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Top 5 Traditional Recipes from Moldova

by World food team

Situated between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova is a charming nation with a rich agricultural heritage. Its culinary identity weaves together the tapestries of its neighbors and its own traditions. Moldovan cuisine is characterized by hearty, flavorful dishes that speak of the land’s fertility and the warmth of its people. Dive into the top five traditional recipes that stand as pillars of Moldova’s culinary legacy:

Mămăligă (Cornmeal Porridge):

This staple is akin to polenta and is frequently served as a side dish, complementing meaty mains or topped with cheese or sour cream.

How to prepare: Boil water and add salt. Gradually whisk in cornmeal, stirring continuously to avoid lumps. Cook until the mixture thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pot. Serve hot with cheese, sour cream, or alongside meat dishes.

Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls):

Borrowed from its neighbors yet uniquely Moldovan in its rendition, these are grape or cabbage leaves wrapped around a filling of minced meat and rice.

How to prepare: Prepare a mixture of minced pork, beef, rice, and sautéed onions. Soften cabbage or grape leaves by blanching. Place a spoonful of filling in each leaf, roll tightly, and arrange in a pot. Pour tomato sauce or broth over the rolls, and simmer until fully cooked.


A beloved pastry, Plăcintă can be sweet or savory, filled with anything from apples and cherries to cheese and potatoes.

How to prepare: Prepare a basic dough using flour, water, and a touch of oil. Roll it thinly and fill with your desired filling—perhaps sweetened cottage cheese or sautéed cabbage. Fold into rectangles or circles and fry until golden brown.

See also: Top 5 Non-Alcoholic Cocktails in Moldova

Zeama (Chicken Soup):

A comfort dish, Zeama is a clear chicken soup enhanced with noodles and flavored with lemon and garlic.

How to prepare: Cook chicken pieces in water with onions, carrots, and parsnip. Once the chicken is tender, add noodles. Serve with a sprinkle of chopped parsley, a squeeze of lemon, and crushed garlic for added zest.

Tocană (Meat Stew):

A hearty dish, Tocană showcases slow-cooked pork or beef, simmered in a robust sauce with tomatoes, garlic, and peppers.

How to prepare: Brown meat chunks in a pot. Add chopped onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Season with bay leaves, pepper, and garlic. Simmer until the meat is fall-apart tender.

Moldova’s culinary landscape is a delightful blend of East European influences and its own homegrown traditions. It showcases the nation’s agrarian roots and the importance of seasonality. From the staple Mămăligă to the comfort of Zeama, Moldovan dishes are a testament to the simplicity, flavor, and heartiness of the country’s gastronomic culture.

View also: Moldova’s Wine Majesty: Top 5 Bottles from Europe’s Best-Kept Secret

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