1. Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls)
Considered to be Romania's national dish, these stuffed cabbage rolls are actually of Turkish origins, but the Romanians claim that theirs are the best.
And they are probably right.
The initial recipe was strongly modified over time until it reached what is considered to be now the perfect stuffing. A balanced mixture of rice and minced meat (usually pork or pork combined with beef) and other vegetables and local herbs is rolled in cabbage leaves or young grape leaves for a delicate flavor.
Pro tip: if you want to take this dish to the next level, use pickled cabbage leaves for extra flavor.
The tastiest cabbage rolls are those slowly cooked in clay pots in the oven, covered with a little water, some cabbage brine for sourness, and some slices of traditional bacon for a tasty smoky touch. Traditionally served with mamaliga (often translated as polenta, this is a corn flour mush replacing bread in many traditional dishes) and sour cream, the Romanian cabbage rolls are not only delicious, but very creamy, consistent, and extremely satisfying.
2. Ciorba de burta (tripe soup)
When it comes to tripe soup, you either love it or hate it. This traditional food has a very strong aroma and a velvety texture which is the result of several hours of work. Besides the beef tripe, this dish also uses beef and pork legs which, are boiled for several hours in order to obtain the delicious soup.
Counterintuitively, the tripe is not the most important part of the dish, but the soup itself. Besides the bones, several vegetables are used to obtain its delicious taste, such as carrots, bell peppers, hot peppers, celery, and parsley.
Close to the end, a couple of garlic cloves are added in order to enrich the flavor, and everything is served with sour cream, hot peppers, and toast.
3. Ciorba Radautean (Radauti Soup)
Ciorbă refers to a type of traditional soup which can be served in many different ways, depending on the ingredients used. But the one called rădăuțeană is among the most appreciated in Romania.
"Invented" in the late '70s in the city of Radauti, this dish is actually an alternative to the above-mentioned soup - the tripe soup, which was considered to be too heavy and many people didn't enjoy the particular flavor of the tripe. So instead of tripe, ciorba rădăuțeană uses chicken breast.
To keep it simple, this dish has plenty of sour cream and garlic in it, and for the specific sour taste, vinegar is used. It's a delicious soup, a whole meal in itself. Best served with homemade bread.
100% Romanian, balmoș is a traditional shepherd dish, a genuine tribute to the famous mamaliga, which will blow your mind when tasting it. It's buttery and sticky, it's soft and silky like a cream but heavy and rich in taste, and it has tons of cheese in it.
And it's incredibly easy to make if you have the right ingredients!
Sour cream is boiled with butter and a bit of salt for a couple of minutes. Then, the corn flour is added until it is properly boiled with no lumps in it, and finally, plenty of salty traditional fermented cheese is added.
Served extra hot, with some butter and sweet cheese on top, balmoș is the perfect dish for cold winter nights when all you want is something truly tasty and comforting.