I had to go to Romania with work the last week. When I think of Eastern European cuisine I (used to) think of rich meaty stews and hunks of flesh served with cabbage. However, I was pleased to learn that wasn’t necessarily the case in Bucharest.
A fact I didn’t know – around 87% of the Romanian population are Orthodox Christians. What is the relevance of this? There are times of the year where Orthodox Christians undergo a strict fasting period which basically means they follow a vegan diet! (More information here). So although I found that most restaurants didn’t understand the term “vegan”, they knew exactly what I meant if I mentioned fasting! And in some cases there was even an extra menu dedicated to this.
Not everyone in Romania is oblivious to veganism however. Whilst I was there I visited one vegetarian restaurant called Barca which had a very extensive menu, entirely vegan apart from the occasional guest-appearance from honey. I had falafel with a chopped parsley salad and it was very tasty and light. The restaurant itself was also very clean and fresh-faced. I wish more UK vegan joints were like this!
I also ordered takeout from a place called Biofresh. I had a salad consisting of courgette, tofu, dill, wheat germ and garlic with a dressing made from tofu, basil, pine nuts, olive oil and spices. It sounds like such a simple meal but it was so delicious I was inspired to make my own variation when I got home (recipe below!). It was just a shame that nearly all of the desserts from these places contained honey (miere).
A non-veggie place I visited was a restaurant called “Caru’ cu Bere” (or “The Beer Wagon” in English). This place is one of the oldest beer houses in Bucharest and although it was a bit of a carnivore’s paradise, it was amazing! There were traditional dancers performing at regular intervals and it was heaving with people, even on a Wednesday night. I shared a loaf of bread with an aubergine dip and a traditional dip made from a variety of vegetables for starter, followed by a traditional vegetable stew with polenta for my main course. Both were hearty and delicious! I didn’t really have room for a pudding but then I got passed the “fasting menu” and discovered that they had egg and dairy free pancakes!!! Nom!
Courgette, carrot and dill salad
|2 x courgettes
2 x carrots
1 x bunch of dill
Juice 1 x lemon
This recipe is super easy if you have a food processor with a grating function. If not, you’re going to need strong arm muscles and a cheese grater as you need to grate all of the carrot and courgette before putting into a large bowl.
Next, chop up the dill and mix into the courgette and carrot.
Pour the freshly squeezed lemon juice over the veg whilst stirring. You can add black pepper to taste.
Creamy pesto dressing
|1 x block firm silken tofu (I used Mori-nu 394g pack)
1 x jar (185g) vegan friendly pesto (or you can make your own if you have time!)
½ x tsp salt
½ x tsp black pepper
1 x tsp garlic powder
½ x cup soya milk (or any dairy replacement).
2 x tbsp. nutritional yeast
Put the tofu, pesto, salt, pepper, garlic powder and milk into a blender. Blend until smooth.
The sauce will taste a bit “beany “so next step is to transfer into a small saucepan and heat whilst stirring (a silicon spatula is perfect for this).
Once the dressing begins to bubble*, take off the heat and add the nutritional yeast. You will have to stir fairly vigorously to make sure its mixed in well with no lumps.
*Please take care because the sauce has a tendency to spit!
Allow to cool and serve over your salad.
I combined my salad and dressing with some roasted baby hasselback potatoes and some chili and coriander beans. Satisfying, healthy, cruelty free and importantly, delicious!
Ps, should my Romanian hosts happen to stumble across this post, I would like to thank them wholeheartedly for looking after me so well and going to such lengths to ensure that I was happy and well fed! ♥Tweet