Made in Hungary
Do you want to go on a culinary travel around the world with me? It will be an imaginary journey with lots of flavors and recipes. I decided to dig a little bit deeper into the traditional and not so traditional cuisine of the world, and once a month do a virtual visit in different countries. I was scrolling through some recipes the other day, and I was surprised how little I know about some vegetables, ingredients, and that gave me the idea to step a little out of my comfort zone, and explore. The first time I am still staying on the safe ground. I would like to show you a few of my home country’s meals. Let’s start the journey in Hungary. Ready?
What do you know about the Hungarian cuisine? I’m sure that you’ve heard of our addiction to paprika. This beautiful red spice gives the color and taste to many of our favorite meals. According to my Swiss husband, we wake up and go to bed with paprika. Well, I don’t disagree with him, we do like our world famous paprika. First of all, let’s make something clear. Although Goulash (Gulyás as we say it) is a typical Hungarian meal, we don’t eat it very often. It is a very hearty soup (and not stew), that is best cooked over open fire, and the spicier the better. Usually, if we have a get-together, that’s what we are cooking. It is best served with pogácsa a very popular yeast pastry. I could easily call pogácsa our national pastry. I’ve already posted a recipe made with goat cheese, but we have so many more variations baked with potato or even cracklings and all of them are so very delicious.
Stew (pörkölt) and Paprikash (paprikás) are very similar meals, you could easily mistake them with gulyás, but until gulyás is a soup, our stew is rather a very thick, spicy meal. We have many variations, made with chicken, pork, veal, wild boar, giblets, fish and many more. They have one thing in common, the paprika of course. Paprikash (paprikás) on the other hand has also a dollop of sour cream in the sauce. Here I have a confession to make. Although I originate from the Western part of Hungary, most specifically Győr, where the Fishermen’s soup is always on the menu, I can not stand it. I do love fish, but I never liked it in a stew, but I do like it as paprikás. Go figure.
We have a sweet tooth for sure. There are hundreds of sweet pastries, cakes and other delicacies in the shops. Mostly they are made from yeast doughs, and the filling is varying from jam, poppy seed, túró, fresh fruits, and creams. Rétes (strudel), made with phyllo dough is also very common, both sweet and savory. When I was a child, this is what I enjoyed the most to make with my grandmother. She kneads the phyllo dough herself, and it was amazing to watch how she stretched the dough to a see-through, thin layer. Bukta (yeast dough pastry filled with jam) is also one of my childhood favorites. It might sound strange, but in our family, we like to eat it with peas soup.
What nobody talks about is our unique meal called főzelék. I don’t even have a foreign word for it. I would say this is the most common food we cook at home. Főzelék is not a soup, rather a thick vegetable stew. We have a főzelék recipe for all the vegetables (from potatoes, winter squash, beans, to kale) and of course, it is spiced with paprika – what else. My favorite is definitely made from peas. I always, always, always ask for borsófőzelék (peas ’stew’) when I visit my grandmother. She still does it the best.
There is one product I miss the most, Túró. It is a ricotta-like dairy product, but a little dryer. My freezer is usually stuffed with túró. Every time I visit my family, I bring back a few kgs of túró with me. It is perfect in sweets like strudel or yeast doughs but even in savory meals like pogácsa. The easiest meal you can prepare with túró is túrós tészta. It is basically just noodle served with sour cream, túró and crispy bacon (some even sprinkle caster sugar on it). You guys, this is so simple and so delicious, words can’t even describe it.
I left out so many meals I am sure, but the basics I covered all I think, or at least my favorites. I thought long about which recipes to share with you, and I decided to show you how the borsófőzelék is made. This is something you don’t find a lot on the internet, and I am sure you’ll all like it. As for the second recipe I wanted to make lángos first, a sort of fried flatbread served with garlic, sour cream, and cheese, but then I went for the chimney cake. I see this Hungarian delicacy a lot on Instagram, served with ice cream and chocolate cream. Well, we don’t eat it like that. It is heavy and sweet enough, believe me, I don’t need any additional flavors. But rather try it yourself, I would be happy to hear your feedback. And now, I think I talked enough about food, it is time to cook something fine. So as we say in Hungary, Jó étvágyat!
PS: By the way, did you know that not only the famous sweet onion comes from Makó, Hungary but also Joseph Pulitzer was born there?