Traditional Romanian foods to feast on

June 03, 2019
Gabriela Ionescu

Hearty, rich and absolutely delicious, Romanian national food is cooked mainly on special occasions such as family celebrations, weddings, or national days. And when that food is cooked with love for our loved ones, food heaven unfolds. Getting hungry yet? Read on for a look at some of Romania’s best traditional dishes. And if you have a sweet tooth – you’re in luck. We’re putting the main spotlight on one of our favourite desserts, something you won’t want to miss out on when you visit Romania.

Ciorba (sour soups) are a mainstay of traditional Romanian cuisine and something traditional meals often begin with. Ingredients vary, but the sourness comes from lemon, vinegar or sometimes the liquid from sauerkraut. Alternatively, you might be served a combination plate consisting of smoked bacon, known as slanina afumata, jumari (a type of fried pork fat dish), and a variety of sausages, which usually act as a starter.

Traditonal soup Bucharest

Soups on in Bucharest | Photo by Bucharest Urban Adventures

The traditional drink that is often enjoyed with appetizers or starters would be ţuica or palinca (a potent plum brandy) which varies in strength, dryness, and bouquet according to the production area.

Once you’re ready for the main course, you can often expect mamaliga, a dish made from boiled corn meal similar to polenta. This is often used as a side dish to accompany sarmale, cabbage rolls filled with ground meat, rice and other ingredients.

But the king (and the queen) of all dishes (at least for us) will always be dessert. And if we’re talking about Romanian national food, papanaşi should be given the title of  best national dessert.

Based on a recipe originating in Moldova (the northeaster part of Romania), this delicious fried dough with sweet Romanian cheese has the shape of a doughnut. The traditional sweet treat is then garnished with fruit jam and sour cream. The combination of the hot, fluffy doughnut with the cold, melty sour cream and the mouth-watering fruit notes of the jam will be instantly addictive for anyone with a sweet tooth. You’ve been warned.

Nowadays, papanași have become popular all over the country and restaurants compete to come up with their best rendition. If there is be one thing, and one thing only you could  choose from among all Romanian cuisine, take my advice and go for papanași. Enjoy!

If you want to learn even more about Romanian food (and taste some for yourself), check out our Bucharest Sites & Bites tour.