Moldova (Moldovan Recipes)
Moldova is rich in fertile soil and in hardworking and caring people.
Nature is very generous in Moldova, offering plentiful grapes, fruits,
vegetables, meat and milk products
and cereals, all of which have found their uses in our national food.
The fertile soil and the traditional agricultural methods make possible
the cultivation of a diverse range of ecologically pure raw materials.
Moldovan has had a great influence on the traditional food of the other nationalities that live on this territory. At the same time some elements have been incorporated from Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Gagauzian and Russian cuisine, as well as elements taken some centuries ago from Greek and Turkish food. The ingredients used in the traditional meals are: a variety of vegetables like tomatoes, green peppers, aubergines, white cabbage, beans, onions, garlic, etc. The vegetables are used for salads and sauces; they are baked, pickled, salted, and canned thus becoming a real food art. The maize and maize flour give a specific color to the traditional meals, like soups, biscuits, flakes, alcohol free drinks, etc. The most common is “mamaliga” – a maize porridge or polenta with a fine and delicious taste. "Mamaliga" is served together with diced meat, cheese, fried meat, cream, etc.
Meat cooked for the first and the second course has a special place in the Moldovan food. The most common are chicken soup, goulash, roast meat, grilled minced meat rolls, etc. A lot of meat courses are grilled over charcoal. But before the grilling procedure the meat is properly picked. There is not a holiday without cabbage rolls, meat jelly, noodles, etc. The traditional table is not complete without biscuits, pies, cake dipped in syrup and fruit.
In different parts of Moldova there are local cuisines. In the East the Ukrainians prefer borsch, in the south the Bulgarians can offer a delicious chicken sauce – mangea, and the Gagauzians may serve you şorpa – a spicy ram soup, and the Russians will offer you their traditional pelmeni – a kind of roll stuffed with meat. The Moldovan cuisine is served with a variety of traditional drinks: stewed fruits, juices, as well as alcoholic drinks like: wine, brandy, "tuica" – plum brandy, etc.
Wine growing in Moldova is a century-old tradition. The famous Moldovan wines are well known and appreciated at home and far beyond the country borders. The wines can be dry, sweet and strong, they have a varied bouquet of flavours and colours. For wine producing European vines are used such as: Sauvignon, Cabernet, Muscat, etc., as well as Moldovan varieties: Feteasca, Black Rara, Moldova, etc. Strong drinks such as plum brandy, are produced using traditional methods.
Moldavian Marinated Peppers (Ardei a la Moldova)
3 lb. capsicums, cored and seeded
1 lg. onion, thinly sliced
6 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 pinch sugar
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Black pepper, freshly ground
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place capsicums on a baking sheet and bake, turning halfway through, until soft (approximately 25 to 30 minutes). Remove from the oven and cover with a kitchen towel. After the capsicums have cooled, remove and discard the skins and place the capsicums with the onions in a large, deep dish. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar and sugar. Stir in the garlic. Pour over the peppers and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve in a colorful rustic bowl.
Moldovan Potato Cheese Soup (Moldavsky Sup Iz Syra I Kartophelya)
50 g/2 oz unsalted butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
1.25 ltrs/2 pt chicken stock
225 g/8 oz ewes cheese (Basque Ektori or similar) or Cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely snipped chives
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute gently for about 20-25 minutes, until they are tender and lightly colored. Stir in the potatoes, spices and parsley, then add the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Strain the soup into a bowl and puree the vegetables in a blender or food processor with a little of the stock until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan and add as much stock as necessary (about 1 litre/1 3/4 pt) to obtain a good consistency. Set the soup over low heat and stir in the cheese. Continue stirring until it has dissolved into the soup, but do not allow to boil. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve immediately in individual bowls, topped with the snipped chives.
Moldovan Chickpea Pudding
1 cup precooked chickpeas or garbanzo bean
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons plain yogurt or sour cream
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a food processor and whir until preferred texture is achieved, occasionally scraping down the sides.
Moldovan Tomato, Cucumber & Pepper Salad
4 medium tomato, diced
5 small cucumber, peeled & diced
2 italian bell pepper, cored,seeded & diced (pale green frying)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 ounces feta cheese, grated coarsely
1/4 cup olive oil
In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, peppers, onion& parsley. Whisk oil, 3 T. vinegar, salt& pepper. Add to salad& toss. Cover& refrigerate at least 1 hour. Just before serving, taste& correct seasonings as desired. Sprinkle with feta cheese (don't mix it in).
Moldavian Cornmeal Mush (Mamaliga)
3-1/2 cups water
Salt, to taste
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into bits
8 tbsp. (1 stick each) unsalted butter, melted, for serving
Combine the water and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of the cornmeal in a steady stream and whisk until the water returns to boiling. Gradually add the rest of the cornmeal, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook the mixture, covered, until thickened and cooked through, 10 minutes. Add in the butter, a piece at a time, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the mamaliga to a medium size oval bowl and flatten the surface with a wet spoon. Let stand for 5 minutes. Invert the mamaliga onto a plate and sprinkle with the melted butter.
1 lb corn meal
1 1/2 qts/1 1/2 L water
1 teaspoon salt
Set the water to boil. When the water is boiling, add the salt and a little of the corn meal. After a few minutes, when the water is boiling, add the rest of the corn meal. Mix it briefly and then let it boil at low temperature for about half an hour. Then, with a wooden spoon start mixing vigorously. If the polenta seems soft, add a little bit more corn meal. Mix continuously. To test if the polenta is done, hold the wooden spoon straight. Rotate it fast between your palms and then try to pull it out. If it comes out clean, the polenta is done. If not, let the polenta boil a little longer. Then you wet a wooden spoon in water and gather the polenta to the center. Let it boil a few more minutes and then shake the pot a few times and turn over the hot polenta on a wooden cutting board (not recommended to pour on a plate). Let it set for a few minutes and then cut it with a clean string.