The most characteristic Hungarian spice is the paprika. Paprika is a Hungarian word, and it means pepper. The famous red paprika of Kalocsa and Szeged is perhaps the most important element of Hungarian dishes, for example gulyás and fish soup. Paprika can be red and very hot, but good paprika doesn’t taste hot.
Actually, there are two kinds of peppers grown in Hungary. One for spice and the other one for eating fresh. The fresh, green or yellow vegetables besides the tomato are the other basic ingredients of lecsó. We can eatlecsó with fresh bread and many people eat it for lunch or dinner, typically in summer.
And now a few words about our national dishes. Traditionally Hungarian dishes contain pig fat and onions. Sour cream is another typical ingredient of our food. It comes from the top of sour milk, while sweet cream is from the top of fresh milk.
So let’s see some typical Hungarian dishes. Maybe you have tasted some of them in Hungary, so I really hope they won’t be too strange for you.
First of all about gulyás. It is a kind of rich soup. Outside Hungary most dishes which are prepared with paprika are called gulyás, but in Hungary it is different. It is prepared with paprika, onion, meat and potatoes with dough.
Pörkölt is more like a meat stew made from red meat. Beside pork or beef cubes, a lot of onion is used in this kind of dish. It is usually garnished with Hungarian noodles, galuska or tarhonya.
In paprikás white meat, mainly chicken is used and less onion and paprika. It is often eaten with sour cream. It is also called paprika chicken with noodles. Cold cucumber salad goes well with this food.
Hungarian fish soup or Hungarian fishermen’s soup is made with fish caught from a lake or a river, for example the Tisza, Danube or Lake Balaton. Usually fish like: catfish, pikeperch, carp and so on. Fish soup often appears in the Christmas menu. As for me, I really love this traditional Hungarian soup!
If the weather is fine, all these dishes can be made in a couldron. It is hung over an open-air fire and cooked until the food is ready to eat.
One of the most important winter celebrations on farms was the killing of pigs. On the pig killing day the whole family come together and help with the work. Some of the ground meat is mixed with red paprika and other spices. This is how homemade sausages are made. The most famous brands of traditional Hungarian sausages are Csabai and Gyulai. They are exported to many countries.
Pick salami is also an international product and it is a really famous Hungarian brand. The recipe of it is still a secret.
And now we would like to talk about another product that we are proud of. It’s the wine of Tokaj. It grows on the sides of inactive volcanoes. The climate is very favorable for growing these grapes. The production of the aszú of Tokaj needs a lot of hard work. The aszú wine of Tokaj is still recognized all over the world. The name of Tokaji aszú is a protected Hungarian brand now.
There is a funny Hungarian saying: pálinka in small amounts is a medicine, in large amounts it is a remedy. Our grandfathers liked to start the day with a small glass of good pálinka. It is often made from fruits like apricot, pear or cherry. Beside the Tokaj wine, pálinka is also a protected brand, which is called a Hungarikum.
Strudel is maybe the most popular dessert in Hungary. Sometimes it is salty and made with cabbage, but it is mostly sweet. It is not easy to make it because the dough must be very thin. Rétes is made with different fillings such as cheese, cherry, apple or poppy seed as you can see in the pictures.
Noodle is another popular dish, which can be eaten salty or sweet. It can be cooked with cottage cheese. In Hungarian this dish is called túrós csusza. Besides the cottage cheese and sour cream, we can add fried bacon on the top of this delicious dish.
Lángos, fánk (doughnut) and szilvásgombóc (sweet plum filled potato dumplings) are also very popular and important for us.
At Christmas time szaloncukor is also very popular in Hungary. It is a small jelly- or marzipan-filled chocolate candy. Traditionally it was used to decorate the Christmas tree.
Finally, here is the recipe of the typical Hungarian pancake, called palacsinta: you should put the eggs, milk, flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix them with a fork. Put some oil in a pan and fry the pancake until both sides are brown. Spread with sugar, jam or any other filling you like. Roll it up and enjoy!
Written by Dia and Niki.