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7 Easy Romanian Recipes My Grandma Makes

By Hexa Fleet

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Are you looking for the secrets to easy Romanian Recipes that only the real-deal Grandmas know? I asked my Romanian friend Hexa to spend some time with her lovely Granny to get the lowdown (and steal the best of the best). We succeeded!

7 Easy Romanian Recipes My Grandma Makes

Here you will find the true essence of Romania through its delicious, wholesome and super tasty food. It’s an honour to be able to share with you what the traditional local ladies actually make; a big thank you to guest author Hexa for persuading her Grandma to share everything.

Romanian food

Below you will find recipes for Vegetarian Quince Stew, Stuffed Bell Peppers, Bean Spread, Ciorba de Perișoare (Meatball soup), Sarmale cu varză acră (Meat rolls with sour cabbage), Grandma’s Special Pancakes (yum) andm Griș cu lapte (Semolina with Milk).

Let’s get cooking!

Vegetarian quince stew

Quinces are a fruit which is not frequently found in western food recipes. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it outside of a menu in a Romanian restaurant or in my Grandma’s kitchen. Nevertheless, this unusual ingredient is one that is well-loved in my family and by many other Romanians.

Romanian food

Notes from my Grandma about Vegetable Quince stew!

Note from my Grandma’s recipe book: “At my mother’s house we used to eat delicious sauces made with apples, black cherries, and gooseberries, alongside boiled beef or poultry. When I moved down south, I started making quince stew as well.”

You will need

  • 2 kilograms of quinces
  • 200 grams sugar
  • 50 milliliters oil or butter
  • 50 grams flour or cornstarch
  • 100 milliliters white wine
  • A pinch of salt

How to make Vegetarian Quince Stew

  1. Peel the quinces and remove the seeds by cutting the quinces into slices, similar to orange slices
  2. Wash and dry the quinces with a paper towel
  3. Fry the quinces in hot oil
  4. Remove the quinces from the frying pan and add the flour or cornstarch, the sugar, and the salt into the pan, but do not allow them to caramelize
  5. Slowly add in the wine, stirring to create a sauce
  6. Add the quinces back into the pan and simmer until the quinces are soft, but not mushy

Special Tips

This dish can be served hot or cold, as a dish on its own or as a side for meat dishes.

Note from mom: this food always tastes better the next day after it’s been cooked.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

A favorite not only in Romanian cuisine, but also featured in many other European recipes, stuffed bell peppers are a delicious traditional food served at many special occasions, but also for an average, normal Romanian dinner with the family.

romanian recipes

Delicious stuffed bell peppers, Romanian style!

Note from grandma’s recipe book: “Although this is a food eaten during the Summer, when all the ingredients are fresh, I remember my mother had the habit of preserving adequately sized bell peppers, either by putting them in a jar with water and aspirin, or by drying them out, and later freezing them. Now you can buy them in any season”.

You will need:

  • 10-12 medium sized bell peppers
  • 1 kilogram of minced meat (mix of pork and beef—note from mom: grandma has not sold all her secrets in this recipe book, but mom knows from experience that the pork should be more fatty and the beef more lean)
  • 2 medium white onions
  • 100-150 grams of rice (pre-soak in cold water)
  • Oil
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Celery
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 eggs

How to make Stuffed Bell Peppers:

  1. Wash the bell peppers and remove the stalk, seeds and veins, carefully leaving the rest of the bell pepper intact. Leave upside down to drain.
  2. Chop the onions, dill and parsley. Drain the rice.
  3. Lightly fry the onions, dill, parsley, rice, salt and pepper in a slightly oiled frying pan. Let cool.
  4. Crack two eggs into the minced meat mixture. Add the vegetables and rice. Mix together well.
  5. Fill the bell peppers with the mixture.
  6. Drizzle some oil into the bottom of a deep pot. Cover the bottom with celery stalks and leaves (not chopped—just cut to length so they fit the pot)
  7. Place the bell peppers inside the pot, with the open side up.
  8. Fill the pot with water and the two cans of tomato sauce so as to cover the bell peppers completely
  9. Season with sugar, salt, and pepper
  10. Bring to boil on high heat, then reduce to a low heat and leave to simmer for 2 hours or until cooked, with a lid on the pot

Special Tips

For a thicker sauce, you can add a tablespoon of cornstarch diluted in half a cup of water towards the end of the cooking time, and let boil for another few minutes.

