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Served Gulyás soup

Hungarian or Magyar cuisine is the cuisine characteristic of the nation of Hungary and its primary ethnic group, the Magyars. Traditional Hungarian dishes are primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, cheeses and honey. Recipes are based on centuries-old traditions around spicing and preparation methods.


General features

Hortobágyi palacsinta, a savoury pancake filled with veal, served in Sopron

Hungarians are especially passionate about their soups, desserts and pastries and stuffed pancakes (palacsinta), with fierce rivalries between regional variations of the same dish, (like the Hungarian hot fish soup called Fisherman's Soup or halászlé, cooked differently on the banks of Hungary's two main rivers: the Danube and the Tisza). Other famous Hungarian dishes would be Paprikás (paprika stew, meat simmered in thick creamy paprika gravy) served with nokedli (small dumplings), Goulash, Gundel Pancake (pancakes served flambéed in dark chocolate sauce filled with ground walnuts) and Dobos Cake (layered sponge cake, with chocolate buttercream filling and topped with a thin caramel slice).

Two remarkable elements of Hungarian cuisine that are hardly noticed by locals, but usually conjure up much enthusiasm amongst foreigners, are different forms of vegetable stews called főzelék[1] as well as cold fruit soups, like cold sour cherry soup (Hungarian: hideg meggyleves).

Meat stews, casseroles, steaks, roasted pork, beef, poultry, lamb or game and the Hungarian sausages (kolbász[1]) and winter salami are a major part of Hungarian cuisine. The mixing of different varieties of meat is a traditional feature of the Hungarian cuisine. Goulash, stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbages or Fatányéros (Hungarian mixed grill on wooden platter[2]) can combine beef and pork, and sometimes mutton. In very exclusive dishes fruits like plums and apricots are cooked with meat or in piquant sauces/stuffings for game, roasts and other cuts. Various kinds of noodles and dumplings, potatoes and rice are commonly served as a side dish. The Hungarian cuisine uses a large variety of cheeses, but the most common are túró (a fresh quark cheese), cream cheeses, ewe-chese (juhturó), Emmentaler, Edam and the Hungarian cheese Trappista.


Hot peppers

Hungarian food is often spicy, as hot paprika is commonly used; on account of the use of this spice (hot paprika), Hungarian cuisine is arguably the spiciest cuisine native to Europe. Besides hot paprika, sweet (mild) paprika is also used daily. The combination of paprika, lard and red onions is typical of Hungarian cuisine,[3] and the use of the thick sour cream called tejföl. Besides different kinds of paprika and onions (raw, sweated or caramelized), other common flavor components include garlic, black peppercorn, parsley, ground black and white pepper, bay leaf, dill, caraway (seeds or grounded), marjoram, thyme, mustard (prepared), tarragon, vinegar, savory, lovage, creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum), chervil, lemon juice and peel (zest), almond, vanilla, poppy seeds and cinnamon. Additional flavor components are wine, coriander, rosemary, juniper berries, anise, basil, oregano, allspice, horseradish, cloves, mace, and nutmeg.


"Paprikáscsirke nokedlivel" - paprika chicken with Nokedli

Hungarian cuisine is influenced the history of the Magyar people. The importance of livestock and the nomadic lifestyle of the Magyar people is apparent in the prominence of meat in Hungarian food and may be reflected in traditional meat dishes cooked over the fire like Goulash (in Hungarian "gulyás", lit. "herdsman's meat")[3], pörkölt stew and the spicy Fisherman’s soup called halászlé are all traditionally cooked over the open fire in a bogrács (or cauldron). In the 15th century, King Matthias Corvinus[4][5] and his Neopolitan wife Beatrice, influenced by Renaissance culture, introduced new ingredients and spices like garlic, ginger, mace, saffron and nutmeg[6], onion and the use of fruits in stuffings or cooked with meat. [7] Some of these spices like ginger and saffron are no longer used in modern Hungarian cuisine[8]. At that time and later, considerable numbers of Saxons (a German ethnic group), Armenians, Italians, Jews and Serbs settled in the Hungarian basin and in Transylvania. Elements of ancient Turkish cuisine were adopted during the Ottoman era, in the form of sweets (for example different Nougats, like white nougat called törökméz[9] , quince (birsalma) sweets, Turkish Delight), Turkish coffee, the cake called bejgli or rice dishes like pilaf (in Transylvania), meat and vegetable dishes like the eggplant, used in eggplant salads and appetizers, stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage called töltött káposzta. Hungarian cuisine was influenced by Austrian cuisine under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Dishes and methods of food preparation have often been borrowed from the Austrian cuisine. Cakes and sweets in Hungary show a strong German/Austrian influence. All told, modern Hungarian cuisine is a synthesis of ancient Asiatic components mixed with Germanic, Italian, and Slavic elements. The food of Hungary can be considered a melting pot of the continent.

