My favorite vegetarian food in Romania
The Romanian kitchen has a lot of dishes with meat in it, so before I traveled in Romania I was a bit concerned if I would like the food as a vegetarian. But those worries were unnecessary. There are a lot of nice vegetarian dishes to try in Romania. I lived for a couple of months in Romania and in this blog I share my favorite vegetarian food in Romania!
Tips for vegetarian dishes in Romania
1. Menu de poste: the Romanian vegetarian menu
Most Romanian restaurants – especially the ones with traditional food – have a “meniu de post”. This is a menu for Orthodox-Christians that don’t eat meat sometimes because of religious reasons. They fast, but it only means that they will not eat meat. Because they can eat vegetarian dishes you can always ask for that extra menu with vegetarian options. If the menu is not on the table, don’t worry: you can ask the staff about the menu de post options.
2. Use HappyCow to find vegetarian and vegan restaurants
I use HappyCow a lot to check and find vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the area. With the app I found Bistro Raw Vegan in Bucharest (the food is delicious and the prices are fair) and Rawdia in Brasov (I would recommend to get the daily changed lunch menu with soup and a dish). HappyCow has an app and a website where you can search for vegetarian and vegan restaurants (or restaurants that have those options).
My favorite vegetarian food in Romania
Zacuscă is so delicious! The first time I tried zacuscă was in Buila-Vânturarita and ever since I am addicted to this spread. Zacuscă is made with roasted eggplants, onion, tomatoes and bell peppers. It tastes a bit like baba ganoush, my favorite mezze from the Middle East. Most Romanian families have a lot of zacuscă in stock, especially in winter time. You can use zacuscă as a spread on your bread in the morning, but you can also use it as a dip for lunch, dinner or a snack.
A Romanian dish that you can serve me every day to make me happy is sarmale. Sarmale is a dish that is made of stuffed cabbage rolls. They fill it with minced vegetables, spices and rice for the vegetarian version. They put minced meat in it as well, unless you ask for the vegetarian sarmale. Most of the times they use cabbage leaves to make sarmale, but in some regions they use wine leaves as well. Especially in families and places where they produce wine. Sarmale is served with mămăligă and chili peppers.
So mămăligă is not really a main dish, but it’s probably the most important side dish in Romania. Mămăligă is the Romanian version of polenta (originally from Italy). It looks a lot like mashed potatoes, but the taste is more neutral and polenta is not as soft as mashed potatoes. Mămăligă is made out of maize flour and the best ones have some melted butter on top of it. In general they serve mămăligă with sour cream.
Bulz is vegetarian food in Romania that is less well known. It’s basically a ball of mămăligă, filled with soft cheese and then roasted in an oven or on the grill. In general it’s served with a fried egg on top of it.
5. Vegetable soup
For most Romanians the lunch is the most important meal of the day. And they will not have lunch without some soup. In general it’s soup, main dish AND dessert if they wanna enjoy a good lunch. So soups are really important for Romanians and there are a lot of options. Also a lot of vegetarian ones fortunately. One of my favorites is the classic vegetable soup. On menus you can find the soups either under ‘supa’ or ‘ciorba’.
6. Mushroom soup
Mushrooms are really popular in most Romanian dishes. They simply love mushrooms. And that’s a good thing for vegetarians, because mushrooms are a great meat substitute for vegetarians!
And there is some more inspiration for vegetarian soups in Romania. Borscht is a popular soup in Eastern European countries like Ukraine and Poland. This soup is made of beetroot. Sometimes they add meat to the soup, so ask in restaurants if you can have the vegetarian borscht.
The most famous dessert in Romania is papanasi… and it’s for vegetarians as well! You pronounce it as ‘papanash’, because in Romanian language you don’t pronounce the -i at the end of the words. Papanasi is a deep fried bun filled with soft cheese and topped with sour cream, jam and some berries or cherries. Super delicious and a perfect way to end your dinner.
This is my favorite vegetarian food in Romania, but maybe you know more vegetarian dishes in Romania? Let me and other travellers know via the comments!