Moldova is a country located in Eastern Europe, bordering Romania and Ukraine. A large percentage of the Moldovan population can be traced back to Romania, so traditional Moldovan culture has been heavily influenced by Romanian culture and history.
Most Popular Moldovan Dishes
Moldovan cuisine has been largely influenced by its surrounding countries in Eastern Europe, particularly Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Poland. Some dishes have also been inspired by Greek or Turkish cuisine, which is evident by the flavor combinations used.
Most Moldovan dishes consist of lots of meat, potatoes and vegetables which are all produced locally across the country. Sour cream also features heavily in Moldovan cuisine; it is a popular addition to many traditional dishes.
Moldova is famous for its wine; many families make their own wine at home to accompany their meals. There is even a wine festival every year to celebrate the importance of the drink in Moldova.
Mămăligă cu Brânză și Smântână (Polenta with Brined Cheese and Sour Cream)
This dish is very similar to Romanian polenta, Mămăligă cu Brânză și Smântână is a porridge dish made from yellow maize flour and milk, served with sour cream, or brined cheese. This dish may also be served with meats and vegetables too.
In Moldova, recipes for Mămăligă cu Brânză și Smântână will vary slightly depending on who you ask as each family tends to have their own traditional recipe.
Colțunași cu Brânză (Cheese Dumplings)
Colțunași cu Brânză are cheese dumplings made of wheat flour dough, filled with various cheeses and boiled in salt water to cook. The name literally translates to ‘hard-working dumplings’ due to the effort that is put into making them!
Colțunași cu Brânză are usually served with sour cream. Instead of cheese, similar dumplings can also be found in Moldova filled with mashed potato, meats, or even sweet fillings like cherries or jam.
Zeama (Chicken Noodle Soup)
Zeama is a chicken noodle soup, usually made with chicken, homemade noodles, and a combination of vegetables, such as onions, peppers and carrots. The broth is flavored with borș acru de casa which is made from fermented wheat, giving the soup its distinctive sour flavor.
Zeama is eaten throughout the year in Moldova, but it’s especially enjoyed in the cold Winters. It’s often served with sour cream and bread to make it a hearty comfort food.
Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls)
Sarmale are cabbage rolls stuffed with spiced meats, served at parties and special occasions. They are usually stuffed with rice, minced pork or chicken, caramelized onions and other vegetables such as carrots. In Moldova, cabbage leaves are traditionally used to roll the fillings, but grape leaves may also be used too.
Sarmale are commonly served with sour cream to dip the rolls in. They are also a very popular dish in neighboring countries Romania and Ukraine.
Plăcinte are Moldovan pies, they can be made with a wide variety of fillings, including potato, cabbage or cottage cheese. Sweet fillings, including pumpkin, cherry or apple, are also popular Moldovan desserts.
The recipe for plăcinte varies in Moldova depending on the region you visit, with the recipes traditionally being passed down over generations.
Chiftele cu Piure (Meatballs with mashed potato)
This dish is formed of pork meatballs mixed with spices which are cooked in a tomato-based sauce and served with mashed potatoes. Chiftele cu Piure is a comfort food in Moldova, often served with salad or vegetables on the side.
Meatballs are popular in a number of Balkan cuisines; they can also be made of minced chicken or beef, instead of pork.
Salată de Boeuf (Beef Salad)
Salată de Boeuf is a beef salad served as a side dish on special occasions such as Christmas or Easter. Traditionally, this salad is made of finely chopped beef and vegetables, mixed with homemade mayonnaise and murături, pickled vegetables.
Salată de Boeuf can be served as a side dish or as a meal by itself. It may also contain turkey or chicken, instead of beef if these meats are preferred.
Ardei Umpluți (Stuffed Bell Peppers)
Ardei Umpluți are stuffed bell peppers, commonly served with sour cream. This dish has similar ingredients to sarmale as the bell peppers are also filled with rice, meat and vegetables. The sweetness of the bell peppers compliments the flavor of the meat filling.
Cușma lui Guguță (Crepe Cake)
This dessert is formed by rolling crepes into long tubes and stacking them into a pyramid shape, layering them with whipped cream and sour cherries, before sprinkling chocolate flakes on top. The sourness of the cherries in Cușma lui Guguță balances out the sweetness of the crepes and cream.
Served at Christmas time in Moldova, the name of this dessert translates to ‘Gugutsa’s hat’. This is inspired by a famous Moldovan folktale, where the character Gugutsa wears a hat of a similar shape.
Cozonac (Sweet Bread)
Cozonac is a sweet bread, traditionally served in Moldova and Romania on major holidays, including Easter and Christmas. This sweet dough is baked with swirls of cocoa, poppy seeds and/or nuts throughout to give it an easily recognisable appearance.
There are a wide range of variations to the cozonac recipe; the dough can be flavored with lemon or orange zest, vanilla or chocolate. Raisins, hazelnuts or walnuts may also be added in some recipes.
Prune Umplute cu Nuci (Prunes filled with Nuts)
This sweet dish is a light dessert made of prunes filled with nuts. This is prepared by soaking prunes in sweet cognac syrup or red wine and filling them with walnuts. Prune Umplute cu Nuc is often served with whipped cream.
Prune Umplute cu Nuci is often served as dessert after a large meal or feast as it is somewhat healthy and not too sweet!
Cornulețe (Pastries with Turkish Delight)
Cornulețe is popular in both Moldova and Romania. These sweet pastries are filled with Turkish delight along with other flavors, such as lemon, marmalade, cinnamon or nuts.
Cornulețe is usually served at special occasions, holidays and parties.
Börek (also known as Burek, Byrek or Boureki) covers a range of pastry dishes made by layering thin phyllo dough, with fillings such as cheese, minced meat, spinach and seasonings, along with a creamy egg yogurt mixture which is baked into a crispy and flaky pie-like dish.