Hungarian meals

Virsli (hot dog) with mustard
Almásrétes, apple strudel

In Hungary people usually have a large breakfast. Hungarian breakfast generally is an open sandwich with fresh bread or a toast, butter, cheese or different cream cheeses, túró cheese or körözött (Liptauer cheese spread), cold cuts such as ham, véres hurka (similar to black pudding), liver paté (called májkrém or kenőmájas), bacon, salami, beef tongue, mortadella, disznósajt (head cheese), sausages like kabanos, beerwurst or different Hungarian sausages (kolbász).[10] Even eggs, (fried, scrambled or boiled), French toast called bundáskenyér and vegetables (like peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, radish, scallion and cucumber) are part of the Hungarian breakfast. Sometimes breakfast is a cup of milk, tea or coffee with pastries, a bun, a kifli or a strudel[3] with jam or honey, or cereal like muesli and perhaps fruit. Children can have rice pudding (tejberizs) or Cream of Wheat (tejbegriz) for breakfast topped with cocoa powder and sugar. Hot drinks are preferred for breakfast.

Villásreggeli (literally breakfast with fork) is a more luxurious big breakfast given on special occasions or holidays. Often guests are invited. Deviled eggs, cold steak, cold salads, salmon-omelet, pancakes, körözött, caviar, foie gras, fruit salads, compote, fruit yogurts, fruit juices, champagne and pastries, cakes and cookies may be served.

Lunch is the major meal of the day, usually with several courses. Cold or hot appetizers[11] may be served sometimes (for example fish, egg or liver), then soup. Soup is followed by a main dish. A main dish can be a sweet pastry dish or dish including meat and salad, which precedes the dessert. Fruit may follow. In Hungary pancakes are served as a main dish, not for breakfast. Salad is always served with meat dishes, made of lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers and onions [11] or a simple thin sliced cucumber salad in vinaigrette. Salads like Salade Olivier or potato salad are made of boiled potatoes[1], vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, fried or boiled meat or fish, in vinaigrette, aspic or mayonnaise. These salads are eaten as appetizers or even as a main course.

Some people and children eat a light meal in the afternoon, called uzsonna, usually an open sandwich. Dinner is a far less significant meal than lunch. It may be similar to breakfast, usually an open sandwich, yogurt or virsli (hot dog sausage) with a bun, more seldom a cake, pancakes (palacsinta), and it consists of only one course.

Typical Hungarian dishes


Gulyás in a traditional "bogrács" (cauldron)
  • Gulyásleves (goulash soup. It is possible to cook gulyas like a stew as well, for example Székelygulyas).
  • Halászlé (a famous hot and spicy fish soup with hot paprika)
  • Húsleves (clear chicken or veal meat soup with soup vegetables and thin soup pasta called csipetke)
  • Hideg meggyleves (chilled sour-cherry soup)
  • Jókai bableves (a bean soup named after the author Mór Jókai)
  • Vadgombaleves (wild mushroom soup)
  • Borleves (wine soup)
  • Palócleves (named after the Palóc, an ethnic group of Northeastern Hungary)
  • Köménymagleves ( caraway seed soup)

Main courses

Stuffed cabbage
Gundel Palacsinta filled with nuts and chocolate sauce

Sausage and cold cuts

  • Hurka (sausage, two types: liver sausage called májas hurka, made of pork liver, meat and rice and black sausage called véres hurka, which is equivalent to the black pudding)
  • Téliszalámi - (or Winter salami, salami made of spiced meat, cold smoked, and dry ripened, the most famous brand made by Pick Szeged)
  • Herz Szalámi from Budapest
  • Csabai szalámi and kolbász (spicy salami and smoked sausage, made in the town Békéscsaba)
  • Gyulai kolbász (spicy sausage, made in the town Gyula)
  • Debreceni kolbász (Debrecener sausage)
  • Disznósajt (head cheese, meat jelly, meat slices in aspic with additional gelatin)
  • Bacon called szalonna (Hungarian bacon, fatback, back bacon rind, has more fat than usual breakfast bacon)
  • Virsli. (a Frankfurter-like long and thin sausage, consumed boiled with bread mustard)

