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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, Serbians, 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 and calf foot soups (shkembe chorba or iskembe), or fish soups, all of which are soured by lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, vinegar, or traditionally borş (fermented wheat bran). The category ţuică is a generic name for a strong alcoholic spirit in Romania, while in other countries, every flavour has a different name.



"I had for breakfast more paprika, and a sort of porridge of maize flour which they said was "mamaliga", and egg-plant stuffed with forcemeat, a very excellent dish, which they call "impletata"." - Bram Stoker, Dracula, Chapter 1
A plate of sărmăluţe cu mămăligă, a popular Romanian dish of stuffed cabbage rolls (sarmale) accompanied by sauerkraut and mamaliga. The cabbage rolls are usually garnished with sour cream, not lemon and olive.

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 Bulgarians there are a wide variety of vegetable dishes like ghiveci and zacuscă, from the Austrians there is the şniţel and the list could continue.

One of the most common dishes is mămăliga, a cornmeal mush served on its own or as an accompaniment. Pork is the preferred meat, but beef, lamb, and fish are also popular.

Before Christmas, on December 20 (Ignat's Day or Ignatul in Romanian),[1] a pig is traditionally slaughtered by every rural family.[2] A variety of foods for Christmas prepared from the slaughtered pig consist of the following:

  • cârnaţi/cărnaţi — spicy sausages
  • caltaboşi/cartaboşi — sausages made with liver
  • offal
  • tobă and piftie — dishes using pig's feet, head and ears suspended in aspic
  • tocătură/tochitură — pan-fried pork served with mămăligă and wine ("so that the pork can swim").

The Christmas meal is sweetened with the traditional arxidia (sweet bread with nuts) or rahat (Turkish delight) for dessert.

At Easter, lamb is served: the main dishes are roast lamb and drob de miel – a Romanian lamb haggis made of minced organs (heart, liver, lungs) wrapped and roasted in a caul.[3][4] The traditional Easter cake is pască, a pie made of yeast dough with a sweet cottage cheese filling at the center.[5][6]

Romanian pancakes, called clătită, are thin (like French crêpes) 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.[7]

Wine is the preferred drink, and Romanian wines have a tradition of over three millennia.[7] Romania is currently the world's 9th largest wine producer, and recently the export market has started to grow.[7] Romania produces a wide selection of domestic varieties (Fetească, Grasă, Tamâioasă) as well as varieties from across the world (Italian Riesling, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel). Beer is also highly regarded, generally blonde pilsener beer, made with German influences. There are also Romanian breweries with a long tradition.

Romania is the world's second largest plum producer (after the United States)[8] 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.[9]

List of dishes



  • ciorbă (soup with characteristic sour taste)
    • ciorbă de burtă (tripe soup)
    • ciorbă de perişoare (meatball soup)
    • ciorbă ţărănească de văcuţă (peasant beef soup)
    • ciorbă de fasole cu afumătură (bean and smoked meat soup)
    • ciorbă de peşte "ca-n Deltă" (fish soup prepared in the style of the Danube Delta)
    • ciorbă de salată cu afumătură (green salad and smoked meat soup)
    • ciorbă de legume (vegetables soup)
  • supă (generic name for sweet (sometimes clear) soups, some times sweet variants of ciorbă)
    • supă (de pui) cu găluşte (halušky, clear dumpling soup (with chicken broth))
    • supă (de pui) cu tăieţei (clear noodle soup (with chicken broth))
    • ciorbă de legume (vegetables soup)


  • caltaboş/chişcǎ - a cooked sausage made of minced pork organs and rice, stuffed in a pig casing
  • cârnaţi/karnatzel - a garlicky sausage, as in Fasole cu cârnaţi
  • 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 - skewered meat
  • limbă cu măsline - cow tongue with olives
  • mititei - grilled minced-meat rolls
  • musaca - an eggplant/potato and meat pie
  • ostropel - method of cooking chicken or duck
  • papricaş - Goulash
  • pârjoale - burger
  • piftie - meat jelly
  • Pleşcoi sausages
  • rasol - boiled meat with garlic or horseradish
  • slănină - pork fat often smoked (a.k.a. bacon)
  • şniţel - a breaded pork, veal, or beef cutlet (a variety of Viennese schnitzel)
    • Cordon bleu şniţel - breaded pork tenderloin stuffed with cheese and ham
    • mosaic şniţel - a specialty of Western Romania, two thin layers of different meats with mushroom or other vegetable filling
    • şniţel de pui - breaded chicken breast cutlet
  • stufat de miel - 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 moldovenească - Moldavian stew
  • tochitură ardelenească - Transylvanian stew
  • varză călită - steamed cabbage with pork ribs, duck or sausages


  • plachie din peşte (ragout of river fish with vegetables)
  • saramură de crap (carp in brine)
  • chiftele de peşte (fish cakes)
  • papricaş de peşte (fish paprikash)
  • crap pane (breaded carp fillets)
  • ghiveci cu peşte (vegetable stew with fish)
  • macrou afumat (smoked mackerel fillet)


