Monday, December 9, 2013

10 Traditional Romanian Soups

As promised in the previous post, I will prolong our Romanian culinary journey, by introducing you to another category which plays a major role among Romanian traditional meals: the soups.
While for most countries, a soup is a liquid dish which can contain various ingredients, for Romanians soups are divided into two categories: what you would call a soup, and our traditional sour soups, very outrageous for foreigners, but also very appreciated.

In what follows, I will present you some of our most popular traditional soups, which according to the souring ingredient can be called Ciorbă or Borş.

1. Ciorbă de burtă (Tripe Soup)
Although it probably sounds disgusting for a foreigner, since the main ingredient is the tripe (cow's stomach), this dish is a true delicacy, very refined, very sophisticated and also one of the most expensive to be found in restaurants. The souring agent used in this soup is vinegar, and of course, sour cream.
For all the curious ones, this is the recipe.

2. Borş de perişoare (Meatball Sour Soup)
This is normally the favourite soup of foreigners. Definitely something to remember Romania by. Soured with the traditional borş (fermented wheat bran), this dish combines a velvety green's soup, with the delightfully spicy meatballs, resulting in a delicious treat for any lunch or dinner.
Here you can find the recipe.

3. Ciorbă or Borş de Peşte (Fish Soup)
As well as some of you might know, Romania is the home of the Danube Delta, famous for its rare and varied flora and fauna. Fish is obviously the most popular ingredient in the area, and locals use it for literally all meals. 
The fish soup has its roots in the Delta, and probably nowhere else in the country you can eat one as good as there. The main part of the fish soup, is the fish's head, and the whole cooking of the soup process goes around it. Sour, filled with vegetables and with the deliciously cooked fish, this soup is sure to please any food lover.
Here is a very simple and nice recipe.

4. Ciorbă de salată (Green Salad and Smoked Meat Soup)
Although it probably sounds weird, the soup of green salad leaves and smoked meat is a true delight for the senses. Combined with rice, eggs, greens, and served with sour-cream or yoghurt, this Romanian delicacy has a very unique taste and it is famous for its special flavours and also, for its health benefits.
I was not able to find any English recipe for it, but I can certainly advise you to try it during your next trip to Romania.

5. Ciorbă Rădăuţeană (Soup from Rădăuţi)
As even the name suggests it, this soup has its roots in the town of Rădăuţi, situated in the North-Eastern part of Romania, and it came to life as an alternative to the popular Tripe Soup. Unlike the Tripe Soup, this dish uses chicken meat, which combined with vegetables, eggs, vinegar, condiments and sour-cream, results in one of the most savoury and delicious soups in the Romanian cuisine.
This recipe is really good and easy to prepare.

6. Ciorbă țărănească (Peasant Soup)
This traditional Romanian dish is one of the oldest and most unsophisticated soups, but at the same time full of vitamins and perfect for a cold winter's dinner. It can contain all types of meat (or none) and numerous vegetable, greens and condiments combinations. It can be served with sour-cream or hot peppers and it is sure to make your meal a delicious one.
Here you can find an extremely simple vegetarian Peasant Soup.

7. Ciorbă de potroace (Giblets Soup)
Yes, you read it correctly! It's giblets! This soup is normally made cooked from the wings, necks, hearts and gizzards of whatever poultry you have around. It is most famous for its healing effect, being the best cure for hangovers. This is mainly because its essential ingredient is sour cabbage juice, which makes it extremely sour, but terribly delicious. And trust me, this soup can heal you like nothing else! 
If you are curious, here is the recipe of the Giblets Soup.

8. Ciorbă de fasole cu afumătură (Bean and Smoked Meat Soup)
My own personal favourite. I don't have enough words to express how amazing the smoked pork meat combines with the bean soup, which has of course, the typical sourness of Romanian soups. This is the type of food that once you try, you will keep on craving for it. 
This is the recipe and please, take my advice: try it!

9. Ciorbă de văcuţă (Beef Soup)
Obviously a soup which can be found in a lot of countries from all around the world. However, the Romanian version is unique due to the usage of a souring agent (yes, we like our soups sour!), which gives it a special flavour and a savour that you cannot encounter anywhere else.
There are many ways to cook it, but here is an accessible recipe.

