If you didn’t get the chance yet to discover the treats of the Romanian cuisine, here are five of the most mouth-washing traditional dishes. You can order them while you try out a Romanian traditional restaurant or you can even make them at home.
One of the simplest and most popular traditional types of food is bulz. It is actually sheep cheese wrapped in polenta and cooked in the oven or on embers, as shepherds still make it in some parts of the country. In time, the recipe was diversified so that now you will find in restaurant menus or at family dinners bulz filled with ham, sausages and butter. In some places you will find it served with a fried egg and a spoon of sour cream on top. It goes very well with a glass of red wine or a digestive, like tuica or vodca.
Ciorba de burta (tripe soup)
One of the most popular Romanian sour soups, it has a velvety, delicate texture, despite the prejudices its name raises. It’s made out of tripe, beef, vegetables and sour cream. The recipe has an oriental origin, the Turkish (most-likely) recipe being adapted to local taste with sour cream, yoke, local aromatic herbs, vinegar (made of apples or grapes) and hot pepper. You can find it in almost every Romanian traditional restaurant. In family dinners it’s made mostly on holidays, as cooking the tripe takes a few of hours. If you want to make it yourself, remember that tripe is easy to find in all traditional markets or in hypermarkets in the refrigerated products area.
Salata de vinete (eggplant salad)
The eggplant salad is actually an oriental recipe known in the Arab world as baba ghanoush, baba ganush, or baba ghannouj. Romanians usually cook the eggplants unpeeled, on the embers of a fire or on the ring of the cooker so that the pulp becomes soft and slightly smoked. The modern and simplest method is to cook it in the oven, but it’s less aromatic. You will find it everywhere, on every occasion, but it’s good to know that the best is made in the eggplant season. Locals usually mix it with mayo, chopped fresh onions or mashed fresh garlic. They serve it on bread or fill tomatoes with it.
Homemade sausages are a treat and a reason of pride for Romanians. Traditionally, in the countryside they are made on Ignat day (the day around Christmas when the pig is sacrificed) out of a mix of pork meat, beef and even goat meat with garlic, basil, thyme or sage. They can be cooked right away or left to dry in the attic, or even to be smoked. They are cooked on grill, in the oven or in the frying pan. You can usually find carnati at traditional products fairs. They even have dedicated festivals such as Festivalul virsilor in Transylvania. The most popular Romanian sausages are the ones from Plescoi, Olt and the carnati ciobanesti (shepherds’ sausages) from Ardeal.
Cozonac is a cake with origins in the Roman bread. Romanians usually bake it on Christmas and Easter, but you can find it all year round in traditional shops. Each region has its own recipe; even each family has a recipe of its own, handed down from one generation to another. The cozonac can be round or rectangular, simple or braided and it is usually filled with chopped nuts, poppy seeds, cocoa cream or dried fruits. There is also pasca, a cozonac made only on Easter – it’s known for its creamy, golden filling made of a mix of cottage cheese, yoke and raisins. Traditional for Moldova are the round and tall ones (called babe – old ladies, in Romanian), rich in eggs, raisins and grated lemon and orange peels, while for Ardeal are the ones with poppy seeds and whole nuts. Here’s how to make the cozonac.