Serve with fresh dill and parsley, as well as sour cream or yogurt. You may also add a little bit of extra sugar to complement the taste of the tomatoes and the bell peppers.

Bean spread

There’s a whole slew of Romanian recipes that include beans. This particular one is great because it makes for a lovely side dish or an easy spread to eat as as midnight snack.

romanian recipes

A Romanian favorite - bean spread!

You will need

  • 500 grams of white beans (we spent several minutes laughing because apparently the proper name is navy beans, which suggests they are blue, which they are not) – leave these to soak in cold water overnight
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sweet paprika powder
  • 2 red onions

How to make Bean Spread

  1. Put the beans in a pot with cold water and salt, and bring to a boil
  2. After boiling the beans for 10-15 minutes, remove the water
  3. Cover the beans with a fresh pot of hot water and continue boiling until the beans are soft (this seemingly redundant step is apparently meant to reduce the gassy side effects of eating beans—we don’t know if it’s true but we’re not willing to risk it)
  4. Once the beans have boiled well, drain the water out
  5. Place the beans in a bowl with 4-5 cloves of peeled garlic,150 milliliters of vegetable oil, and salt and pepper to taste
  6. Blend together with a hand blender, creating a fluffy paste
  7. Chop two medium red onions (Julienne style). Place the onions in a frying pan with oil, salt and two tablespoons of sweet paprika powder. Fry with the lid on the frying pan until the onions are soft.
  8. Serve the bean paste with some delicious fried onion on top

Special Tips

Bean Spread can be served hot or cold, and works great as a spread or dip to be eaten with bread.

Ciorba de Perișoare (Meatball Soup)

This is the popular Romanian meatball soup. If you haven’t heard of it before, that’s alright. But I can promise that once you’ve tried it, you’ll be coming back for more. This is one of my all-time favorite typical Romanian foods, and one of the best soup recipes out there.

romanian food

Homemade meatball soup!

You will need

  • Half a kilogram of minced lean pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 grams of rice left to soak in water for a few minutes
  • 2 white onions
  • 2 carrots
  • A quarter of a celery root
  • One large red bell pepper
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Lovage
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Borș

How to make Ciorba de Perișoare

  1. Put two and a half liters of water in a pot to boil
  2. Chop the carrots, half of the bell pepper, celery root, and one of the onions and put in the pot to boil
  3. Finely chop the other half of the bell pepper and the other onion
  4. Mix chopped onion, bell pepper, dill and parsley into the minced meat, along with the rice (drained) and two eggs. Add salt and pepper and mix well.
  5. Form the minced meat mixture into meatballs slightly smaller than a ping pong ball
  6. Place the meatballs into the pot, in which the vegetables are already boiling
  7. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce to a low heat and continue boiling for at least half an hour, or until the meat is cooked completely. Add salt to taste.
  8. If you have liquid borș, boil one liter of borș separately and pour over the soup. Leave to boil together for another few minutes.
  9. If you do not have liquid borș, you can use about 2-3 tablespoons of powdered borș

Special Tips

Serve the soup with freshly chopped lovage on top, and sour cream to taste

Sarmale cu varză acră (Meat rolls with sour cabbage)

The famous Romanian sarmale, or cabbage rolls, are the one dish you absolutely cannot miss when visiting Romania. If you were to ask me, “What is Romania’s favorite dish?” this would be my answer. A must for Christmas in Romania, this Romanian recipe is one that you simply cannot do without if you’re going to learn to cook Romanian food. These are always made with a lot of love and care by the head lady of the family, so I hope this recipe helps you do us proud.

easy romnian recipes

You will need

  • 1 kilogram of moderately fat minced pork
  • 2 or 3 white onions
  • Vegetable oil
  • 100 grams of rice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sweet paprika powder
  • Pickled cabbage (sour/salty, not sweet)
  • Smoked bacon
  • Thyme
  • Canned tomato sauce

How to make Sarmale cu varză acră

  1. Leave the rice to soak in cold water for a few minutes, then drain
  2. Chop two or three white onions finely
  3. Drizzle some vegetable oil in a frying pan and cook the chopped onions, together with the rice, salt (do not add too much, because the cabbage is also salty), pepper, and sweet paprika powder. Cook until the rice softens slightly
  4. Leave the mix to cool down, then mix into the minced meat
  5. Cut the stalk off a pickled cabbage, and lay the leaves out flat. Take a large spoonful of the minced meat mixture, place in the center of the leaf, roll tightly, and push in the ends
  6. After you have finished wrapping all the cabbage rolls, take any remaining cabbage stalks and leaves, and chop them
  7. Drizzle some oil on the bottom of a large pot, and cover the bottom of the pot with the chopped cabbage leftovers
  8. Place the cabbage rolls neatly in concentric circles inside the pot, placing pieces of smoked bacon and dry thyme stalks in between the layers
  9. Cover the cabbage rolls with water, and you can also pour in a can of tomato sauce if you like. Boil on low heat for several hours until most of the water is gone and the meat is completely cooked through. Gently shake the pot from side to side occasionally to prevent the leaves from sticking to the sides.

