Romania Tips

Traditional Romanian Easter Foods You Should Enjoy when Visiting

With the Easter celebrations right around the corner, I decided to offer this old article about traditional Easter foods in Romania a makeover and offer more details about what Romanians eat during the Easter celebrations because, well, who doesn’t enjoy finger-licking good food?

In Romania, there aren’t many occasions when feasts are expected: Easter is the first one of the year, followed later on by Christmas and maybe the New Year’s eve celebrations, sprinkled in between with a birthday celebration here and there.

However, the Easter has some of the most impressive foods of all celebrations – at least in my opinion – with some of them only cooked during these holidays. And I like them all, from lamb to salads and stews. I am sure you will love the traditional Easter foods in Romania as well!

In case you didn’t know, the Romanians love their food and even though more and more are starting to look into healthier options, traditional holiday foods are greasy, full of calories and… delicious. But first…

How to say Happy Easter in Romanian?

If you want to brag with your Romanian language, skills, this is how you say it: Paste fericit!

It’s also a custom, starting with the Easter Sunday, to greet people saying, instead of Hello, “Christos a inviat” (Christ is resurrected). There’s also a reply for that: “Adevarat a inviat” (Indeed, he is resurrected).

Now, let’s see what makes you gain those extra pounds if you decide to spend the Easter holidays in Romania: my favorite traditional Easter dishes!

Drob

drob

This is one of those foods that’s usually prepared for Easter only. It is my favorite food out of all Easter dishes and the main reason why I look forward to the spring holidays each year.

Although absolutely delicious, it’s made from the most horrible sounding stuff: the lamb’s organs (heart, liver, lungs and kidneys), mixed up with fresh and boiled eggs, green onions, garlic, parsley and dill. You bake it and you eat it like there’s no tomorrow, sometimes with a bit of mustard if you so prefer.

The drob in the photo above is one made by my wife a few years ago (when this article was originally published). That one is uses chicken liver only for the meat as I prefer the taste. (my stomach literally started growling as I thought about this deliciousness!)

Lamb Stew

lamb stew

Romanian rarely eat lamb throughout the year, but it’s the main meat during Easter. And since we love our soups and stews, a hearty lamb stew is a must.

This is usually a thick, delicious goo with a lot of fatty lamb meat, spring vegetables, rice or homemade pasta (called “taietei”) and a ton of home made tomato juice. Because, yes, in Romania, most of the things that you can buy in stores are still made at home by our parents and grandparents.

While I’m not a big fan of how lamb meat tastes like, I have to admit that this stew is out of this world if done right. As a bonus, if it’s not fatty enough for you, you can add some sour cream to improve it (Romanians say that this “fixes” a soup – “drege” in Romanian).

Sarmale

Source: here
Source: here

Romanians don’t need many excuses to prepare a huge pot of Sarmale (aka cabbage rolls) and the Easter celebrations are probably the last occasion for them to put the pickled cabbage from the winter to good use.

While you won’t always see them on all tables, since they’re traditional Christmas and New Year’s Eve dishes, many people still prepare them and enjoy them. I’m one of those people who believes that you can never have too many “sarmale” each year.

There are even jokes here regarding the fact that, whenever somebody serves you sarmale, you can’t get just one or two, but 6-7 instead. And you’ll eat them because they’re that good!

There are various ways to prepare them, but usually you have minced pork / beef meat, mixed with onions and rice, rolled in sauerkraut and boiled in a mixture of the sauerkraut’s juice, water and tomato juice. The result? Something absolutely delicious – even though it might not sound like it from reading the list of ingredients!

Lamb Chops

As I said, this is the time of the year to enjoy some lamb meat and the lamb chops are my favorites. However, you could get lamb ribs or any sort of a lamb steak, depending on what the family decides to have that year. Sometimes, you’ll get them all!

It’s usually served with baked potatoes and some fresh salad made of all the fresh greens available during the spring. Delicious!

Stufat

(no photos, sorry!)

