What to Eat in Romania: 11 Dishes to Try

What to Eat in Romania: 11 Dishes to Try

When we went to Romania for Easter, I wanted to try as many local specialities as I could. 

Romania is obsessed with pork, so majority of dishes on my list are pork-based. One of our guides made a joke : “What is the best vegetable in Romania?” I was trying to guess suggesting “Tomato, aubergine, peppers” and his answer was pork! This is a good summary of Romanian cuisine.

I want to share 11 dishes that I loved and recommend that you try in Romania.

1. Zakuska, for example salata de vinete

Zakuska includes a variety of different spreads  and vegetable mixes. You cant go wrong with any of them if you like  vegetables. My favourite was the one with smoked aubergine, where it is mashed and sometimes mixed with other vegetables like tomato or pepper. It goes great with bread to get your appetite going.

2.Pork Dishes

As I mentioned before, pork is the queen of the Romanian table. You can be sure that on any menu you will find roast pork, grilled pork, pork ribs or pork knuckle. We tried pork ribs and grilled neck, and they were both great. Romanian chefs know what they are doing when it comes to meat.

3.Placinta

This is a pie stuffed with a variety of fillings: can be sweet or savoury. The dish origins are actually coming from Moldova,  because it is used to be part of Romania at some point. 

We tried a sweet version with cherrries. Our placinta was heavily dusted with icing sugar on top. Initially, I thought that the pie will be too much too handle after a full meal, but it was so tasty it disappeared within minutes.

4. Merdenele

You will find these cheese pies all over the place. Small , individual pie stuffed with cheese and it makes a perfect lunchtime snack.

In Romania bakeries are very popular and they produce all sorts of baked goods. The most popular are pretzels with seeds or cheese, called “covrigi”. You can also get  pizzas, puff pastries with cheese (“merdenele”), apple or cherry jams. The cheesy varieties can be either savoury or sweet . When we were travelling by train, we often grabbed a few pastries instead of lunch. 

5.Mici

Pork sausages without the casing, which are grilled and served with  either potatoes or bread and mustard. This dish was  one of my favourites, as mici were extremely moist and full of flavour. It is such a basic dish, but when meat is so perfectly grilled, it is hard to beat. 

6. Bean stew and sausage

This dish has many European brothers and sisters, whether it is sausage and mash in the UK, any sort of wursts in Germany or fennel sausages in Italy.

Great comfort food for cold months, where sausages are either fried or grilled and then served with a side of beans with vegetables or tomato paste. 

7.  Sarmale 

These are stuffed cabbage leaves with pork. The rolls are  steamed, boiled or baked in the oven. This dish is also well known in Russia or Ukraine, so I was happy to try Romanian version of sarmale.

8. Papanashi 

This was my favourite dessert in Romania. Sweet cheese doughnuts, which are deep fried and then served with local jams and sour cream.

It is best if these are made to order so you do not miss out on the freshness, as in some places this dish is only reheated or fried again, and the quality suffers. Portions are normally big, so I suggest you split between the two.

9. Bulz

One of the most popular crops in Romania is corn, so it is no surprise that corn products make it to the Romanian table. Mamaliga is made out of corn flour  and it is a very popular side dish for any main course.

Bulz is mamaliga  cooked with butter, milk and cheese and then baked in the oven. Our version also had a home made sausage sitting on top of it. 

10. Meat stew with  mamaliga 

Meat stew can include various cuts of meat or sausages, there are also vegetables and it is all combined with tomato sauce. Nothing complicated, but somehow comforting and filling.

11. Fried pork fat

This is one of the most popular snacks and goes fantastically well with soup. Quite big pieces of pork fat , sometimes with plenty of meat attached, are fried and served cold, normally with raw onions which cut through the grease.

We were given a portion in one of the restaurants and I could not finish it. I took the leftovers away and then finished them as a snack later. If you like pork fat, this dish is a must try, other people might find it a bit heavy. 

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