Hungarian Cuisine - top dishes from Hungary
There’s more to Hungarian cuisine than goulash, although this hearty beef dish is perhaps the country’s most famous speciality. Paprika is liberally used in cooking in Hungary, and this spice, with eight varieties ranging from sweet and very mild to blow-your-head-off hot, is a symbol of the country, which even has a paprika museum! The red peppers from which paprika derives are rich in vitamin C, and incidentally it was Hungarian scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi who discovered the vitamin and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1937 for his findings.
So, if you choose a holiday in Hungary, here’s what you’ll find on the menu, starting, of course, with goulash.
Made with chunks of beef, onions, tomatoes, peppers and paprika, an authentic Hungarian goulash is neither a soup nor a stew, but comes somewhere in between.
FRIED DOUGH (LÁNGOS)
This deep-fried flatbread is eaten fresh and warm, topped with sour cream and grated cheese. It was traditionally made from a piece of bread dough that was kept back on baking day to provide the family breakfast. Nowadays it’s a cheap and popular snack eaten at any time of the day.
FISHERMAN’S SOUP (HALÁSZLÉ)
This spicy soup, whose kick comes from generous amounts of hot paprika, is made using river fish such as carp from the Danube and Tisza Rivers. Traditionally, fishermen would prepare the soup in a small kettle over an open fire.
CHICKEN PAPRIKASH (PAPRIKÁS CSIRKE)
As the name would suggest, paprika has a starring role in this famous Hungarian chicken casserole, along with lashings of sour cream.
STUFFED CABBAGE (TÖLTÖTT KÁPOSZTA)
For this national dish, pickled cabbage leaves are stuffed with meat and rice, then seasoned with paprika and smothered in sour cream.
Slightly thicker than their French counterpart, these Hungarian pancakes can have sweet or savoury fillings. Try ground meat, fried onions, sour cream and paprika sauce, or for dessert, enjoy ground walnuts, raisins, rum and chocolate sauce.
CHESTNUT PUREE (GESZTENYEPÜRÉ)
Sweet chestnuts are pureed and mixed with sugar and rum to make this popular dessert. To serve, the mixture is passed through a potato ricer so it resembles spaghetti, then served with dollops of whipped cream.
CHIMNEY CAKE (KÜRTŐSKALÁCS)
This sweet, crunchy treat is made from yeast dough which is wound onto a thick wooden spit. It is coated in melted butter and sprinkled with sugar before it is roasted over a charcoal fire. More melted butter is painted on before the ‘chimney’ is rolled in finely chopped walnuts or powdered cinnamon.
SOUR CHERRY SOUP (MEGGYLEVES)
Sour cherries are plentiful in Hungary during the summer months, when this chilled soup is typically eaten. Traditionally served at the start of a meal and not as a dessert, the cherries are cooked with a little sugar, sour cream and a dash of cinnamon.
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