A light, yet tasty stew made entirely of green onions, green garlic (its leaves included), curly dock (according to Google translate) and ramsons (again, thank you Google Translate). You can also throw in some olives if you want to, or keep it simple. Also, some add spinach as well – I don’t.

There are other alternatives, like mixing it with some lamb meat and boil them together for a thick, meaty stew and you can also add tomato juice for color and added flavor. I like mine plain, although I wouldn’t say no to any other type, to be honest.

It’s a pretty demanding job to prepare it (washing all those leaves, then cutting them is a real chore), but the end result is surprisingly tasty. You can have it as a side dish for your lamb or enjoy it as it is. Very good stuff!

Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs Bucovina

This is something that everybody will have during the Easter celebrations. You can go wild here when it comes to coloring them and decorating them, with the Bucovina region being famous for the complex models they use for their hand-painted Easter eggs.

While we don’t have the tradition of hiding the Easter eggs here in Romania, we do test who’s got the strongest egg by knocking them against each other – a favorite pastime especially for kids who learn all sort of tricks to end up victorious after all egg-knocking contests.

Pasca

pasca

A lot more delicious than it looks in the photo above (and we forgot to take some better pictures, too), this is a kind of a pie made with cheese, sugar, raisins and various other flavors like vanilla or rum. I would compare its taste with that of cheesecake, but Pasca is of course more delicious. Ha!

Cozonac

cozonac

Again, something that’s usually baked for any special occasion, while the sarmale are boiling. It was my wife’s first try and they were delicious (back in 2014), even though she used too much filling, so they cracked open during the baking.

They’re pretty easy to prepare: sweet dough rolled with a sweet mixture of walnuts, cocoa, raisins and Turkish delight (the last two can be omitted) and baked until ready.

So… there you have it! These are the traditional dishes that Romanians eat during the Easter holidays and the reasons why I usually gain so much weight during that time. They might not look like it, but they’re delicious! Happy Easter!

PS: If this article tickled your appetite and made you hungry, then you should definitely NOT look at my article of 20 traditional Romanian dishes you must try at least once in your life.

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22 Comments

  1. That lamb stew looks flipping awesome. Thanks for sharing these dishes, C. Romania isn’t currently on the list of countries we’ll visit next year, but we’re going to be fairly close…maybe we can make it happen.

  2. Hi C: You are kidding about Baby Romanian enjoying Bucharest’s air, I think;-) Did you drive or take a bus or train from your home in the SW? Maybe you decided to tough it out with Bucharest’s traffic? Does Mother-in-Law Romanian live right in downtown Bucharest, or is she in a quieter part of town? I guess the weather is pleasant at this time, though.
    Your wife must be an excellent cook, as the referenced pictures attest. Now, if I DIDN’T know what the ingredients were, I’d eat all with gusto. (I just could NOT force myself to eat a wooly little lamb;-()
    Is there a “vegetarian scene,” anywhere? There’s a lot that can be made “meatless” with soy and tofu, and one can still enjoy a “meaty” taste, with less guilt over the high cholesterol and fat content of the “original.” Plus, you save the lives of our barnyard pals, the chickens, cows, pigs and sheep;-)
    Has Wife Romanian, with her obvious culinary skills, considered vegetarian substitutes?
    Thanks for a real “Romanian Experience”!
    ~Teil (USA)

    1. Hello, Teil!
      All of the above can be made without meat/eggs/milk, but they won’t taste the same. I made the Pasca dish egg free because we think baby Romanian has an egg intolerance, so that was the only dish I could eat, which is a shame cuz they smelled delicious.
      He forgot to mention the pork steak he did on Sunday, it usually is with lamb but we don’t like it very much. Plus you have to buy it very fast or else they run out.
      I did consider a vegetarian lifestyle, at least one with dairy, but I think is harder here to find your veggies in winter, and Baby Romanian needs the meat at the moment.
      I really admire those who can go vegetarian, I think it needs a strong will and determination.

    2. Hello Teal, yes, I was joking about the Bucharest air 🙂 My Mother in Law doesn’t live in a central location, but Bucharest is busy everywhere – even the suburbs are starting to get crowded, although there’s a different life out there.