Special Tips

Serve with sour cream!

Grandma sometimes puts the sarmale in the oven for a while after removing them from the pot.

Grandma’s Pancake Recipe

This dish does not quite fall into the realm of Romanian desserts. In fact this is more of a French recipe, so if you catch yourself wondering, what is uniquely Romanian about this dish, the answer is nothing. This pancake recipe is my grandma’s version of a French crepe. In Romanian they are known as “clătite”—a thin pancake with no sugar in the batter, so that it can be served with either sweet or salty fillings.

You will need:

  • 10 generous tablespoons of flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 800 milliliters of milk
  • A cup of sparkling water
  • Salt
  • Lemon zest
  • 100 milliliters of vegetable oil

How to make Grandma’s Pancake Recipe

  1. Put the flour, a pinch of salt and the zest from one lemon into a large bowl
  2. Put the eggs into the bowl over the flour and mix until combined
  3. Pour in the milk, sparkling water, and oil. Again, mix until combined, making sure that there are no lumps.
  4. Leave the mix in the fridge for at least ten minutes
  5. Using a non-stick pan, use one ladle of the mix per pancake. They should be thin and delicate. No oil is needed for the pan, since the oil is already inside the pancake batter, so if you have a good pan there should be no problems with it sticking.

Special Tips

These pancakes can be served with jam, honey, chocolate spread, bananas, maple syrup, or really anything your heart desires. Unlike American style pancakes, these are best eaten as rolls. For a delicious salty filling, use “urdă” and fresh dill. Urdă is a type of cheese curd that is light, creamy, and usually unsalted. My grandma makes a type of “pie” which is really just multiple layers of crepes, urdă and dill all on top of each other. It’s delicious.

Griș cu lapte (Semolina with Milk)

This is a favorite among simple Romanian dessert recipes you can easily make at home. I confess, I had never heard the term “semolina” before translating it from Romanian, but it’s a type of porridge made from a coarse wheat powder that doesn’t quite count as flour.

easy romanian recipes

Note from grandma’s recipe book: “The children ate this with great pleasure when they were very little. I mixed their baby formula powder into rice water (the water that’s left over after boiling rice). When they were older I started making a thinner version of semolina with milk. When they were even bigger, I started making the semolina thicker.”

You will need

  • One litre of milk
  • 200 grams of semolina (purified wheat middlings
  • A pinch of salt
  • Sugar (to taste)
  • Lemon zest
  • Vanilla (essence or pod)
  • Cocoa powder
  • Confectioner’s Sugar

How to make Semolina with Milk

  1. Boil the milk in a large pot with a heavy bottom
  2. After the milk has come to a boil, stir the semolina in bit by bit so as to prevent lumps
  3. When the semolina has been completely stirred in, add the other ingredients, stir them in, and allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot
  4. When thickened and soft, pour into the serving bowl and top with cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar
  5. Leave to cool down until a tasty crust forms on the surface

Special Tips

Other toppings such as jam or honey may also be used instead of cocoa powder

What are your favourite easy Romanian recipes?

Being in the kitchen with my Grandma was so much fun. It was a pleasure to go through these Romanian recipes with her and hear about her special tips. I hope you enjoy the pages I copied from her recipe book. Isn’t her handwriting beautiful?

Comment Below

Do you have any more Romanian recipes that you would like to share? Make sure to comment below and discover more destinations in Europe with me.

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About Hexa Fleet

Hexa Fleet
Hexa is a Romanian singer, self-taught makeup artist, and writer. Living in Shanghai since the age of 3, she now lives in northern Germany with her family. She's fluent in Romanian, English and Mandarin and is trying to learn German and Danish! She shares posts about makeup, fashion, body positivity and mental health and hopes to build upon the 10 countries she has visited already! Check out her YouTube @hexafleet

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7 Easy Romanian Recipes My Grandma Makes