegetable stews, such as iahnie de fasole (beans), ardei umpluți (stuffed peppers), and sarmale (stuffed cabbage) are influenced by Turkish and Arab cuisine. The beloved Romanian tomato salad is a variation of the Lebanese dish fattoush. There is a unique procession of sweets and pastries combining honey and nuts, such as baclava, sarailie (or seraigli), 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 (perișoare in a meatball soup), from the Greeks there is musaca, from the Austrians there is the șnițel, 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, as well as 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:

  • Cârnați – garlicky pork sausages, which may be smoked or dry-cured;
  • Caltaboș – an emulsified sausage based on liver with consistency from fine (pâté) to coarse;
  • Sângerete (black pudding) – an emulsified sausage obtained from a mixture of pig's blood with fat and meat, breadcrumbs or other grains, and spices;
  • Tobă (head cheese) – based on pig's feet, ears, and meat from the head suspended in aspic and stuffed in pig's stomach;
  • Tochitură – pan-fried cubed pork served with mămăligă and wine ("so that the pork can swim");
  • Piftie/răcitură – inferior parts of the pig, mainly the tail, feet, and ears, spiced with garlic and served in aspic;
  • Jumări – dried pork remaining from rendering of the fat and tumbled through various spices

The Christmas meal is sweetened with the traditional cozonac, a sweet bread made from 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 from minced offal (heart, liver, lungs) with spices, wrapped in a caul and roasted.[7][8] The traditional Easter cake is pască, a pie made from 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, Tămâioasă, Busuioacă, and Băbească), 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 țuică, a plum brandy obtained through one or more distillation steps.[13]

List of dishes[edit]


Ciorbă de cartofi
Ciorbă de burtă
  • Borș is fermented wheat bran, a souring agent for ciorbă. Borș is also used today as a synonym for ciorbă, but in the past, a distinction was made between borș and ciorbă (acritură), the souring agent for the latter being the juice of unripe fruits, such as grapes, mirabelle, or wood sorrel leaves.
  • Ciorbă is the traditional Romanian sour soup
  • Supă (generic name for sweet (usually clear) soups, made from vegetables alone or combined with poultry and beef). The difference between Supă and Ciorbă is that the meat and most of the vegetables are removed, the resulted liquid being served with dumplings or noodles. There are also a number of sour soups, which use lemon juice as a souring agent, called Supe a la grec (Greek soups).


Frigărui, Romanian-style kebabs


Romanian roe salad decorated with black olives.


Ardei umpluți

List of salads[edit]

Salată de vinete

List of cheeses[edit]

Caşcaval Penteleu, a type of Romanian cheese

The generic name for cheese in Romania is brânză, and it is considered to be of Dacian origin. Most of the cheeses are made from 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 is 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 în coșuleț 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
  • Caș is a semi-soft fresh white cheese, unsalted or lightly salted, stored in brine, which is eaten fresh (cannot be preserved), traditional, seasonal product
  • Cașcaval is a semi-hard cheese made from sheep's or cow's milk, traditional product
  • Năsal is a type of cheese with a pungent aroma, traditional product
  • Penteleu, a type of Cașcaval, traditional product
  • Șvaițer, industrial product ("Schweizer Käse")
  • Telemea, cow's or sheep's milk white cheese, vaguely similar to feta. The traditional "Brânză de Brăila" (a type of telemea, which has become quite scarce) is spiced with Nigella damascena seeds, which gives it a unique flavor.
  • 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[edit]

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

List of drinks[edit]

  • Afinată - blueberry liqueur
  • Bere
  • Bragă
  • Cafea
  • Ceai - prepared in the form of either various plant tisanes (chamomile, mint, tilly flower, etc) or common black tea, called ceai rusesc in Romanian, which is Russian tea usually served during breakfast.
  • Horincă is a plum brandy, produced near the border with Ukraine
  • Must - the grape juice in the fermentation process that hasn't become wine yet.
  • Pălincă is a strong, double-distilled plum brandy, produced in Transylvania
  • Pelin de mai is a wine specialty, usually produced in the spring, flavored with Artemisia dried plants
  • Rachiu is a fruit brandy. Even though "rachiu" can be made from any fruit (except plums), "țuică" is reserved exclusively to brandy made from plums.
  • Rachiu de tescovină is a pomace brandy produced from grapes that have been used in wine production, very similar to the Italian grappa
  • Secărică is a caraway fruit flavored vodka, similar to the German kümmel
  • Sirop - syrup made from fir tree, pine, buckthorn, blueberry, raspberry, or strawberry with different types of honey or sugar
  • Socată is a non-alcoholic beverage made from fermented elderflower (Sambucus nigra)
  • Șliboviță is a plum brandy, produced near the border with Serbia
  • Turț is a strong, double-distilled plum brandy, named after the village of Turţ in northwestern Romania
  • Țuică is a plum brandy
  • Vin
  • Vișinată is a sour cherry liqueur
  • Vodcă
  • Zmeurată is a raspberry liqueur

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]