      There are quite a few vegetarians here and one would have no trouble living well as one. We have reduced meat consumption – at least processed meat consumption.

  3. Hi C.& Wife Romanian
    I am in total awe of this banquet you have laid before us readers. I can say that I would enjoy all but the Drob. I’m not a fan of Offal, (except for liver) being that of any animal. But hey, that’s not to diminish the dish. That is a home grown Romanian celebratory dish, and I respect that. I would eat it, if it was put in front of me. It would not be nice manners not to eat it. I could only imagine the wrath of the cook if I didn’t eat it.
    PS. Compliments to Wife Romanian for the dishes cooked and baked. The photos of the dishes are great, and I could only imagine the aroma of them. I wish there was “smell-a-vision”, so we could all get a sample of the aromas.

    1. Thanks, Shawn! They were indeed delicious! And I would personally accept if you wouldn’t want to try something you don’t like. I like liver, but not the other organs either, and that’s why we tuned down the drob to only use that.

      We also have a dish – a stew/soup thingie – made of cow’s stomach and for years I couldn’t get myself to taste it especially because it smells quite bad. But recently I decided to give it a try and it was actually really good. So some things that sound creepy might be tasty – but it’s not a problem if you don’t consider them like that!

    2. Hi, Shawn!
      I can say I am the kind of cook that asks before serving. I know I had trouble eating drob, but that was before I made it myself. So nothing is served unless you really like it, no point in spoil a dish on someone who doesn’t like it. More for us!!! :))) No, in fact the custom is to put everything on the table and everyone help themselfs with what they want. It usually is so much food that aren’t too many that can eat out of everything, so it is best to choose wisely, or leave some for later.

  4. Oh, I would so eat every last thing! They look delicious, especially the cozonac and stew. Anything with lamb just has to be good..:0) . Wife Romanian is a great cook from the pictures!!!

  5. Congrats on your blogging award C! That’s pretty awesome. I haven’t had Romanian food before but it looks great. There are some Romanian restaurants here in NYC…I should try it out one day.

  6. Let’s toss in a new comment! I still have fond memories of sarmale. I never associated them with Easter; I ate them every chance I got at all times of the year! I hope I haven’t already told this story, but I had a special Easter experience in a small village. I had befriended a Romanian who was “in training” to become a priest, and for Easter he invited me to go to this small town where a friend of his was the pastor. I was allowed to sit behind the partition in the front of the church. The pastor had to keep singing/chanting loudly while he was engaged in a lot of hectic activity. The parishioners couldn’t see anything from the other side of the partition. Sometimes the pastor would gesticulate that he couldn’t find something or that we should help him in some way, all the while singing in a loud voice. The Easter mass lasted all through the night until daybreak, but there never was a dull moment. It was truly an unforgettable experience and an honor to be allowed to look “behind the scenes.”

    1. Haha, great story! I always wondered what happens behind the curtains. I do remember when I was younger and I spent the entire night in front of the church with a crowd of people, waiting for the “light” (from the candles) to be passed over. It was interesting as well.

  7. Wife Romanian must be an excellent chef. You’re quite a lucky fella!
    As pour moi, I follow the “Mister Rogers School of Eating”: Never eat anything that once had a mother;-)
    I bet faux meat could be substituted in most of the dishes requiring meat.
    Can’t imagine the effort it takes to decorate those eggs! Moi would have them painted on unbreakable porcelain (is that an oxymoron?) or some type of plastic egg to save for future years of Easters. I would surely cry if one of those beauties cracked.;-(
    Do you have Easter baskets full of chocolate bunnies, Peeps, candies, and little (or big;-)) toys for us kids? Those pre-made made, humongous Easter baskets are a mainstay here in the USA.

  8. I had to Google “Peeps” to find out what they are, but yes, we do have those “gift baskets” with all sorts of Easter-related sweets and goodies. They’re still not extremely popular as people still prefer to assemble their own, but more and more types seem to become available in the stores each year.

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