Banat, a region in south western Romania, has a distinct cuisine, as a former Austro-Hungarian province. It is somewhat similar to Transylvanian cuisine, but there are also Greek, Italian and Serbian influences, since it shares a border with the latter country. Banat cuisine has hearty, but rather fatty food. It uses mainly pork, beef and chicken, while the vegetables are fried in lard or oil, and flour used as a thickening agent for sauces.
One typical dish is chicken soup with homemade pasta. It is traditionally served at weekend family meals. Traditionally, the soup is made from chickens raised in the household, and the pasta is made from flour with egg. This kind of pasta, diamond or rectangular in shape, can also used in a dish that combines cottage cheese and sour cream, and ham. In Resita, a city in this region, even has a festival of homemade pasta right before Easter.
Banat culinary tradition includes pork cold cuts, sausages or fist sized stuffed cabbage. One other typical dish is a chicken stew called ‘paprikash’. It is easy to make, and it is especially savory when finished in the oven. You need chicken meat, a bit of butter, flour, one onion, paprika and salt. Brown the chicken along with the chopped onion in a large pot. Mix in a tablespoon of paprika, then flour. Pour in water to barely cover the meat. Place the pot in a preheated oven until the sauce reduces. At the end you can add ground pepper and salt to taste.
Banat is also famous for its sweets. Just like Transylvanians, the locals make the so-called ‘gombot’, a name used in Romanian, Hungarian and Serbian cuisine. They are made from plums covered in a thick ball of a mixture of flour dough and mashed potatoes. They are boiled, then doused in breadcrumbs toasted with sugar. The same dessert is very popular in both Hungary and Serbia.
(Translated by C. Cotoiu)