Special feature: Hungarian Cuisine

Hungarian or Magyar cuisine is the cuisine characteristic of the nation of Hungary and its primary ethnic group, the Magyars. Hungarian cuisine can be described in many ways but the ones that usually come to mind are spicy, mouth-watering, rich, ethnic and creative. Authentic Hungarian dishes are quintessentially rich in flavor, aroma and texture and the cuisine is primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, cheeses and honey. Hungarian recipes are based on centuries-old traditions of spicing and preparation methods using special ingredients such as Hungarian paprika, lard, onion, garlic, sour cream, cottage cheese, walnuts, and poppy seeds.

Hungarian Goulash – Hungary is a soup-eating nation. A complete typical Hungarian three-course meal always starts with a soup, and perhaps the most famous and often cooked soup is the Gulyásleves commonly known as the Hungarian Goulash. Authentic gulyásleves is a beef dish cooked with onions, Hungarian paprika powder, tomatoes and some green pepper. Although it is a beef dish, often mixed meats are used (e.g. beef, pork and mutton/lamb). Potato and noodles (csipetke in Hungarian) are also added according to some recipes. If cooked authentically goulash has a nice and evenly thick consistency, almost like a sauce.

In Hungary gulyásleves is predominantly eaten as a main dish; noodle or pastry dishes, especially the ones with a cottage cheese base (túrós csúsza, túrógombóc, strudel) go down well after the heavy soup. Any self respecting Hungarian restaurant will have the goulash on their menu, typically a bowl of Hungarian goulash costs between 500-1000 HUF, depending on the place.

Hungarian stuffed cabbage

(Töltött káposzta)- Soup is usually followed by some kind of meat dish with potato, pasta or rice garnishing. Pickels or salad made from seasonal vegetables accompany meat dishes. An equally famous and popular dish, the Hungarian stuffed cabbage is a traditional delicious Hungarian dish that is often made for holidays like Christmas or Easter. Onions and pork are braised in lard and seasoned with paprika, and after all the flavor is soaked up; the stuffing is placed onto sauerkraut leaves and bundled into nice rolls. This dish is a crowd favorite so if you are ever in Budapest, be sure to try this local culinary delight.

The Hortobágyi palacsinta is a savory Hungarian pancake, filled with meat (usually veal). The meat is prepared as a stew; minced meat is fried with onions and spices like the pörkölt or the paprikás dish, using, veal, veal with mushrooms, chicken or Hungarian sausage. The pancakes are then filled with the minced meat, tucking in the ends, and are baked in the oven with a paprika and tejföl (sour cream) sauce, then topped with fresh parsley.

Dobos torte or Dobosh is a Hungarian five-layer sponge cake, layered with chocolate, butter cream and topped with thin caramel slices. The sides of the cake are sometimes coated with ground hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts or almonds.  It was simple but elegant and one of the secrets to the recipe was its use of fine butter cream. It simply made the cake taste so much better.

Kürtőskalács or kürtős kalács is a Hungarian pastry also known as chimney cake, stove cake, or Hungarian wedding cake. It is baked on a tapered cylindrical spit over an open fire. Originally from Transylvania, it is famous as Hungary’s oldest pastry. Kürtőskalács consists of a thin yeast pastry ribbon wound around a wooden, heavily sprinkled with sugar, thus becoming a shaped pastry which may taper very slightly towards the end. The pastry is baked on a hand-turned, tapered, wooden spit, rolled slowly on the wooden cylinder above an open fire. The dough is yeast-raised, flavored with sweet spices, the most common being cinnamon, topped with walnuts or almonds, and sugar. The sugar is caramelized on the kürtöskalács surface, creating a sweet, crisp crust. Kürtőskalács is commonly sold in bakeries and pastry shops, and today even street vendors are selling them on street corners, carnivals, and fairs.


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