  • ardei umpluţi (stuffed bell peppers)
  • dovlecei umpluţi (stuffed zucchini)
  • vinete umpluţi (stuffed eggplant)
  • sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls, also made with grape or dock leaves)
  • ghiveci (vegetable stew or cooked vegetable salad similar to the Bulgarian gjuvec and the Hungarian lecso)[10][11]
  • ghiveci calugaresc (vegetable stew prepared by the nuns in the monasteries)
  • iahnie (beans stew)
  • mâncare de mazăre (pea stew)
  • mâncare de praz (leek stew)
  • pilaf (rice, vegetables and sometimes pieces of meat, served as a side dish)
  • mămăligă (cornmeal mush, polenta)
  • chifteluţe de ciuperci (chiftele made of mushrooms instead of meat)
  • şniţel de ciuperci (mushroom fritters - şniţel is the Romanian spelling of the German word schnitzel – breaded boneless cutlet – but it may be used to mean any sort of fritter)
  • zacuscă (vegetable spread, made mainly with roasted eggplant and roasted red peppers)


List of spices and salads

  • borş (fermented wheat bran, a souring agent for ciorbă)
  • ardei copţi (roasted peppers)
  • murături (pickled vegetables)
    • castraveţi muraţi (pickled cucumbers)
    • sfeclă murată (pickled beets)
    • gogonele (pickled unripe tomatoes)
    • varză murată (pickled cabbage)
  • mujdei (garlic mayonnaise)
  • salată de boeuf (minced boiled vegetables and meat)
  • salată de vinete (eggplant salad)
  • salată de cartofi (potato salad)
  • salată de ţelină (celery salad)
  • salată de sfeclă (beet salad)
  • salată de roşii (tomato 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, with goat's milk rarely used.

List of desserts

Baklava is prepared on large trays and cut into a variety of shapes
  • Mucenici (sweet cookies shaped like the figure 8, made of boiled or baked dough, garnished with walnuts, sugar or honey, eaten on a single day of the year, the Sunday before the Easter fast)[15]

List of drinks

  • socată - Elderflower Champagne
  • bere - beer
  • ţuică - plum brandy
  • horincă - plum brandy, produced near the border with Ukraine
  • şliboviţa - similar to horincă, produced near the border with Serbia
  • palincă - plum brandy distilled three times more than ţuică
  • rachiu - fruit brandy
  • secărică - caraway seed brandy
  • turţ - alcoholic drink
  • afinată - blueberry liqueur
  • zmeurată - raspberry liqueur
  • vişinată - a type of cherry liqueur
  • vin - wine


An existential Romanian question is: Do we eat to live, or live to eat? A great number of proverbs and sayings have developed around the activity of eating. They range from the innocent child's saying of thanks:

Thank you for the meal
it was good and tasty
and the cook lady was beautiful[16]

to the more philosophical:

Thank you Lord
for I have eaten and I am hungry again[17]


Love passes through the stomach[18]

or the simple:

Appetite comes while eating[19]

or the sarcastic:

The pig eats anything, but it gets fat for others[20]

or a total fulfillment saying:

Ate well, drank well, in the morning woke up dead[21]

Mămăligă has long been considered the poor man's dish:

He doesn't even have a mămăliga on the table[22]

Pork is the preferred meat in Romanian cuisine:

The best fish will always be the pork[23], or
The best vegetable is chicken meat and the best chicken meat is pork[24]


Notes and references

  1. ^ Ignatul or Ignat's Day (December 20)
  2. ^ Christmas customs in Romania: "pig's ritual sacrifice"
  3. ^ Making lamb drob
  4. ^ Traditional recipe for drob de miel, with step-by-step photos
  5. ^ A photo of pasca
  6. ^ Pasca recipe
  7. ^ a b c in Romania
  8. ^ Romania second to USA in world plum production, 2007 plum production data on FAOSTAT
  9. ^ Ţuica production consumed 75% of Romanian plums in 2003
  10. ^ Ghiveci: Romanian vegetable stew
  11. ^ Recipe for ghiveci
  12. ^ Covrigi on display: a photograph
  13. ^ Varieties of gogoşi: photos and recipes (Romanian)
  14. ^ Recipe for savarina
  15. ^ Mucenici: background and recipe
  16. ^ Romanian: Sărut mâna pentru masă, / c-a fost bună şi gustoasă, / şi bucătăreasa frumoasă
  17. ^ Romanian: Mulţumescu-ţi ţie Doamne / c-am mâncat şi iar mi-e foame
  18. ^ Romanian: Dragostea trece prin stomac
  19. ^ Romanian: Pofta vine mâncănd
  20. ^ Romanian: Porcul mănâncă orice, dar se-ngraşă pentru alţii
  21. ^ Romanian: Mâncat bine, băut bine, dimineaţa sculat mort
  22. ^ Romanian: N-are nici o mămăligă pe masă
  23. ^ Romanian: Peştele cel mai bun, tot porcul rămâne
  24. ^ Romanian: Cea mai bună legumă e carnea de pui şi cea mai buna carne de pui e carnea de porc

Other sources

  • Nicolae Klepper, Taste of Romania, Hippocrene, New York, 1999, ISBN 978-0-7818-0766-1, ISBN 0-7818-0766-2

External links


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