Sweets and cakes

  • Dobos torta (sponge cake layered with chocolate paste and glazed with caramel and nuts)
  • Linzer torta (a tart with crisscross design of pastry strips on top)
  • Rigó Jancsi (Cube-shaped sponge cake with dark chocolate glaze)
  • Gesztenyepüré (cooked and mashed sweet chestnuts with sugar and rum, topped with whipped cream).
  • Bejgli[1] (cake roll eaten at Christmas and Easter.)
  • Kürtőskalács Stove cake or Chimney cake, cooked over an open fire—a Transylvanian specialty, famous as Hungary's oldest pastry
  • Csöröge (crispy, light Hungarian Angel Wing fry cookies[1] a twisted thin fried cookie made of yeast doug, dusted with powdered sugar)
  • Vaníliás kifli (vanilla croissant, small, crescent shaped biscuits)
  • Piskóta (thin, light, sweet delicate, crispy cookie) ,
  • Rétes (strudel)
  • Kuglóf (Kuglóf cake, a traditional Austro-Hungarian coffee party cake)
  • Lekváros Bukta or Bukta (a baked dessert filled with jam, túró or ground walnuts)
  • Lekváros tekercs (Rolled up soft sponge cake filled with jam)
  • Lekvár (Thick Hungarian jam)
  • Birsalma sajt[14] (Quince cheese, or quince jelly made of quince fruits)
  • Törökméz[9] (a sweet sticky white nougat paste cooked with sugar, eggwhites, honey, bits of walnuts, spread between two wafer sheets)
  • Halva (a Transsylvanian sweet confection, made with sunflower seeds, of Turkish origin)
  • Madártej (Floating island, a dessert made of milk custard with eggwhite dumplinds floating on top)
  • Túró Rudi (sweet quark cheese - called túró - filled chocolate bar)
  • Szaloncukor (flavoured candies which hang on the Christmas tree, eaten at Christmas)


  • Lángos (fried bread dough)
  • Pogácsa (a type of bun, round puffed pastry with bacon, traditionally cooked on the fire)
  • Zsemle (round small breads, eaten cut in half, with butter, cold cuts or jam, often for breakfast)
  • Fánk or ‎Bismarck Doughnuts
  • Kifli (crescent-shaped pastry, see picture)
  • Perec (Pretzel, salty crispy pasty)
  • Májgaluska (small liver dumplings used in different soups, for example liverball soup)
  • Grizgaluska (Hungarian boiled semolina dumplings used in soup).
  • Tarhonya (a kind of large Hungarian "couscous", big pasta grain, served as a side dish)
  • Rizi-bizi (Hungarian risotto, white rice mixed with green peas, served as a side dish)
  • Vinetta or padlizsán krém (Transylvanian mashed eggplant salad made of grilled, peeled and finely chopped eggplants)
  • Körözött or Liptai túró (cheese spread with ground sweet paprika and onions)
  • Libamájpástétom (Hungarian delicacie: foie gras - goose liver pâté)
  • Bundás kenyér (literally, "coated bread" or "bread with a fur", French toast or Gypsy toast, a breakfast food or eaten with spinach)
  • Bread (Hungarian bread -kenyér- is baked fresh every morning in the bakeries. The bread is big, round and with a hard thick crust)
  • Vekni (The other freshly baked bread type. Long loaves with crispy crust, thicker or thiner, like the baguette)


A cold bottle of Unicum

Hungarian wines dates back to at least Roman times, and that history reflects the country's position between the Slavs and the Germanic peoples. The best-known wines are the white dessert wine called Tokaj (North-Eastern region of Hungary) (Tokaji) and the red vines from Villány (Southern part of Hungary). Famous is also the vine called Bull's Blood (Egri Bikavér), a dark, full-bodied red wine. Hungarian fruit wines, like redcurrant wine, are mild and soft in taste and texture

Though not as famous as the country's wines, Hungarian beer has a long history as well. Hungary's most notable liquors are Unicum, a herbal bitters, and Palinka, a range of fruit brandies.

Also notable are the Hungarian mineral waters, 21 brands, (for example Apenta and Kekkuti)[15], which should deserve more international attention, unique, refreshing and tasty, and some of them having therapeutic value, like Mira or the Transylvanian Borszéki.

Traubi or Traubisoda, is a Hungarian soft drink produced in Balatonvilágos.

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e June Meyers Authentic Hungarian Heirloom Recipes Cookbook
  2. ^ Famous Hungarian recipes
  3. ^ a b c Gundel's Hungarian Cookbook, Karoly Gundel.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Hotdog.magazin
  6. ^ Gourmandnet
  7. ^ Hungarian Cuisine, History, Gastronomy, Legend, Memoires, Recipes and Lore
  8. ^ [ ]
  9. ^ a b Törökméz
  10. ^ Gundel's Hungarian Cookbook, Karoly Gundel, page34
  11. ^ a b Gundel's Hungarian Cookbook, Karoly Gundel
  12. ^ Gundel, Karoly (1992). Gundel's Hungarian cookbook. Budapest: Corvina. ISBN 963-13-3600-X. OCLC 32227400.  page 100
  13. ^ Gundel, Karoly (1992). Gundel's Hungarian cookbook. Budapest: Corvina. ISBN 963-13-3600-X. OCLC 32227400.  page 83
  14. ^ Quince-cheese
  15. ^ Mineral Waters of the World

External links

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