Discovering delicious vegan dishes around the world is one of my favorite things about travel. Sometimes they are accidentally vegan and sometimes they are veganized versions of a traditional dish. Regardless, it’s always a treat to experience a little bit of local flavor with my taste buds.
This dish is one that is accidentally vegan that I recently had the great fortune of tasting in Bucharest, Romania.
Vegan Delight Spotlight: Salata de Vinete, Romania
The fine people at the Interesting Times Bureau were kind enough invite Michael and me to a private dining experience when we were in Bucharest a few weeks ago. The Chef, Stefan Pop, created a full three course vegan dinner for me that was absolutely incredible. Stefan prepared an array of tasty starters using local Romanian ingredients. They were all fabulous but the one that stole the show was a traditional Romania dish called Salata de Vinete. It’s an eggplant emulsion that is similar to Baba Ghanouj but (and I never thought I would say this) better!
It’s prepared by roasting eggplant over an open flame, scooping out the flesh and crushing it with a special wooden knife called a Tocator de Vinete (crushing the fibers, rather than chopping them gives the dish its silky texture), adding lemon,mustard, parsley, and stirring into an emulsion. It’s finished with thinly sliced shalltos and served with toast or crusty freshly baked bread. The result is a silky smooth, creamy, tangy, and smoky flavored dish that is outright addictive. As far as dips go, I prefer it to hummus…I know that statement is blasphemous, but it’s true.
Now, every time I eat out in Romania it’s the first thing I look for on a restaurant’s menu. If you are fortunate enough to visit this fine country you HAVE to try it. Trust me, you’re gonna love it.
NOTE: While the Salata de Vinete I had in Bucharest was vegan, there are some versions that use mayonnaise so be sure to confirm with your waitress/waiter that the dish is vegan before you order it. Head over to our Top Tips for Vegan Travelers where you’ll find an app that can help you order vegan food in any language.