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The Romani are an ethnic group of people originally from India. They were a nomadic culture who spread across Europe, and eventually to America. Romani people have a rich, colorful heritage of art, music, and cuisine. Over the centuries, these eclectic people have endured extreme prejudice and persecution throughout the world. In Nazi Germany, they were a targeted minority group who faced unspeakable genocide.
Because many Europeans and Americans did not understand the different ways these foreigners spoke, dressed, and traveled, they were often viewed with hostile suspicion. Since the Romani language is so fluid, and they have darker skin, some people opined that Romani were Egyptians. For short, many called them “gypsies”, a demoralizing term that is considered unacceptable today.
In 1971, Romani from around the world founded the International Romani Union. Their goal is to bring global recognition and awareness to their culture. The IRU works tirelessly to erase hurtful stereotypes and create more equality for the Romani people. Since 1990, April 8 has been designated as International Romani Day. It is a time when we can learn much about our Romani neighbors.
Generations of these fascinating people migrated and mingled with cultures from all over the world. Being nomadic influenced every aspect of their indigenous culture, including their cuisine. Romani people learned how to prepare simple meals on the go with ingredients that were available to them. The result is a cuisine that has become uniquely Romani.
Many original dishes and techniques of the Romani are inspired from India, their motherland. Romani cuisine is generous with Asian-style spice blends. Those who settled in the Balkans and Middle East region adopted some of their dishes and put a Romani spin on them. In modern times, Romani cooks are sharing their culinary treasures in what has been dubbed the “soul food of Europe”. This April 8, share some Romani culture and cuisine with your family. Discover the fascinating heritage of these proud people, and the dishes they developed over years of migration. Here are four easy Romani-inspired recipes for you to consider.
Goulash, an Eastern European stew, may be one of the earliest dishes created by humans. This Romani version features tender chunks of chicken, stewed with garlic, tomatoes, lemon, paprika, and other savory Mediterranean spices. You can adjust the spicy heat by the type and amount of chilis you add. Save time and make this hearty goulash in your slow cooker!
Chicken is a versatile meat that is found in many Romani main dishes. Here is a Romani recipe with a distinctive Hungarian influence. It features succulent chicken pieces stewed in a tasty gravy with sour cream, robust spices, and a hefty dash of paprika. Serve it as a stew or slather it over homemade mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
To the Romani people, bread is a staple of any meal. This traditional recipe uses two ingredients: flour and water. Mix them into a simple batter and fry them by the spoonful in hot butter or oil. If you want to amp the flavor, use buttermilk in the batter instead of water. This humble fried bread is just the thing for sopping up delicious meat juices or gravy.
If you have never had soup for dessert, this Romani-style recipe will be a sweet revelation. It starts with tender dumplings, made with flour and almond marzipan. Cook them in a steaming pot of milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and a kiss of saffron. Serve hot bowls of this flavorful soup for a unique dessert, or as a comforting breakfast treat.
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