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Top 6 Must Try Romanian Dishes | My Favorite Romanian Food

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Romanian food, while holding it's own distinct characteristics, also borrows from surrounding countries and cultures which it has been influenced by. You can see examples of Ottoman, German, Bulgarian and Serbian influence in the local dishes. This unique blend, along with the tradition of making use of what's seasonally available, means Romanian food is unique and as I found out- quite delicious.

Romanian food, while holding it's own distinct characteristics, also borrows from surrounding countries and cultures which it has been influenced by. You can see examples of Ottoman, German, Bulgarian and Serbian influence in the local dishes. This unique blend, along with the tradition of making use of what's seasonally available, means Romanian food is unique and as I found out- quite delicious.

Romanian food, while holding it's own distinct characteristics, also borrows from surrounding countries and cultures which it has been influenced by. You can see examples of Ottoman, German, Bulgarian and Serbian influence in the local dishes. This unique blend, along with the tradition of making use of what's seasonally available, means Romanian food is unique and as I found out- quite delicious.

As I researched Romanian food before visiting Romania, I mostly read about how it was “hearty” and “heavy”. And while I found much of the local fare is quite heavy, it’s not always the case.

Romanian food, while holding it’s own distinct characteristics, also borrows from surrounding countries and cultures. In the local dishes, you can see examples of Ottoman, German, Bulgarian and Serbian influence.

This unique blend, along with the tradition of making use of what’s seasonally available, means Romanian food is unique and, as I found out, quite delicious.

After recently spending several months in Romania, I have come up with my list of the top 6 Romanian dishes you must try when you visit yourself.

My Top 6 Favorite Romanian Foods

Sarmale

Sarmale is a very typical Romanian dish that can be found on most menus. The dish consists of sour cabbage leaves stuffed with a mixture of pork and beef and served with sides of polenta (or mamaliga as it’s locally known) and usually salty smoked bacon.

Sarmale is a very typical Romanian dish that can be found on most menus. Must-Try Romanian Dishes

Mici

Mici, which translates to “small one”, are short, skinless sausages grilled over an open flame. The sausages are a mixture of lamb, beef, pork and a variety of spices.

Mici are typically served with fresh bread and mustard. You can always smell these being grilled from halfway down the block, and I’ve literally never been able to stop after eating just one. Locals usually order at least three at a time.

Mici are typically served with fresh bread and mustard. Must-Try Romanian Dishes

Soups (Ciorbas)

Romanian soup culture is very real and has created some of the best soups I’ve ever tasted. The country’s specialty is a type of soup known as ciorba, or sour soup. Ciorba differs from regular soup by adding an acid (usually lemon juice) to make the soup sour.

Soups generally consist of both a mixture of meat and vegetables and are almost always served with fresh bread, sour cream and pickled peppers.

Romanian soup culture is very real and has created some of the best soups I've ever tasted. Must-Try Romanian Dishes

My favorite non-sour soup is a beef and vegetable soup known as peasants soup. This version was served with plenty of fresh sliced onions.

peasants soup - Must-Try Romanian Dishes

Veal in a Mushroom Wine Sauce

Although pork is the most commonly eaten meat, Romanians also make delicious beef dishes. This house speciality (known as muschi de vitel la tingire cu sos de vin ciuperci si orez) is veal in a sauce of wine and mushrooms and served with polenta. The meat was slow cooked and served fork tender. Make sure to seek this dish out on menus during your visit!

muschi de vitel la tingire cu sos de vin ciuperci si orez - Must-Try Romanian Dishes

Bulz Ciobanesc (Sheperd’s Polenta Ball)

Don’t let the unassuming look of this dish fool you- it’s one of the best I had in Romania. The dish is layered with cheese, polenta and bacon. It’s delicious, but definitely not light or anything I recommend for someone on a diet. How can you go wrong with bacon and cheese?

Bulz Ciobanesc (Sheperd's Polenta Ball) - Must-Try Romanian Dishes

Salata de Icre (Romanian fish egg salad)

Don’t let the name of this one scare you off like it almost did me. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this dish.

The salad, served as an appetizer, is more of a spread than an actual salad. Fresh roe (fish eggs) are mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and chopped shallots and served with fresh bread. This is a very typical starter that you’ll find on most tables before a dinner.

Salata de Icre (Romanian fish egg salad) - Must-Try Romanian Dishes

Wine

Ok, ok– I know wine doesn’t actually count as a dish, but it was on the table for nearly every meal so I’m including it. Romania has some truly great wines that no one ever seems to talk about.

Must-Try Romanian Dishes

I was fortunate enough to visit a couple of vineyards during my Experience Bucharest trip and tried many varieties of local wine. The vineyards in Romania make some truly excellent wines, and the bottles are affordably priced.

One of my favorite wineries was the LacertA Winery — the grounds of the vineyard are gorgeous, the workers are knowledgable and friendly, and the wine was delicious.

Must-Try Romanian Dishes


What do you think of Romanian food? Is there a dish you’d most like to try? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Marian

Friday 13th of March 2020

I’m looking for a recipe for noodles and potatoes fried my mother’s friend and I ate it about 50 years ago I would really like to make it Thank You

Mike

Tuesday 25th of September 2018

As a native Romanian, albeit not one who knows Romanian restaurants very well, I'd think it's hard to find a restaurant which serves food close to reality. For example, many years back I ordered at work "varza calita" (not sure what's the correct translation cooked cabbage/boiled cabbage?) from a popular restaurant. It was that bad. It was literally just boiled cabbage with like tomato sauce. No taste, far from the real dish our mother or grand mother cooked for us at home.

The reality is very few restaurants can afford to cook the real thing. It's not realistic if you think about it. Definitely not crowded\popular restaurants in a crowded city. Don't get me wrong, when it comes to things like sausages, chicken, pork, fish, fries there are many restaurants here which can cook delicious food like this. I've been traveling abroad and Romania can compete with any other country when it comes to restaurants.

Another very popular example is "mamaliga" or "mamaliguta" (polenta). If you come here and you order it and you don't like, I'd not be surprised. Polenta with a good cheese and good yogurt (what good yogurt means is another discussion) is divine. Time it takes me to cook polenta: 50 mins, sometimes I like to boil it for an 1hr. Guess how much time it takes in a restaurant? 10 mins?

How

Ana

Wednesday 18th of October 2017

Oh my, I adore sarmale and mici. I could eat hundreds of them. Absolutely delicious!

Nathan

Thursday 19th of October 2017

me too! I'm going back to Romania next week and that will be some of the first things I have!

Bharath

Friday 14th of July 2017

Hi Nathan, you have given a top list food items in Romania which are helpful for tourists to enjoy their food. Photographs are very interesting, special thanks as food lover.

Punita Malhotra

Tuesday 4th of July 2017

I think I am going to enjoy my travel to Romania when we go...the cuisine is so rich and enticing. Stuffed cabbage leaves sounds very exotic! Your pictures are fantastic!

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