If you do not know much about Hungarian cuisine, then you've got a lot to learn—and a lot to try! Hungarians pride themselves on their great traditions, from street foods to eat on the go to family feasts, meant to be savored in good company. Hungarian food is usually quite hearty and filling, and they will always make sure that family, friends, and guests are fed well. If you are ever traveling to Hungary, know you will always be satisfied by the delicious dishes they make up as their traditional foods! Paprika is a big factor in many authentic Hungarian recipes. Hungarians love their paprika; it is one of the things they are most known for! The spice, along with the peppers that the spice is grown from, is sold in many stores and market places. Paprika is the perfect spice that can be leaning toward mild (or sweet as they call it there) or all the way to the other side of the spectrum; spicy. Come with me on a culinary journey of the favorite dishes and foods traditional to Hungary. The dishes that I will be sharing with you are the dishes that are loved by many Hungarians and my family alike; and, of course, are many of my favorites too! These dishes are the ones you absolutely have to try!
Chicken Paprikash has been a staple dish in our family and in many other Hungarian families for generations. If you were to visit Hungary, any restaurant you go to will have this exact dish—or a variation of it on the menu, each variation extremely delicious too. Every Hungarian knows how to make it. Chicken Paprikash is a hot chicken dish that is cooked in a paprika sauce, or gravy as others may call it, and served with homemade dumplings. Many people put a dollop of sour cream in the mix to thicken the sauce. In my house we use a lot of sour cream to make it more of a thicker gravy and it still tastes amazing. This warm comfort food is a must have on a cold night.
For those that love trying street foods, Lángos is a popular, normally savory treat that one can get on many food trucks, cafes, and concessions at attractions in Hungary. This fried yeast bread is normally topped with garlic, butter, sour cream, cheese and an assortment of toppings of a customer's choosing; much like you would have on a pizza anywhere else in the world. There are also variations of Lángos that people choose sweet instead of savory so this can really go both ways. This fried savory goodness will put a smile on your face every time.
Kürtőskalács or Chimmeny Cake
Chimney cakes are sold as sweet treat street food and are also available in many bakeries around Hungary and a select few other Eastern European countries! These sweet, sugary spiral cakes are cooked over coals and topped with a variety of toppings like sprinkles, cinnamon sugar, or even peanuts; really anything that a person could want on these flaky spiral cakes. Some put ice cream inside and make a cone out of the cakes. It is a must try if you are in Hungary.
Stuffed cabbage is a main traditional dish in Hungary. This dish is cabbage stuffed with rice and meat traditionally. You see a version of this dish in many different cultures, like stuffed grape leaves that people are familiar with in Greece and other Eastern European countries and some Middle Eastern countries. To make this dish, cabbage leaves are filled with rice and meats and wrapped together tightly so as not to fall apart while boiling. They are made in a red tomato and paprika sauce. My father; who is not at all Hungarian, particularly likes this dish and will make it on cold nights or whenever the craving for it strikes him. Topped with a dollop of sour cream or two, you are in for a happy tummy.
Seeing as how we are ending the holiday season, I thought I would finish this tour of Hungarian cuisine with something that is extra special and dear to me. Every year around Christmas time, my great grandmother and now my grandmother makes these Hungarian Christmas cookies called Kiffles. Kiffles are cookies made out of dough similar to a pie dough usually filled with apricot, prunes, or raspberry preserves or pie filling or with a nut spread. The tradition of making these every Christmas will be passed down to my mother and then to me and, when I have, them my children. I hope that this tradition gets passed down for a long long time.