10. Supă cu găluşte (Clear chicken soup with dumplings)
Finally a soup by all international definitions. Including the Romanian one. Classical soup, with nothing sour in it, but with those absolutely lovely semolina dumplings instead. Adored by everyone, this soup has multiple health benefits, being the best (and most delicious) cure for colds.
Here is the recipe for the Romanian dumpling soup.

So that was it about Romanian soups. I tried to keep it to a bare minimum, but there is much more out there then just these 10 examples. Romanians take pride in their soups, and traditionally, they consume them every day. But since I cannot possible write about them all, I suggest you to go and try them out for yourselves. And trust me, you will not regret it!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

10 Traditional Romanian Meat Dishes

In honour to my motherland, I will make our first culinary stop in Romania , by presenting you a few of my country's signature dishes, which any tourist must indulge themselves into.
Ranging from our traditional sour soups, to stews, salads, varieties of cheese, sweets and of course, national spirits, Romanian cuisine has something to offer to even the pickiest food lover out there.

I will start, therefore, with 10 of our most popular meat dishes, definitely not recommended for anyone being on a diet!

1. Sarmale (Stuffed cabbage or grape leaves)
Consisting in minced pork meat, smoked pork meat, pork fat, rice, greens and vegetables, this culinary delight needs to be part of any Romanian holiday feast, but it is traditionally one of the most important Christmas foods.
Foreigners are normally crazy about it, so for the interested ones, here you can find the recipe. Well, it is honestly quite far from the original, but I couldn't find any better one in English.

2. Ardei umpluţi (Stuffed Peppers)
Practically the same as Sarmale, but with peppers instead of cabbage. According to the original taste of the peppers, this dish can be hot or simply deliciously flavoured. Meat can also be combined.
Here you can find one way of cooking them: Romanian Stuffed Peppers

3. Caltaboşi (Sausages)
Well no, not the sausages you might have in mind. However, English does not have an equivalent to this. Another traditional Christmas dish (yes, in Romania it's all about pork for Christmas), these huge sausages consist in pork organs, which are stuffed in pork bowels. Sounds gross? In reality, they taste delicious. 
However, in order not to completely freak you out, here is the less scary recipe.

4. Mici or Mititei
And because we are in the sausages section, I will present you something which some might consider similar to sausages, but they are certainly not. English has no translation for these grilled babies, however their Romanian name means "smalls", if that makes any sense to you. Romanians cook them at all possible grill parties, and foreigners simply adore them.
This recipe might come in handy.

5. Pârjoale (Meat Balls)
Extremely simple to make and terribly delicious! 
Here you can find a good recipe.

6. Drob
A truly delightful traditional Romanian Easter dish, which is made of lamb meat, vegetables, eggs and greens. Spices play an important role in the success of this recipe, however, there are thousands of combinations that can be made, and the result is most of the time amazing.
Here you can find a detailed recipe of the Romanian Drob.

7. Răcitură (Jelled Pigs Feet)
It probably sounds disgusting to foreigners, but if you enjoy jelly, then why not try meat jelly? Not the easiest to prepare, but the result is definitely worth it. 
With slight differences, this can be found in other national cuisines, however, the taste is different.
Here is an easier recipe for the Romanian Răcitură.

8. Tochitură
This wonderful combination of ingredients differs according to the region of the country where it is being cooked. However, the Moldavian version is one of the most popular and consists of fried meat, cheese, mămăligă (the Romanian polenta) and eggs. It is a true delight for the taste buds.
You can find here one version of this amazing dish: recipe.

9. Mâncare de limbă (Tongue stew)
The most popular way of cooking the beef tongue is by combining it with olives and lemon. However, there are multiple ingredients that can be added to increase the flavour of this dish.
This would be one typical way of cooking the Romanian Tongue Stew.

10. Slănină (Romanian Bacon)
Well, this is literally fat. Pork fat. No dietician would ever recommend you to get close to it. However, once you do there's really no going back.
I strongly doubt any foreigner would be curious of trying to make it at home, but in any case, here you can find the recipe.

These are some of the meat dishes that Romanians traditionally cook and that any tourist should definitely try. However, this list is not complete, since it would be quite a challenge to exhaust this topic, but it certainly contains the most popular foods, especially among foreigners.

In my next post I will try to cover another food category in which Romania holds quite a few national particularities.