Rich and multicultural, Romanian Christmas food is a temptation for anyone with an appetite for large and succulent portions with meat as the almost omnipresent main ingredient. As Romanian people make a feast of all major religious celebrations, food is bound to be abundant and delicious. This is why Christmas is such a great time to make a culinary tour of Romanian food.
One of the top Romanian dishes to try in December, this sweet bread is one of the highlights of Christmas all around the country. Prepared with different fillings, but traditionally with walnut cream, cozonac is a culinary symbol that reunites families and recalls memories of celebrating Christmas at any age. Although all supermarkets and pastry shops have a wide variety of cozonac for sale this time of the year, do try the home-made version. It’s a treat.
Photo credits Paul Istoan
One of the Romanian dishes that best represent the Balkan influence is the popular sarmale, stuffed cabbage or vine leaves with a mix of rice, minced meat, onion, tomatoes, and herbs. A favorite for most Romanians, this dish is usually served with cream and polenta and is a sure presence on all Christmas tables across the country.
Pork is by excellence the main meat used to prepare the Christmas meals. Strongly related to the tradition of sacrificing the pig before the religious celebration, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without all the home-made pork products that include various sausages and ham recipes and a long list of specialties like toba, muschi, caltabos, chisca, the main ingredients of all Christmas appetizers.
Photo credits Nitu Iulian
Pork meat is not only used for appetizers but also to prepare the main dishes of the Christmas meals. Recipes vary according to region, but one of the most popular is the pork stew with tomato sauce served with polenta and some sour cheese on the side. This dish is best served alongside a wide variety of pickles prepared especially for this time of the year.
Photo credits Nitu Iulian
Romanians have a strong appetite for eating pickles and many still prepare their own home-made supplies for winter. The most popular recipes include pickled cucumber, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, cabbage, green tomatoes, or small watermelons. Pickles are served together with appetizers and main dishes, usually with meat-based recipes.
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One of the most delicious Romanian dishes, piftia, also known regionally as racituri, is an aspic recipe prepared traditionally with smoked pork leg and garlic for the Christmas meal. Very easy to prepare and served with warm polenta, this aspic dish is one of our favorite Romanian Christmas food. Needless to say, we strongly encourage you to try the home-made version.
A traditional Romanian braided bread, colacii are a powerful symbolic element of all religious celebrations in Romania but also of major life moments like weddings and funerals. They were given to carolers on Christmas Eve and are even today present in the rural version of the Christmas meal.
These are just a few of the delicious dishes we enjoy during Christmas, but many more are savored each year during these special days. We hand-picked the most wide-spread Romanian Christmas food so you can embark yourself on a fun culinary tour. It’s definitely a delicious ride.