cuisine-hungary

Cuisine of Hungary

Hungary holds a reputation of its people being avid meat eaters and is due to traditional diet high in animal fat, cholesterol, sugar, salt and generally low in fibre, vegetables and fruits one of Europe’s unhealthiest countries. There is, however, a turning point in progress because lifestyles and eating habits of younger generation largely differ from older who came of age during Communism. A stark difference is visible also in diets of those living in big cities, especially Budapest, and those in the countryside .

Land allows agriculture to be an important factor in Hungarian economy, the most important products being wheat, corn, sunflower oil, potatoes, sugar beets, meat and dairy. As said the diet is extremely meat-centric and often accompanied by potatoes, though vegetables could be grown in abundance because of fertile soil. Among vegetables some of most frequently eaten are root vegetables, such as carrots, celeriac, rutabaga, parsley root, etc.) used particularly for soups; squash, courgettes, bell peppers and tomatoes. “For many home cooks, particularly older ones, canning fruits and vegetables is still and important part of their cooking routine. ” Milk products are very important in Hungarian cuisine and sour cream is having a major role as a common addition to soups and salads, stews and as a garnish. Sweet paprika is the most important spice by far and is used in abundance in many of the well know Hungarian dishes, such as paprikás a stew like dish with mead and vegetables. Caraway seeds, nutmeg and cinnamon also frequent many dishes as do flat-leaf parsley, dill and marjoram from the herb family. Beside sour cream roux is often used to thicken stews and vinegar is many times added to soups at the table .

Stuffed peppers in tomato sauce with parsley potatoes

  • 8 large yellow bell peppers (2 per person)
  • 200g long grain rice (jasmine or basmati works best)
  • 250g texturized vegetable protein (soy granules) soaked in hot vegetable stock or water drained or 400g minced seitan or 400g cooked brown lentils drained
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil (sunflower or canola)
  • 1 tsp asafoetida or 1 small onion minced
  • 1 large carrot finely shredded
  • 5 cm celery stalk finely chopped
  • 1 table spoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 table spoon sweet paprika powder
  • 1 table spoon vegetable oil (sunflower or canola)
  • Handful of fresh parsley leaves chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the sauce

  • 1 table spoon vegetable oil (sunflower or canola)
  • 1 heaped table spoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp asafoetida or 1 garlic clove sliced
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 700g tomato paste (passata)
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • For the potatoes:
  • 8 medium sized potatoes peeled and diced into 2 cm cubes
  • Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 2 table spoon sunflower or olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 table spoons of sour cream or vegan alternative for garnish

First clean bell peppers and remove the stem and the seeds leaving the bell pepper whole. For the filling first cook the rice in salted water almost completely but it should still have some bite (al dente). Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt until translucent or asafoetida for just a few seconds. Add finely shredded carrot and chopped celery and continue cooking on medium heat for five more minutes. Season, add paprika powder and texturized vegetable protein or seitan or lentils and cook on a slow flame covered for another 5 minutes so that the flavours get combined. At the end mix in the rice, fresh chopped parsley and adjust the seasoning. Let the mixture cool to room temperature then mix in a tbsp of flour. Set aside. Meanwhile prepare the sauce and bell peppers. For the sauce first heat up oil in a pot, which should be big enough to hold all the stuffed peppers. Add flour and make a blond roux. Follow with garlic or asafoetida, sweet paprika powder, bay leaf and tomato paste. Heat up to a simmer, season and adjust consistency by adding water. The sauce should be on a thinner side. Cook for at least 15 minutes, then remove bay leaf. Stuff the bell peppers with the filling and place them in the sauce. Cook covered on a very slow flame for at least 45 minutes to an hour. While the peppers are cooking prepare the potatoes by boiling them in salted water until fork tender. Drain and season with freshly ground black pepper, fresh chopped parsley and oil. When the bell peppers are done serve them with the potatoes and garnish with a dollop of sour cream or vegan alternative if desired.

Langos

  • 300g all-purpose flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast or 10g fresh yeast
  • 200 ml lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 l sunflower oil for frying
  • Toppings: garlic, cheese, sour cream or soy yoghurt

First dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Wait until it gets foamy then add the sifted flour and salt. Make into a dough and knead for a few minutes until it becomes smooth. If the dough is really sticky add a little more flour. Let it rest covered in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. When risen form the dough into a log and cut into same size portions. Make balls and stretch them with your hands. Let the dough rest for additional 30 minutes on a floured surface. Heat the oil in a saucepan on medium heat and fry langos on each side until golden brown. While still hot smear with garlic or add the topping of your choice. Serve as soon as possible.

Lesco

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onion sliced or 4 tsp asafoetida
  • 800g red and yellow bell pepper cut into strips
  • 4 large very ripe tomatoes chopped or 1 of tomato chunks
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp of parsley chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh bread or langos

Sauté the onions on high heat until translucent or asafoetida for a few seconds. Add the peppers and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes or until golden and soft. Add paprika followed by chopped fresh or canned tomatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Finish with sugar, salt and pepper and parsley if desired. Serve as a main dish with bread or as a topping for langos.

Silvaz gomboc – plum dumplings

  • 5 medium sized potatoes
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 500g all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 18 fresh plums pitted
  • 125g butter or olive oil
  • 300g fine bread crumbs
  • Sugar and cinnamon for garnish (optional)
  • Salt

Cook the potatoes in skins in simmering salted water until fork tender. Drain, peel and puree using a potato ricer then let cool to room temperature. Add flour a pinch of turmeric and a tsp of salt. Kneed the potato dough for 5 to 10 minutes. Let it rest for 30 minutes and then roll it out with a rolling pin to a little less than a centimetre thick and cut out circles using a cookie cutter or a glass and a knife. Place a plum on each circle moisten the edge with a little water and carefully seal the dumpling so there are no cracks on the surface. Cook the dumplings in simmering water for approx. 30 minutes or until the plums inside are soft. Meanwhile heat up the fat in a frying pan and toast the breadcrumbs until golden brown. Garnish the cooked dumplings breadcrumbs and serve hot.

Tejberizs – rice pudding

  • 1 l milk or almond milk
  • 100 g short-grain rice
  • Pich of salt
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 80 g sugar or as desired
  • 1 tbsp conrstarch
  • 50 g butter or coconut oil

Bring the milk and rice to boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Open vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds with the back of the knife. Add vanilla seeds and the pod, salt and turmeric to the rice. Cook the rice on low heat for 15 minutes or until soft but not mushy. Add the sugar and corn starch dissolved in a few tablespoons of water. Bring to simmer and cook until slightly thickened. Take off the heat and whisk in the fat. Let it sit for 30 minutes covered. Can be served warm or chilled.