Papanasi – a special recipe of small cottage cheese dumplings

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Europe Famous dishes North America Romania

papanasi_anaadiWhen coming to Romania you definitely have to try a special desert called “papanasi”. You’ll find it in almost any restaurant that serves Romanian dishes and, with a bit of luck, in most of the other restaurants around the country too. I am sure you’ll love it and I base my presumption on the big numbers of people I know that fell in love with them.

In fact, a year ago some friends from France of a common friend came to Romania in a short visit. Their first Romanian experience was sweet and unforgettable as their first taste was “papanasi” – this delicious cottage cheese dumplings. Needless to say, they loved papanasi so much that it convincing them to try a new desert had become a challenge. This post goes to them and to all the papanasi lovers around the world. Yes, this is IT, the recipe of the famed sweets.


  • 400g sweet cottage cheese
  • 4 spoons semolina
  • 200-300g flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 1 vanilla sugar (optional depending on different tastes)
  • cooking oil
  • cream and jam for serving


  • mix together the cottage cheese, semolina, 2 tablespoons of flour, the sugar and eggs  (and the vanilla sugar as well, if you like the flavor);
  • then lay down a thin layer of flour on which you will put the crude “papanasi”;
  • make small balls out of the mix and cover them in flour on the outside in order to prevent them from being sticky; put a hole in their center so the end they should look like a torus (like a donut, if you like). Also make some smaller balls – these are to be placed on top of the donuts, in the end. These balls should be a bit bigger than the hole in the donuts.
  • heat the oil, then fry the papanasi dough mix balls and the donuts you made. The oil should cover the content of the papanasi. You will see that the balls and “donuts” will rise – and when they do it’s sign they are done. Make sure to cook them on both sides.
  • After baking every ball and donut, put them on plates – each donut with a ball on top. Pour some cream on top and add jam on each “group”. Voila! Ready to be served! As jam, you can choose wild cherry jam, wooden fruits jam etc. – according to taste.

Preparing “papanasi” should not take more than 30 minutes, mixing and baking included. It is an easy to cook desert – but pretty tasteful.

Some avoid using semolina and use only flour. Others choose to grind the skin on a half of an orange and add it into the mix, for a special flavor. I prefer the simple recipe – and my papanasi always taste differently depending on the jam I choose.

Did you ever eat “papanasi”? How did you find them?

*photo credits go to Ana Adi – check her other photos on Flickr.



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