These fried meatballs (Romanian chiftele) are easy to make and are rapidly devoured by all family members.
Apparently a Turkish cuisine influence from our past, as well as sarmale or ciorba, these meatballs are made with any kind of meat and can be rounded, in oval shape (parjoale in Moldavian zone) or traditionally flattened as these ones.
They are delicious while warm, but still tasty later on. And leftovers can be reused and cooked in a delicious tomato sauce.
“Chiftele” is a regular staple recipe in Romanian cuisine and can be enjoyed as appetizers in a smaller, round shape (served at major holidays, anniversaries and special occasions).
Or, in their flattened form as a quick snack, taken to picnics or potlucks or anytime you need something to calm your hunger until dinner.
🥩 Ingredients For Romanian Meatballs (Chiftele)
There are few ingredients needed, but it’s important that the meat is of good quality. I used pork but you can use any type of meat you have and like. Complete measurements can be found in the recipe card from the bottom of this post.
For this fried meatballs recipe I used:
- Ground meat (90% lean pork) – but more fat give them more juice
- Bread – few slices of hardened bread
- Onions and garlic – I used green because in season, but you can use regular
- Fresh herbs – parsley and dill to increased taste and aroma
- Eggs – bind everything together
- Salt and pepper – for seasoning
- Flour – for coating meatballs
- Vegetable cooking oil – as needed to fry
🍳 How To Make These Pan Fried Meatballs
First, let the hardened bread to soak in water or milk.
We are going to form and fry these meatball in a pan ( or two 🙂 ) if you have more composition like me. I made a large batch because I am going to cook some of the leftovers in tomato sauce which is another staple recipe from my childhood: chiftele marinate.
You can use just 1/2 of the ingredients in the recipe card to make less meatballs.
1. Prepare the meat
In a large bawl place the ground meat, finely chopped onions, garlic and herbs. Add the eggs, salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze the water out of the beard slices and crumble it with your hands. Add the wet bread to your meat mixture.
Mix everything with your hands until the composition is well combined.
2. Form the meatballs
Sprinkle flour onto your working space and place near you a flour filled plate. Take about a spoonful of the meat mixture with your hand, dredge it through flour rolling it on all sides until well coated.
Then place it on the working space and give it the final form: flatten it with your hand and roll the edges between your palms as shown in the pictures below.
Place it on the floured surface and continue making chiftele until you finish the composition.
3. Pan fry
Place one (or two) large pans on medium high heat with enough oil to fry these meatballs. I used 2 pans at once to finish more rapidly because I had quite enough meatballs to fry (I used half of them to cook in tomato sauce here).
Once the oil has heated, carefully place these meatballs one by one in the pan.
Fry them for about 3-4 minutes on each side until beautiful browned. As they are done, take them out on a platter lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Continue frying in batches until all meatballs are cooked.
Tips & Tricks
- Using a combination of ground meat (especially beef) makes them tastier
- Sometimes we replace the bread with one or two finely grated raw potatoes
- Experience with different fresh aromatic herbs for enhanced flavor and taste (as basil, thyme, oregano)
- Let the mixture rest for about 1 hour covered in the fridge to better infuse all flavors into the meat before frying
🍴 Serving Fried Meatballs
We like to serve these meatballs immediately with (or between) slices of fresh bread and fresh tomatoes or some green salad.
They are absolutely delish when freshly cooked and still warm.
But also still delicious later on when cooled. After they are completely cooled, cover with cling film and keep in refrigerator for about 3 days.
They are perfect for a quick snack at home / to go and a great picnic food choice.
I hope you try the recipe and like them as much as I do. Enjoy!
Other ground meat recipes for you:
- Romanian Meatball Soup (ciorba de perisoare)
- Romanian Cabbage Rolls (traditional sarmale)
- Romanian Stuffed Peppers (ardei umpluti – a must try delish)
Fried Meatballs (Romanian Chiftele)
- 4.2 lbs (1.9kg) ground pork
- 1¼ cup chopped green onions (or 3 medium onions)
- ¾ cup chopped green garlic (or 8 garlic cloves)
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- 3 eggs
- 4-5 slices hardened bread (soaked & squeezed)
- 2 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1½ tsp ground black pepper (to taste)
- 2 cups flour (to coat)
- vegetable oil to fry (as needed)
- Soak the hardened bread into water for about 5 minutes. Meantime, finely chop the green onions, green garlic and the fresh herbs. Add them to the ground meat and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the water out of the bread, crumble it and add it to the meat. Add the eggs too. Mix everything well with your hands.
- Start forming meatballs (chiftele). Take about a spoonful of the meat composition and dredge it through flour until is well coated on all sides. Flatten it on the floured working space and even the edges rotating it between the palms of your hands. Continue until you finish formatting all the meat composition.
- Place one or two large frying pans on medium-high heat with a generous quantity of oil to fry. Heat the oil and place them one by one with enough space between them to cook evenly. Fry the meatballs 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Take them out to a large platter lined with paper towel. Continue to fry in batches until all meatballs are cooked. Serve immediately with bread slices and fresh vegetables as tomatoes or bell peppers, or a green salad of choice. Refrigerate covered with cling film for about 3 days. Use leftovers to cook in a delicious tomato sauce (chiftele marinate).