15 Popular Romanian Easter Foods to Try Out This Year
Christmas and Easter are the two most important holidays in Romania. This is when families come together, everyone gets to rest, relax and, of course, enjoy delicious foods. Now, everyone has different tastes, and we’re always on the lookout for new and innovative recipes. But there are certain staples that are never missing from the Romanian dinner table during the holidays.
Tradition is very important in Eastern Europe, and Easter in Romania is nothing short of festive. It’s also an important religious holiday, especially in the Orthodox community, which makes up more than 85% of the population.
Easter celebrates Jesus’s resurrection three days after crucifixion. Painting eggs on the Thursday before Easter, circling the church on Good Friday, playing the semantron, or toaca, and attending Easter Mass on Sunday are crucial traditions that many Romanians continue to follow every year.
Another significant tradition during Easter is the food. While traditional Romanian foods such as sarmale, zacuscă, or boeuf salad are staples for both Easter and Christmas, there are also special dishes that are commonly associated just with Easter.
Without a doubt, lamb is the star of the traditional Romanian Easter table. It is prepared in many different ways, from stew, to steak to the delicious lamb haggis. However, there is a sizable group of Romanians who don’t enjoy lamb. Pork is the most popular meat in Romania and often appears as an alternative.
Below we go over some of the most popular Romanian Easter foods. Check them out and maybe you’ll be inspired to try something new this year.
1. Lamb Haggis (Drob de Miel)
Lamb is the star ingredient during Easter in Romania, and it’s enjoyed in various ways: as soup, steak, stew, borscht, and last but not least, drob. This is a staple dish for Easter, and it’s made with lamb’s offal (lungs, heart, kidney, spleen, liver), green onions, herbs, eggs, and bread soaked in milk or water.
The offal is boiled and mixed with the rest of the ingredients, then stretched over the caul of the lamb. Dishes similar dishes to drob would be haggis or faggots.
2. Lamb Stew
Lamb stew is an incredibly delicious, warming comfort food traditionally enjoyed during the Easter holidays. It’s made with meat from the lamb’s leg, red peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes, and is seasoned with sweet red paprika and white or red wine.
It’s usually served with bread or polenta, or mămăligă, and pickled vegetables (murături). It’s an easy, healthy dish to make, and a veritable staple of Romanian Easter celebrations.
3. Lamb Steak with Veggies
Pan-seared lamb steak is another traditional staple on the Easter dinner table in Romania. It’s usually served with spring roasted veggies such as carrots, potatoes, green peas or beans, while the flavors are elevated with white wine and spices.
When the sliced, boneless lamb leg is cooked rare to medium-rare in a cast-iron skillet, it becomes tender, soft, and delicious, and it only takes a few minutes. Alternatively, you can roast a whole leg of lamb in the oven, along with all the veggies – whichever you prefer.
4. Easter Eggs
Easter is the time of year when all attention focuses on lamb and eggs. Traditionally, Romanians paint eggs red on the Thursday before Easter Sunday, to symbolize the blood of Christ. But in some parts of the country, such as Bucovina, decorating eggs is truly an art, and a painstakingly delicate process.
The decorated, hard-boiled eggs are laid out on the Easter table and cracked and eaten on Easter Sunday. They’re usually served with green onions, traditional Romanian cheeses like telemea or cascaval, cold meats, or lamb drob.
5. Deviled Eggs
For those who aren’t fans of hard-boiled red eggs, deviled eggs are an alternative for the holidays. There are various recipes for deviled eggs; our favorite includes mustard, mayonnaise, liver paté, vinegar, salt, pepper, and paprika sprinkled on top.
But deviled eggs can also feature additions such as bacon or olive paste – whatever you prefer. It’s a quick dish that the entire family can enjoy together, either as an appetizer or a snack, and from our experience, kids love it, too.
6. Boeuf Salad
Ahh, nothing screams traditional Romanian dinner like a nice bowl of deliciously refreshing boeuf salad. This staple of Romanian cuisine is enjoyed both during Easter and Christmas, and it’s a dish that you simply can’t stop eating once you start.
