Romani cuisine is the cuisine of the ethnic Romani people. There is no specific "Roma cuisine"; it varies and is culinarily influenced by the respective countries where they have often lived for centuries. Hence, it is influenced by European cuisine even though the Romani people originated from the Indian subcontinent. Their cookery incorporates Indian and South Asian influences, but is also very similar to Hungarian cuisine. The many cultures that the Roma contacted are reflected in their cooking, resulting in many different cuisines. Some of these cultures are Middle European, Germany, Great Britain, and Spain. The cuisine of Muslim Romani people is also influenced by Balkan cuisine and Turkish cuisine. Many Roma do not eat food prepared by a non-Roma.[1]


Romani dishes are usually made hot and spicy with the use of spices, such as paprika, garlic and bell peppers. Stews are common.[2] Potatoes are also a staple in their diet. Another traditional dish cooked by Romani people is sarma, salmaia or sodmay, which is made from cabbage stuffed with meat and rice.[3] Romani people consume dishes consisting of stuffed peppers, especially on holidays and special occasions. Romani people also cook pufe (made from fried flour), xaritsa (fried cornbread), bogacha (baked bread) and xaimoko (a meal consisting of rabbit meat). They serve their meals with kafa (coffee) and chao (tea) with sugar and milk or fruits such as strawberries, peach slices, apple slices, or lemon.[4][5] There are several spicy Romani soups. Fusui eski zumi is a Romani butter bean soup often made with ham. Pertia is a soup made with jellied pig’s feet and pig’s ears. Romani stews are usually made with green and red peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, and some meat. There are a variety of paprikach stews in Romani cuisine that are not made with paprika. One Romani chicken paprikash is called puyo. Meat is often whole pig or lamb roasted on a spit for Romani rituals. Large hams and lamb steaks bought wholesale and barbequed with a Romani hot sauce called chile mole are also eaten at Romani feasts. The fat crust of ham is the Roma's favourite part of the meat. The Roma have their own method of making coffee and tea. Romani coffee is often boiled with the groats and often dipped off the top with a spoon. At Romani feasts, sarmi, meats, hot sauces, celery sticks (often eaten by the Roma for virility), salads, pirogo, saviako, and a stew or two are usually served and eatened. Only at a pomana feast Romani people serve fruit put on the table.[6]

Some itinerant European Romani people cook hedgehog stew.[7] Game animals and birds such as rabbits, hares, quails and partridge are consumed by the Roma. Snails are also consumed.[8] Snail soup and pig stomach are Romani delicacies. Bread form an essential part of any meal. Romani food is cooked outdoors in cauldrons atop a wooden flame.[9] Romani cuisine is also, often of necessity, inexpensive and cheap to prepare and uses portable ingredients. Thus, beef and pork are rare inclusions, while chicken and lamb and goat or wild birds and game are the preferred proteins by the Roma. Potato, peppers, cabbage and rice are often the building blocks in Romani cuisine. Rabbit stew is made with rabbit meat, innards, bacon and onions.[10] The Roma consume roasted apples, almond cakes, clay-baked hedgehog and trout, snails in broth, and fig cakes as a snack. Baked hedgehog is flavored with garlic.[11] The hedgehog dish is called hotchi-witchi or niglo, in Romani. The hedgehog is wrapped in clay and placed on white-hot stones. When the roasting is done, the prickles attached to the clay are pulled off and the hedgehog dish is served wrapped in leaves.[12] Other Romani dishes are nettle soup, sour cherry borsch and borsch.[13]

The use of red pepper in some traditional Romani dishes is influenced by the Rajputs.[14]

Due to the lack of Romanipen and assimilation to Turkish culture and Islam as religion, Turkish Roma eat chicken and eggs and have their own special recipe for it which is well-known in Turkey[15]

Nomadic Roma collect young nettles in the spring.[16]

Cornmeal is a staple for the Kalderash.[17] Romani slaves were fed cornmeal during slavery in Romania.[18]

Coffee is a prized drink among Romani people. Wild fruit, berries, leafy plants and small animals formed the bulk of Romani people's diet.[19]


A traditional Romani dessert is pirogo, which is similar to Jewish kugel. The recipe consists of eggs, raisins, walnuts, pineapple, sugar, butter, egg noodles and cottage cheese.[20]

Szaloncukor is a Romani dessert that is fastidiously mixed flour and sugar and made the dough into shapes like sugar cookies, then they are baked, wrapped, and hunged on a tree by the Roma until January 6st for the feast of the Epiphany.

The Roma also have own version of wheat pudding for Christmas. After husking wheat, soaking the berries in water, warming them in an oven, and smashing the soft hulls with tools that were available, Romani cooks put the pudding through a sieve, then mixed the remaining gelatinous substance with milk, flour, and eggs, and then they sweetened it with honey, sugar, or molasses. The Roma also added dried fruits, cream, butter, and homemade rum or brandy to the pudding. Romani bakers place a token of good luck which is often a silver coin in a loaf of sweet Christmas bread or cake. Romani tradition has it that whoever gets the coin in their piece will have a good year. The dough for the cake is similar to the Balkan kozunak.

