Romanian Papanasi Recipe with sour cream and jam, or fried no-yeast cheese doughnuts, a dessert that tastes like heaven, and we are so proud of it. It only takes a few basic ingredients to put it together, but be sure that everybody will fall in love with them.
What are papanasi?
Papanasi (read papanashi) are a traditional Romanian dessert made of cow’s cheese, eggs, bicarb of sofa and flour, and flavoured with lemon zest. They are similar to a fried donut that is topped with a donut ball, and served with lots of sour cream and jam.
You will find papanasi in any Romanian restaurant, and anywhere else where traditional Romanian food is served. As a nation, we love cheese, and cow’s cheese is my favourite. From appetizers, to mains or desserts, we like adding cheese in lots and lots of dishes.
Now, there are two types of papanasi, the fried ones, and boiled papanasi. Of course, the boiled ones are healthier, but you will agree with me that fried are tastier. Right?
How to make Romanian papanasi
If you can’t find cow’s cheese, feta cheese is a very good substitute.
- Crumble or grate the cheese
- Add the egg, bicarbonate of soda, lemon zest, sugar and flour, and mix to get a dough.
NOTE! At this stage the dough will be pretty sticky. Leave to rest for 15-20 minutes, and the dough will be soft, and very easy to work with.
- Transfer to the work surface and divide it into 4 balls. Use flour to dust if the dough is still sticky.
- Each ball will be divided into 2, one ball will be bigger. From the bigger ball, we will shape a round donut with a hole in the middle, where the second one will be the shape of a ball (see photo below).
- Heat up the oil, and deep fry until light brown.
- Repeat with the rest of the donuts.
- Once cooled, serve with plenty of sour cream and jam
Traditional Romanian meal
If you ever visit Romania, you’ll be welcomed with lots of delicious food and lots of plum brandy, which is our traditional drink. Red wine is another favourite of ours.
We absolutely love food, and every important holiday is a good excuse to cook a proper feast with lots of dishes, both sweet and savoury. So, how about we put together a proper Romanian meal?
We can start with some amazing appetizers like mayo eggplant canapes, or some chicken liver pate. We can’t possibly not taste the delicious “Ciorba Radauteana”, or chicken soup with sour cream and garlic.
As a main meal, our sarmale, or meat and rice rolls in cabbage (or grape leaves) have no rival. They find their way on the table more often than you think.
A good savoury snack are these amazing cheese crackers (saratele). And the list is endless.
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Romanian Papanasi with sour cream and jam, or fried no-yeast cheese doughnuts, a traditional dessert that tastes like heaven, and we are so proud of. It only takes a few basic ingredients to put it together, but be sure that everybody will fall in love with them. Best donuts ever, with little effort, but maximum flavours.
- 200 g cow's cheese (or feta cheese)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- zest of one lemon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups vegetable oil to fry
- sour cream
Grate or crumble the cheese and add it to a large bowl.
Mix in the egg, sugar, lemon zest and bicarbonate of soda.
Add the flour and knead until you get a dough that is still very slightly sticky. Shape it into a ball.
Let the dough to rest for about 15-20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 smaller balls.
Each ball will then be devided into 2, we will need about 3/4 of that dough for the main doughnut and 1/4 for the small ball that goes on top.
We will then have 4 doughnuts and 4 small balls in total.
To make the doughnut, just use your thumbprint to make a hole in the middle of the dough and give it a nice round shape.
Heat up a large pan and add the oil.
Add one doughnut and one ball and let them fry on each side for about 2 minutes until golden.
Remove with a spatula and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorbe any excess oil.
Repeat with the remaining doughnuts and balls.
Serve with sour cream and jam.
- To see the measurements in cups and ounces, please click on the US CUSTOMARY link.
- The amount of ingredients listed can be adjusted depending on the number of servings you need, just click on the number next to SERVINGS.