Traditional Hungarian dishes are primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, bread, dairy products, and cheeses.
Here are some of the country’s best dishes
Goulash is one of the most famous dishes from the Hungarian culinary repertoire, yet even today there are severe misconceptions about the original version of this iconic food.
The name derives from the gulyás (herdsmen), who made their rich and fulfilling dish in a kettle over an open fire.
Today, a kettle-made goulash is considered the most authentic version of all.
Almost every region has its own variety, although a basic goulash is somewhere between a soup and stew, with beef (occasionally veal or pork), carrot, potato, spices, and the typical paprika.
A special sweet spiral cylindered bread made from sweet yeast dough baked over charcoal and coated in plenty of sugar. This is the secret of kürtös kalács, one of Hungary’s most beloved street pastries.
‘Chimney cake’, as it is usually referred to, has a sweet, caramelized coating, onto which cinnamon, cocoa, coconut, or chopped walnuts are added.
The original kürtös kalács is from the Székely area of Transylvania and from there it dispersed along Hungary, becoming a vital part of Hungarian food identity.
The once must-have dish for the nobility, and the essential component of any wedding and baptism, over the years kürtös kalács has turned into a cherished everyday food, a demanded pastry during Christmas markets, and an indispensable element of every festival.
The legend of Dobos torte started in 1885 when the Hungarian confectioner József C. Dobos introduced his pioneering cake at the National General Exhibition of Budapest.
Dobos torte is among the most prominent Hungarian dishes, made from sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel.
Both the technology, form and taste were groundbreaking in its time. The main ingredient, the buttercream, was unknown and was used for the very first time.
Dobos kept his recipe secret until his retirement, although now Dobos torte has many more variations.
Fisherman’s soup (Halászlé)
Fisherman’s soup holds a similarly prominent place among the national dishes and, like goulash, it is cooked in a kettle over an open fire.
The soup is prepared from mixed river fish (carp, catfish, perch, or pike) and with a great amount of hot paprika, giving it the characteristic bright red color.
It has numerous varieties, with a la Baja (made with thick pasta and mainly carp) or Szeged (made with four types of fish) being the most famous.
Hungarians’ all-time favorite dish is unquestionably lángos: a deep-fried flatbread that is certainly something to avoid on a diet.
Lángos (deriving from the word flame) is served as a satisfying alternative to bread.
The origins of lángos are thought to be due to Turkish influence, while others believe it comes from the ancient Romans. What makes it so beloved is the endless varieties of toppings that come with it.
It is usually eaten with garlic sauce, cheese, tejföl (sour cream), or even sausages.
The prestigious title of ‘Hungary’s favorite cake’ is unanimously given to somlói Galuska, a delicious, unmissable dessert made from sponge cake, layered with chocolate cream, walnut kernel, rum, and whipped cream on the top.
Its history goes back to 1950 when the legendary Gundel Restaurant’s headwaiter (Károly Gollerits) envisioned this novel dessert.
However, the first publicly tasted cake was made only in 1958 by Béla Szőcs, master confectioner, whose cake became an award-winner at the Brussels World’s Fair.
Since the creator’s family keeps the original recipe secret, somlói galuska made elsewhere varies in form and preparation but always maintains the same fundamental ingredients.
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