Hungarian Cuisine
Traditional Recipes for Homemade Hungarian Food

If you ever wondered what Hungarian cuisine is all about or what  Hungarian food is like and how to prepare homemade Hungarian recipes for yourself, your family and special guests, then you are at the right place.

It is my sincere wish to provide you with the best collection of authentic Hungarian recipes.


Most Famous Hungarian recipes:

chicken paprikash recipe
Hungarian Goulash
Hungarian Cabbage Rolls
Stuffed Peppers
Veal Stew Recipe
Beef Stew Recipe
Beef and Rice Recipe
Cheesy Potato Casserole
Vegetable Stew with Wieners

The above are but a few of the best homemade recipes Hungarian cuisine has to offer.

If you are interested in:

  1. How to make the best goulash, cabbage rolls, stuffed peppers and chicken paprikash;
  2. vegetarian recipes;
  3. low carb and low fat version of Hungarian foods;
  4. crowd pleasing dinners to celebrate the holidays;
  5. unforgettable desserts;
  6. simple food preparation techniques that will help you to create   meals using any of these recipes, and;
  7. entertaining articles on the gastronomic history of Hungarian food.

then please explore the links on the left side of your screen.


The Essence of Hungarian Cuisine

There is a distinct uniqueness of Hungarian Cuisine.  It is never boring, always colourful and incredibly varied.  And just like any other cuisine, it is always evolving.

Hungary has been blessed with its location from a culinary point of view.  There are no shortages of rivers teeming with fish, forest with abundant wild life, hills perfect for grapes and fruit trees or sun blessed agricultural basins where vegetables and grain are plentiful.  Therefore it is not a surprise that the essence of Hungarian cuisine is the use of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, domestic and wild animals, and a rich array of dairy product, fresh bread and honey.


Basic Characteristics of Traditional Hungarian Cuisine

According to experts, the basic characteristics of Hungarian cuisine are:

  • The use of lard, red onions and paprika as a base to many goulash or stew based dishes
  • The frequent use of pork, pork products and lard for cooking
  • The addition of sour cream to many recipes
  • The employment of special cooking techniques such as the preparation of a stew base (similar to the dry and moist heat braising method of meats) the searing of meat and the allowing of the meat to cook in its own juices, and the use of roux to thicken sauces and soups.
  • The favouring of foods high in carbohydrates

 Source: http://www.teletalmagazin.hu/hirek/a_magyar_konyha__1541

Given the history of Hungary, it is not surprising that the use of pork and pork products was developed to its current height.  Hungary was occupied by Ottoman forces from 1541 to 1699.  And like all occupying armies, the Ottomans helped themselves to all that was produced and raised in Hungary, all, except pork and pork products. 

The Ottomans (current day Turkish people) were Muslims, and as such, pork and pork products were forbidden by their religion.  Hence the Hungarians were not only free to raise pigs but were able to keep it to themselves as well.  Pork and pork products were never confiscated for the use of the occupying army.   


Food items that most influenced the development of Hungarian Cuisine

  • Paprika and peppers
  • Red Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Cabbage

Paprika, along with tomatoes and potatoes are not native to Hungary.  All were first imported from Central America by Diego Alvarez Chanca around 1494 to Spain.  Paprika did not make its way to Hungary till about 1604 and even then only as an ornamental plant called "Turkish Pepper".  It was not till the 19th century that paprika becomes the spice most associated with Hungarian cuisine.   

For paprika to take the status of “national spice” took centuries of cultivation and transformation.

Similarly, the use of garlic, red onions and dried pasta was introduced to Hungary by Italian chefs.  However, it is the frying of the onions and/or garlic in lard and the addition of paprika that brings out the characteristic Hungarian flavour.

Sour cream is often used to tame and/or enhance the flavour of other foods, especially paprika.  Any Hungarian recipe that ends with "kash" as in "chicken paprikash” signals the fact that there is sour cream added to the dish.  But sour cream is also added to many soups, vegetables, countless sauces and even desserts.

The humble cabbage, with all its varieties, is turned into countless recipes under the skilled hands of Hungarian chefs and home cooks.  Cabbage or sauerkraut can be found in recipes from goulash soups to desserts.  Whether it is baked, braised, sautéed, stewed, steamed or pickled, sweet or sour, it is always delicious, and easy to prepare.  Hungarian cabbage rolls, pork goulash and stuffed cabbage are but a few examples of dishes where the use of cabbage is lifted to an art form.  All the preparations above use some form of thickening agent, mostly roux

The use of roux to thicken sauces and soups is primarily due to the fact that traditionally, Hungarians believed that the water or juice in which vegetables are cooked should never be wasted as it not contained many vitamins and minerals but also the vegetables released their own unique flavour.  Cooked roux not only thickened the juice in which the vegetables were cooked but also added a subtle nutty flavour to the dish.

No peoples whose history goes back over 1000 years live in isolation, nor does their cuisine remain the same.  Some of the cuisine evolved from the ground up, or from the kitchens of ordinary people and some from the great kitchens of the aristocracy.  People and courts learned from each other’s cuisine.  Hence development of Hungarian cuisine was greatly influenced not only by the occupying Ottoman armies but also by ethnic minorities, such as the Slavs and Germans living in Hungary and the royal court of France and Austria.    


Challenges Faced by Modern Hungarian Cuisine

  • Preservation and evolution of traditional flavors
  • Creative use of modern cooking techniques
  • Maintaining the essence of Hungarian Cuisine

Today, highly creative Hungarian chefs are much more aware that the pallet of their audience has changed.  That is people are much more health and calorie conscious than in the past. 

Ordinary cooks are also much more aware of their family’s health needs and therefore devise creative ways to maintain the essence of Hungarian food.

Increasingly, the use of lard for cooking is replaced by the use of high quality cooking oils.

The use of roux to thicken sauces and soups are lessened and/or completely eliminated. 

For meat dishes, leaner cuts of meats are chosen.

Many different herbs and spices were used in Hungarian cuisine before the introduction of paprika. Modern chefs and home cooks returned to their creative use.  Yes, paprika is still used because of its unparallel ability to add a delicate flavour, but it is not so much used in fat laden dishes.


Hungarian Recipe Sources

All the recipes of the cuisine presented here are translated in order to share them with as many people as possible.  

The source of these recipes are many and varied.  They are mainly from:

  • friends and family
  • treasured antique cokbooks
  • famous Chefs
  • my own efforts
  • and off course you, if you are willing to share some with us

Hope you will enjoy these recipes as much as I enjoy sharing them with you. 

Happy cooking!

Valerie 





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