It’s like an elevated potato salad, featuring peas, pickles, potatoes, carrots, meat such as chicken, turkey or beef, and lots and lots of mayonnaise. Just spread it on a slice of bread and you’re good to go. It works great as an appetizer, a snack between meals, or a meal on its own, enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Probably one of the most popular and notorious traditional Romanian foods, sarmale, or cabbage rolls, is a dish that’s enjoyed year-round, but all the more so on Easter and Christmas. It consists of sour cabbage rolls filled with ground pork, rice, onions, parsley and dill, and seasoned with salt and pepper.
There is also a popular vegetarian option featuring mushrooms instead of meat, which is equally delicious. To get the full experience, serve them with a good spoonful of sour cream.
Cozonac is never missing from the dinner table during Romanian holidays. It’s a popular comfort food consisting of a deliciously sweet sponge cake filled with walnuts and cocoa, poppy seeds, or turkish delight.
The variations are truly endless, so you can come up with a filling that the whole family can enjoy. It’s a welcome respite after a heavy meal of eggs and lamb, and pairs wonderfully with a nice glass of milk, some coffee, tea or hot cocoa.
9. Pască or Paska
Another staple of Romanian cuisine during Easter, pască is the dessert of choice across the country, but more predominantly in Moldavia.
This delicious cake is usually made with cream, sweet cheese, and raisins, but it can also feature chocolate or cocoa, depending on preference. It’s baked in the oven until the round cake becomes fluffy and moist, and it’s usually decorated with a cross across the top or a similar religious Easter motif.
10. Lamb Aspic
Ready for some more lamb? Here’s another way to enjoy it during the Easter holidays. Combine the ground lamb with tomato purée, celery, salt, curry powder, and garlic powder (or other ingredients that you like), then bake it and cover it with a thin layer of gelatin.
Chill the dish in the refrigerator, and keep adding layers of gelatin until the lamb loaf is covered to your liking. You can then top the loaf with veggies such as radishes, and chill everything to perfection.
11. Easter Bunny Bread
Another delicious dessert that’s always part of the Romanian Easter tradition is sweet bread shaped, of course, like a bunny. Some people just cook a big, bunny-shaped loaf of bread, while others prefer to make little bunny cakes to serve as a post-dinner snack or with coffee or tea.
The bread can be kept simple, or can be filled with raisins and almonds, while little chocolate chips can be used for the bunny’s eyes and mouth.
12. Snow White Cake
If you want to diversify the range of Easter desserts this year, why not use our recipe for Romanian lemon cake, otherwise known as Snow White cake? It’s a staple Eastern European dessert, traditionally enjoyed during the holidays and for special events, such as weddings and birthdays.
The name comes from the snowy, fluffy appearance of the rich cream, and the good news is that this cake is quite easy to make. It features a simple dough and a filling made with butter, milk, sugar, and vanilla, with a good amount of lemon, both peeled and juiced. The result is incredibly refreshing!
13. Lamb Borscht
You certainly don’t want to waste any lamb during Easter, so why not use it to make a delicious and warming lamb borscht, Romanian style?
It’s a popular Romanian soup enjoyed during the holidays, featuring the spine, ribs, and offal of the lamb, sometimes with rice and added vegetables such as onions, carrots, peppers, parsnips, celery roots, and spring garlic.
The borscht is usually enriched with a mix of eggs and sour cream, and sprinkled with parsley or lovage.
Here’s yet another delicious dessert to feature on your Easter cooking list this year, inspired by Saxon traditions of old – Romanians of Transylvanian Saxon descent still love this recipe today. It’s called Henklesh, hencleș, or lichiu, depending on where you’re from.
It’s a simple dessert recipe featuring a bread base, topped with a creamy mixture and baked in a wood-fired oven. The recipe has evolved over the decades, and now you can find lichiu filled with rhubarb, cream cheese and vanilla, or nuts and raisins.
15. Chicken Noodle Soup
No matter what else is on the lunch or dinner table during the Romanian holidays, there’s another dish that’s always a must-have, and that’s the traditional chicken noodle soup. Not everyone is into lamb, or drob, or pastry desserts; some people just want something warm and comforting, something that reminds them of home.
And what’s more comforting than a steaming hot bowl of delicious chicken soup with homemade, Romanian-style thin noodles? It’s a basic staple served during the holidays, and part of the chicken from the soup is used to make boeuf salad. The soup is simple, featuring chicken and various veggies, such as carrots, onions, bell peppers, celery root, parsnip, turnip, and fresh parsley.
Related: 27 Famous Romanian Desserts