Traditional Romanian Christmas food – 9 dishes to try out

We, Romanians, are foodies. And we use every opportunity we have, be it formal or informal, to gather around the table and have a feast with our family and friends. Christmas, of course, is the biggest opportunity of all! On the 25th of December, big or small, we thoroughly enjoy our traditional Romanian Christmas food, and we hope that we don’t put too many kilos on. So, ladies and gentlemen, in order of their appearance on the table:

traditional Romanian Christmas food

Şoric (fried pork rind) ​

One of the favorite dishes of the Romanians, we munch on this while we drink a cup of hot ţuică (plum brandy) and wait for the hosts to set the table. 

We usually eat it a bit fried, but some people prefer it raw, with  a dash of salt on top. Either way, this is not a sight for the vegetarians. 

For us, the best way to eat it is with a bit of freshly baked bread and some garlic sauce. Your taste buds will thank you!

Traditional Romanian Christmas food – 9 dishes to try out

Deviled eggs ​

In our family, this is a special dish, because our grandmother prepares it to perfection. Instead of using the traditional recipe, with the mayonnaise and mustard cream on top, Grandma quickly throws together a paste made out of pork liver and butter and tastefully fills the egg halves. 

Iulia tried to do it one year and it was a complete disaster 🙈

traditional Romanian Christmas food

Some sort of beef salad​

We call it “boeuf” salad and, while it might have been taken from the French cuisine, we consider it a traditional dish, because we never have a family meal without it. It’s made of finely cut boiled potatoes and carrots, cooked beef, pickled cucumbers and peppers, all held together by homemade mayonnaise. A thrill to the eyes and taste buds. 

In each house, the decoration of the boeuf salad always falls on the shoulders of the children, who take turns in creating the most original design.  

Fish roe​

You might not think of it as a Christmas dish, but fish roe salad is also a food that can’t be missed. Fish roe are mixed with chopped onion and a bit of mayonnaise and spread on top of freshly baked bread. Simply marvelous!

All these appetizers, as we call them, prepare us for the “heavier” dishes on our Christmas table.

traditional Romanian Christmas food

Traditional Romanian Christmas food – 9 dishes to try out

Sarmale (cabbage meat rolls)

traditional Romanian Christmas food

This dish is present in every cuisine in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Of course, every cuisine has its own tricks up its sleeve, but, nevertheless, it is definitely a traditional dish to try out when visiting Romania. Minced pork meat, boiled rice, and spices, all rolled up in pickled cabbage and baked in the oven, along with tomato sauce for flavour! There is nothing more magical than a house, where cooking is done and nothing more “Christmassy” than the smell of sarmale. For our family, this smell will always remind us of our grandmother. Although she constantly complained of them being too hard to make, the sarmale were never absent from her table.

Mămăliga​

Foreigners know this as polenta. For us, it will always be the dish to go to, in case we are happy, sad, hungry or less hungry. In most houses in Romania, mămăliga is still cut with a string, in equal pieces, to be enough for everyone. When we eat it with sarmale, we eat it simple, as a side dish. But, most of the times, we eat it mixed with fatty cow cheese, sour cream and butter.
traditional Romanian Christmas food

Sausages ​

As you might have notice by now, most of our traditional Romanian Christmas dishes are made with pork meat. We do have vegetarian options, as well, but, truth be told, we are definitely more carnivours. Sausages are usually a cook’s pride and joy, always homemade with secret spices, transferred from one generation to another. Sausages are always cooked days in advance, to have time to dry and, in the countryside, they are smoked with beech wood.

Traditional Romanian Christmas food – 9 dishes to try out

Pork stew

The last dish to be served (of course, before desert!), by which time, everyone at the table is full and a bit tipsy already, is the pork stew, cooked fresh, in the oven, with just a bit of garlic sauce. Pork stew is always served with mixed pickles. Romanians pickle most vegetables, even some fruits. Our family’s favourite is the cauliflower pickle. Goes with everything and it is really tasty.

traditional Romanian Christmas food

Cozonac (Romanian sweet bread)​

The traditional Romanian desert is not something that can be missed. Each house has its own recipe and the smell of cozonac is the most awaited for by children. Our grandmother cooks a different type of cozonac for each member of our family. Andreea wants it only with cocoa, Iulia wants it with cocoa and raisins and our parents with everything, meaning, cocoa, raisins, and nuts. A glass of warm milk next to it and we are all ready to go to bed!

Although you might expect us not to eat anything the following day, we basically start all over again, because we usually visit our relatives and friends and they always want to serve us their own traditional Romanian Christmas dishes.

If you are curious to find out more and to taste some of our Romanian food, come visit us and we promise to take you to those places where the food is homecooked and the wine is just perfectly balanced. Who knows, you might be lucky enough to eat a meal prepared by our very own grandmother? Contact us, for more details!

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