A region in western Romania, Banat has a distinct cuisine, strongly influenced
by the Austro-Hungarian one. The Banat cuisine is somehow close to the one in
Transylvania, yet it has southern influences as well, since Banat is
geographically close to Greece and Italy, also lying in the vicinity of Serbia.
The Banat cuisine stands out thanks to the amount of fat used in cooking
various dishes, which nonetheless are nourishing and tasty. Pork, beef and
chicken are used extensively, vegetables are sautéed in lard or oil. As for
sauces, flour is used so that they can be thicker. Spices are used, such as
pepper, thyme, paprika and caraway.
Characteristic for Banat is a dish known as 'zupa', that is chicken soup
prepared with home-made noodles. The dish is traditionally served at the
weekend, when the entire family gets together for dinner. According to
tradition, poultry is used, while the noodles are home-made, with flour and
eggs. The lozenge or rectangular-shaped noodles are used to cook other dishes
as well, such as the so-called 'iofca' with cheese and cream, or the pudding made
of iofca and ham. The Banat town of Resita, right before Easter, is even home
to a Noodles festival.
Since it is the time of the new potatoes, here is a recipe from Banat,
based on potatoes broiled with meatballs and dill sauce. Wash the fresh potatoes
very carefully. Do not peel them. If the case, rub the potatoes with some
coarse-grained salt. Separately, prepare the meatballs. For that, use half a
kilo of minced pork, two onions, a parsley bunch, a head of garlic and an egg.
Mix the finely-chopped onion, the eggs, the minced parsley leaves and the
crushed garlic into the minced meat, with a view to obtaining a thick paste.
Fry the potatoes in oil. Douse the meatballs in flour, and then fry them in the
same pot. Prepare the dill sauce, separately. For that, finely-chop a small
onion, sauté it in oil, then add a table spoonful of flour. Also, add the
finely-chopped dill. Quench everything in a bit of water. Allow everything to
boil until the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the fried potatoes. Serve with
a couple of meatballs.
The Banat cuisine is also renowned thanks to its sweets. Just like in
Transylvania, the plum dumplings are prepared, with flour and potatoes coating,
eventually doused in breadcrumbs. Traditionally, the plum dumplings are known
as gomboti, a word used in Hungary but also in Serbia. Also, a great number of
sweets are made of filo dough and leavened dough.