Romanian Cuisine Facts and History

Anyone who travels to Romania will enjoy a diverse cuisine, a surprising entwining of various foods and spices. Ever since ancient times, the people that settled in the area were farmers, and hunters, so food was always available.
Each area in the country has its specific recipes, given by its geography and the cultures of cereals and vegetables that are grown, plus the influences that were given by the neighbors. The traditional Romanian dishes contain a wide array of meats, milk and dairy products, cereals, and vegetables, together with all sorts of spices and herbs. Talking about influences, the Balkan, German, Italian, French, Turkish, and Hungarian cuisines brought some elements in the Romanian cuisine.
For instance, the Turks brought in the meatball soup, the Greeks introduced the shepherd’s pie, the Bulgarians came with many dishes containing vegetables, and the Austrians gave this cuisine their schnitzel.

Romanian Cuisine Menu



The breakfast in Romania is quite rich, very many foods being served in the morning. Eggs, fried, boiled, or served as omelet, are highly appreciated, with ham, onions, and even cheese. Bread is also consumed, as a side dish, or with butter, jam, or yogurt. Coffee, black or with milk, or tea is served most often, although milk will be eaten in the morning as well, accompanied by pastry products or cereal. Also, it is not uncommon for meat products, like sausages, salami, or anything similar, to be eaten as well, with bread and fresh veggies.


The regular lunch is consisted, being one of the most important meals of the day, consisting in three types of dishes. Soup is served first, made entirely out of veggies or with meat content. After, the main course can be a stew, a dish with roast meat and steamed veggies, rice with chicken, potatoes with meat, and various other dishes that contain veggies, and meat, if it is desired. And finally, a dessert is served, which can be a cake or some fresh fruits. But, for many people that are working and have a busy schedule, a sandwich, salad, or just a main course served at the local cafeteria, restaurant, or fast food, will suffice for lunch.


Concerning snacks, there are plenty to choose from. You can see a lot of stalls in Romania that sell bagels, which can be simple with salt, sesame, or poppy seeds, or they can be sweet, having a filling of apple jam, sour cherry jam, chocolate, vanilla, and so on. Many people like some yogurt with their bagels, so you will see the two being sold together. Also, many types of pastry products are consumed as snacks as well, and they can be salty or sweet, having various toppings or fillings. You may also find a type of flat bread, which is commonly known as placinta, simple or filled with cheese, potatoes, cabbage, or spinach, prepared either through deep frying or baking in the oven.


Dinner is very similar with lunch, although soup is not usually served, and foods like mayonnaise or eggs are avoided, as they are considered to slow down digestion at such a late hour during the day. Again, a main course is served, consisting in a dish that can be vegetarian, or a dish that contains meat with vegetables, rice, or potatoes, the evening being ended with a dessert, and some wine, beer, or soft drink.


Desserts can be found in various shapes and forms in Romania, everything from the simple crepes, a very popular dessert, filled with whatever your heart desires, to doughnuts, cakes, puddings, tarts, and pies. Romanians love to eat and they will always appreciate something sweet, so they won’t wait for a special celebration to prepare a dessert. Apple pies, or pies filled with sweet cheese, cream, and raisins, are popular deserts. Also, traditional desserts include a large variety of cakes with fruits, chocolate, and diverse creams.


As mentioned before, coffee and tea are quite popular drinks during the day, including fruit juices and smoothies, and soft drinks. In the evening or the weekend, Romanians like to drink beer, many varieties being produced in the country, especially if the weather is warm. But they also consume wine, as there are several famous wine yards in the country. And, there is also a traditional distilled beverage that is called tuica or palinca, which is similar with vodka, but much stronger, as it is usually distilled twice.

Holiday Menu



The Christmas dinner has very many dishes, the pork, chicken, or even turkey roast, is a must-have. The roast is served with mash potatoes, or sautéed vegetables. Boeuf salad is often prepared, being a salad that contains boiled potatoes, carrots, parsley roots, peas, pickled cucumbers, chicken, and mayonnaise. Roasted eggplants salad with mayonnaise, and spawn salad can also be present. As dessert, the traditional cozonac is always present, being treat that resembles a braid bread, filled with ground walnuts, cocoa, sugar, and even Turkish delight.


For Easter, Romanians like to prepared lamb roast, although chicken, turkey, and pork is also prepared. Lamb stuffing and soup can also be served during with time of the year, together with dishes made with eggs. Pasca, which is a type of sweet bread, is consumed as a side dish, or it can be filled with sweet cheese and raisings, and eaten as dessert. Painted and colored boiled eggs with also be on the Easter table.

Most Popular Dishes

Mamaliga – known internationally as polenta, this is a traditional staple food made out of maize, served most often with salty cheese, sour cream, and sausages or jumari, which are small bits of pork that were fried until the fat melted;
Mici – these are similar to meatballs, although they have a longer finger-like shape, and are prepared on the grilled, being served with bread, mustard, and French fries, optionally;
Sarmale – these are cabbage rolls stuffed with meat, beef, chicken or pork, rice, carrots, and onions, and backed for hours in the oven, surrounded by shredded cabbage leaves and ham;
Fasole cu ciolan – this is a very popular bean stew, which usually contains smoked pork meat, onions, carrots, tomato juice, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper.

Most Used Ingredients

Meat / Fish: chicken, pork, beef, trout, bass, various other fish;
Veggies: potato, tomato, onion, garlic, pepper, squash, eggplant;
Fruits: apples, pears, cherries, plums, berries, apricots, watermelon;
Other: corn, rice, wheat, beans;

Romanian Street Food – What to eat when traveling to Romania

Are you feeling hungry while traveling through Romania? Most likely you will find a place where you can enjoy mici, with bread rolls and mustard. Bagels are also very popular, being made and served in various manners, depending on your preferences. Deep fried flat bread, simple or filled, and doughnuts, are other types of street foods to be enjoyed anywhere.


If you feel a flavor of vanilla and cinnamon in the air, there is probably a kurtos kalacs stalls somewhere around, which is a type of sweet pastry product of Hungarian provenience. But, you will easily find kebabs and shaorma, at many street food stalls, a proof of Turkish influences, together with burgers, an eating habit imported from the west.


Are you from Romania? Maybe you visited there? Please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts on Romanian ethnic food.

Alexandru Vidraru


4 Most Popular Romanian Dishes