Goulash originated from the word gulyás, which means “herdsman.” It was these people who are said to have first cooked the dish 300 years back.
The dish can be described as a cross between a stew and a soup. It is sometimes eaten as a main dish since it is a hearty meal in itself.
The main ingredients of traditional goulash are beef, tomatoes, potatoes, pepper, and paprika powder. Through the years, different versions of this dish have come out – some substitute beef for chicken or lamb – but nothing beats the classic recipe.
Pasta or egg noodles can be added to goulash. It could also be served with bread. Hungarians usually serve this dish for lunch or dinner.
Chicken paprikash is a Hungarian staple. It is, basically, chicken in a rich creamy sauce made of lard and sour cream.
An essential ingredient to this traditional dish is the signature Hungarian spice, paprika. The sweet variety, not the spicy one, is used for chicken paprikash.
This dish is uncomplicated to cook. Simply sauté some onions in lard, add the chicken and paprika, then the tomato and green pepper. Pour in some water and simmer. Add the sour cream before serving.
Chicken paprikash is best served hot, and always, with nokedly – Hungarian egg noodles – or rice. On cold winter days, this dish is a favorite comfort food for most Hungarians because it leaves the belly warm and satisfied.
One of the Hungarians’ favorite desserts is the rétes, better known by the rest of the world as “strudels.” Hungary’s rétes is stuffed with fragrant mixtures of sour cream, apricot, poppy seeds, and sometimes even cabbage.
The most famous kind of rétes in Hungary is made with apple. Others are made with cheese, cherry, and walnuts.
Watching how rétes is made is just as interesting as eating one. A mass of dough is kneaded vigorously, then it is stretched out so thinly, a newspaper can be read through it.
The filling is then put on top of this very thin dough, which is then rolled up and baked.
Tokaji wines come from the region Tokaj-Hegyalja, located in the countries of Hungary and Slovakia. These wines are famous for their sweet taste, which is the result of using grapes affected by what the winemakers call “noble rot,” which makes good sweet wine (in contrast to “grey rot,” which ruins the harvest).
In 1703, the king of France, King Louis XIV, received this wine as a gift and, upon tasting it, called it “the wine of kings, the king of wines.
The King of Hungary Franz Josef also made it an annual practice to give Queen Victoria, on her birthday, a bottle of this wine for every month she had lived. On her last birthday – that is, her 81st,– this amounted to 972 bottles.
What’s all this fuss about going on around this wine? If you’ve never tasted Tokaji before, don’t leave Hungary until you have, and find out.
Hungarians are certified meat lovers, and sausages are one of their favorite dishes.
A famous sausage in Hungary is the Gyulai Kolbasz. This is a type of smoked sausage that is usually made with a lot of garlic and paprika and traditionally served with sour cream and horseradish sauce.
There are lots of ways to prepare sausages in Hungary: they could be smoked, baked, dried, boiled, and even “un-smoked,” which means to eat the sausage fresh, with mixtures of garlic, liver, and mushrooms.
Sausages are so popular in the country, sausage making contests have even become part of the country’s festive traditions.