Romani people also have their own version of poppy seed moon cake.

Plum dumplings are sweet holiday fares that demonstrate the practicality of the Roma who were doing the cooking. Plum dumplings are made dough of mashed potatoes, eggs, butter, and salt, which are rolled out and cut into small circles. The Roma carefully place a plum, topped with cinnamon and sugar, on the dough just before they folded, sealed, and boiled the dumplings in salt water. When the plum dumplings were finished cooking, the Romani cooks rolled them in buttered breadcrumbs and sprinkled them with more cinnamon and sugar. The Roma also transformed potatoes, cherries, and dried bread into desserts and treats.[21]

Food beliefs

The Roma believe some foods are auspicious and give luck (baxt) like the Rajputs. American Roma believe red pepper, black pepper, salt, vinegar, garlic, onions and a sacrificed animal such a lamb to be lucky foods.[22]

Certain foods are traditionally considered marime (ritually unclean) and therefore are avoided. Horse, cat, and dog meat are forbidden. Frog meat and snake meat are considered unlucky by the Christian Roma and are associated with the Devil. Peacock meat is forbidden. The Christian Roma associate peacocks with the evil eye.[23] The Christian Roma tend to not eat at restaurants and avoid food prepared by non-Roma.[24] A Romani woman menstruating can’t cook or serve food to men.[25]


Although many Hungarian restaurants tend to feature Romani musicians, there is only one Romani restaurant in Hungary called Romani Platni (Roma Stove') which opened in Budapest in 2012.[26] In Maribor, Slovenia, there is a Romani restaurant called Romani Kafenava.[27]

List of Romani dishes

See also


  1. ^ The Gypsies of Eastern Europe. p. 137.
  2. ^ Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia: [4 Volumes].
  3. ^ Vishnevsky, Victor (30 September 2011). "Memories of a Gypsy". Salo Press. Retrieved 29 March 2023 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Sutherland, Anne (1 July 1986). "Gypsies: The Hidden Americans". Waveland Press. Retrieved 29 March 2023 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society. p. 56.
  6. ^ Gypsies: The Hidden Americans. p. 62.
  7. ^ Byghan, Yowann (2020). Sacred and Mythological Animals: A Worldwide Taxonomy. McFarland, Incorporated. p. 133. ISBN 9781476679501.
  8. ^ Hancock, Ian F. (2002). We are the Romani People. p. 81. ISBN 9781902806198.
  9. ^ "Taste of Romani (Gypsy) Cuisine". Goodreads. Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  10. ^ "Inside the Culinary Traditions of the Roma people". Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  11. ^ Mary Ellen Snodgrass (2012). World Food: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture and Social Influence from Hunter Gatherers to the Age of Globalization. ISBN 9781317451600.
  12. ^ Harry E. Wedeck (2015). Dictionary of Gypsy Life and Lore. ISBN 9781504022743.
  13. ^ The Gypsies in Poland: History and Customs. p. 60.
  14. ^ Ian Hancock. Danger! Educated Gypsy: Selected Essays.
  15. ^ "En Yeni Roman Yemekleri -". Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  16. ^ Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia [4 volumes]: [4 volumes].
  17. ^ The Story of Corn. p. 236.
  18. ^ Alex Drace-Francis. The Making of Mămăligă: Transimperial Recipes for a Romanian National Dish.
  19. ^ The Gypsies. p. 33.
  20. ^ Zanger, Mark (29 March 2001). "The American Ethnic Cookbook for Students". ABC-CLIO. Retrieved 29 March 2023 – via Google Books.
  21. ^ Sweet Treats Around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.
  22. ^ Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia - Volume 2. p. 175.
  23. ^ Yaron Matras (2015). The Romani Gypsies. p. 92.
  24. ^ Ethnic American Food Today: A Cultural Encyclopedia. p. 250.
  25. ^ Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia: [4 Volumes. p. 171.
  26. ^ "Ethnic and Minority Cultures as Tourist Attractions".
  27. ^ Sullivan, Meghan Collins (16 May 2014). "Introducing Roma Cuisine, The Little-Known 'Soul Food' Of Europe". NPR.
  28. ^ Hancock, Ian F. (2002). We are the Romani People. ISBN 9781902806198.
  29. ^ Gypsies: The Hidden Americans. p. 63.
  30. ^ Ethnic American Food Today: A Cultural Encyclopedia. p. 251.
  31. ^ "Çingene Yumurtası -". (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  32. ^ "ÇİNGENE TAVUĞU -". (in Turkish). Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  33. ^ "African Americans and the Gypsies: a cultural relationship formed through hardships". San Francisco Bay View. 27 September 2013.
  34. ^ "Joe Grey Soup (Traditional Gypsy Recipe) | Gypsy Magick and Lore". Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  35. ^ "Kent - Romany Roots - Try a traditional Gypsy recipe". BBC.
  36. ^ "Cigánytúró with bodag ("Gypsy" cheese with traditional Romani bread)".
  37. ^ "Vegyes Nyakleves (Roma Mixed Neck Soup)".
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o We are the Romani People. p. 86.

Further reading