We collected the main thing from goulash with kürtőskalács to thick fisherman’s soup and sweet pasta. They also signed the original names in Hungarian – otherwise there is a risk of not even recognizing goulash on the menu.
Most often, when talking about Hungarian cuisine, the only things that come to mind are goulash, cylindrical kalach and paprika. Thanks to the hot vegetable, local recipes are considered the spiciest and hottest among European ones. In honor of the autumn paprika harvest, an annual festival is held, where they present literally everything that can be made from red pepper, from the local vodka palinka to canned food and soups.
But local cuisine is much more extensive. It is worth remembering the nomadic past of the Hungarian people – shepherds migrated across the steppe with a rather harsh climate that dominated most of the year. From here comes a cookbook with rich stews, stews and rather fatty dishes, an abundance of meat and warming spices (especially, again, paprika).
In summer the air becomes hot, and light dishes like cherry soup with sour cream and improvisations on the theme of fruits and vegetables take on the main role. True, the concept of “salad” has not taken root in the traditional menu; it is replaced by pickles, marinades and sometimes just chopped zucchini.
In addition to the weather, gastronomic traditions were shaped by the influence of different cultures – Ottoman with stuffed vegetables, coffee and desserts, Transylvanian with a focus on herbs and spices, French with delicate cooking techniques that smooth out rough nomadic ones, and Slavic with a love of dairy products, dumplings (in Hungary there are their own versions) and even semolina.
Without first diving into the basics of Hungarian cooking, it’s not easy to understand, so we’re publishing a list of the main gastronomic heroes.
A classic that is interpreted differently in each region. The name comes from the Old Hungarian designation for shepherds – gulyás. Previously, dried meat and various root vegetables were added to the cauldron; now the basis of the recipe includes chopped beef, always hot paprika, potatoes, carrots and seasonal vegetables. Ideally, everything is cooked together for a very long time in a large cauldron over a live fire. It is unofficially believed that the best goulash is prepared in Budapest and Szeged.
The ancestor of goulash pörkölt
Despite the worldwide popularity of goulash, Hungarians often prefer this particular soup, or rather, something between a hot one and a rich stew. The base is szalonna pork fat, boneless meat and paprika. This is a simpler and more rustic version of goulash.
with fewer spices, but thicker and denser. Preparation takes less time and is less ceremonial. Both goulash and pörkölt are served with dumplings – these are something like lazy dumplings made from unsweetened egg dough. For these you can go to the Central Market of Budapest.
Fisherman’s soup halászlé
The most delicious is prepared in Szeged from carp, perch or catfish freshly caught in the Danube. Spicy thanks to paprika (this is the most “fiery” dish in Europe), warming, rich. The cauldron contains: various fish – from tail to head, vegetables, root vegetables, red pepper and a special blend of spices. The broth is cooked for at least two hours and, if we talk about traditions, over an open fire.
Vegetable version of goulash főzelek
And again – something between thick soup and roast. Moreover, the recipe tops the most popular national dishes from the category of healthy lifestyle. Inside are potatoes, peas, beans, lentils and főzelék carrots. Everything is cut into a broth thickened with flour with sour cream, simmered over low heat and served hot.
Chicken in Paprika sauce (Paprikash)
In general, you can call this sauce “Hungarian curry”. It also contains paprika, but less spicy, plus sweet ones are added to the hot ones, paired with tomatoes. Sour cream adds thickness.
The chicken itself simmers in a frying pan for a long time, after which everything is mixed with aromatic sauce. The side dish is usually served with Hungarian nokedli pasta, which resembles both pasta and dumplings.
Hungarian lecho also resembles Russian one. The recipe is free, and you can add absolutely any vegetables to it. The rest is a matter of taste and season. The dish is simmered over low heat, sometimes adding bacon or pork fat (it is generally a common ingredient in Hungarian cuisine). Lecho is often served with boiled eggs or simply as a side dish or spread.
The most popular street food and participant in every festival (of which there are a lot in Hungary). It is a round flatbread that is deep fried. By the way, lángos translates as “flame”. It used to be cooked over an open fire from a mixture of leftover stale bread and all the crumbs and crumbs left over from the bakery.
Now the recipe has completely changed. The dough itself is kneaded from flour, milk, eggs and yeast, then immersed in boiling oil. Served with all sorts of fillings – from meat to vegetable and cheese. For example, with zucchini and sour cream.
Pasta with cottage cheese and bacon túrós csusza
It reads “turoshchusa”. This is homemade chusa pasta (the thinly rolled dough for it resembles reduced “sheets” for lasagna or even pappardelle), cooked with cottage cheese and paprika-spicy lard. It sounds incomprehensible, but the taste makes you fall in love.