During the nation’s colourful history Hungarian cuisine was influenced by many ethnic gastronomies. The first people to live in present-day Hungary were nomads called the Magyars, to whom Hungary’s national dish, the meat stew called goulash, can be connected. Dried cubes of meat were put under the saddles which they cooked with onions, and some water was added to make it a stew. The reign of King Matthias (1458–90), through his Italian wife, Queen Beatrice, brought Italian cooking to Hungary. When the Turks invaded Hungary in the 16th century, they brought their cooking customs with them as well. Among many others, these included the use of paprika as spice. When the Habsburg monarchy gained control over Hungary, German and Austrian cooking styles influenced Hungarian eating habits. During this period, Hungary became famous for its cakes and pastries.
In recent years, chefs are altering Hungarian cuisine to be healthier, low in calories, but still rich in vitamins, preserving authentic Hungarian flavours. Besides the Hungarian traditional cuisine one can find several fine dining restaurants in Budapest.
The traditional Hungarian dishes contain simple ingredients. There are excellent conditions in Hungary for growing tasty vegetables, fruits, and to raise domestic animals with savoury meat. Some typical ingredients traditional Hungarian cuisine uses: paprika powder, lard, onion and garlic, sour cream, cottage cheese, walnut and poppy seed in sweet courses…etc.
When speaking about Hungarian gastronomy we must as well remember Hungarian wines
Hungary has 22 wine regions, with Tokaj, Kunság, Csongrád and Hajós-Baja, Eger, Villány and Szekszárd being the most important ones. Tokaj, in northeast Hungary, at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains is best known for its sweet Tokaji Aszú wines (most probably you have already heard about Tokaji), as well as the Furmint, Hárslevelű and Muscat grapes. Eger, in the north of the country, produces elegant red wines, in particular the ’Bikavér’ (the Bull’s Blood). Kunság, Csongrád and Hajós-Baja are all to be found in the large flat southern area, between the Danube and the Tisza Rivers, also known as the Great Plain. This area accounts for about half of the wine produced in Hungary which tends to be quick drinking table wine mainly. Villány is Hungary’s most southerly and hottest wine region, producing the country’s best and most full-bodied red wines. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are of key importance here, and Cabernet Franc has made a particular name for itself. Portugieser is also central, the second most widely planted grape in the region after Cabernet Sauvignon. Heading north you’ll find Szekszárd where red wine is the most significant.
In case you would like to get a closer experience with Hungarian Wines, you have a lot of opportunities in Hungary, for instance Budapest holds a major wine festival in the Buda Castle every year.
2015 brings the 24th Budapest Wine Festival. Between September 9-13, 15 countries, 220 wineries, 5000 wines are presented here.
Budapest Wine Festival always offers a nice variety of the finest wines of Hungary’s best winemakers along with foreign wines, thanks to noted wine traders. This wide range includes award winning wines from winemakers who have won awards and medals at well-known domestic and international competitions. Visitors can enjoy 5 days of cultural and musical entertainment. Almost 50 different shows will take place on the stage of the festival. Folk dance and music, jazz and the most popular Hungarian bands of world music will create memorable moments during the festival. This year again, Budapest Wine Festival will offer special gastronomic delights made of domestic quality ingredients focusing on the flavours of the cuisine of the guest country. Old recipes revised, hand crafted traditional products and lively bistro cuisine will all be on offer at Buda Castle. Visitors will be able to taste the traditional homemade strudel, the oven baked “Hungarian pizza”, classic stove cake, delicatessens made of Mangalica, Hungarian, French and Spanish sheep’s, goat’s and cow’s cheese, special ham and homemade smoked delicacies. Explore the Tastes of Hungary at the Budapest Wine Festival!
Activities featuring Hungarian gastronomy
- wine tasting, wine dinner
- grape harvest
- cooking course with a possibility to have fun and buy the ingredients at the Great Market Hall
- enjoying a strudel stretching show while having a dinner at the First Strudel House of Pest
Until your next visit to Hungary, here is a recipe which brings the taste of Hungary to you
Don’t worry we chose the most simple recipe we could! ☺
A typical Hungarian street food – a deep-fried dough traditionally with sour cream and cheese on the top and with garlic flavour.
- The ingredients (makes about 10 lángos, depending on the size)
- 300 g all-purpose flour
- 7 g dried (instant) yeast
- 250 ml water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- sunflower oil (for frying)
- toppings: sour cream, grated cheese, garlic
The how-to: In a mug, dissolve the salt in the water. In a bowl, combine the sifted flour with the yeast. Add the salty water to it and stir thoroughly (if it’s very sticky, add a little bit more flour). Work the dough with a wooden spoon or with your hands until the dough is smooth and no longer sticks to the bowl. Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a clean cloth and let it rise for 30-40 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
Once it is rested, carefully tip out the dough onto a floured surface, stretch it out into a square and cut out about 10 cm (3,93 inch) round shapes with a big glass (a big cookie cutter also works). Stretch out each piece with your fingers into a round shape with the centre being thinner than the edges. Let the pieces rest for another 30 minutes on the floured surface.
In a saucepan, heat sunflower oil. Place the lángos into the hot oil, fry it on one side until golden brown then turn. Repeat with the remaining lángos dough.
Serve while it’s hot. You can eat it simple or sprinkled with chopped garlic or doused with garlic water and topped with grated cheese and sour cream.
Enjoy your meal! / Jó étvágyat!
And what we are proud of…
- In Budapest there are already four restaurants awarded with Michelin Star:
Costes, Onyx, Borkonyha (Winekitchen) and Tanti
- The Hungarian Great Market Hall is among the top 10 European Market Halls: At Budapest’s Great Market Hall you find plenty of stalls, where you can buy paprika, Hungarian wine, traditional Hungarian gadgets and of course all the ingredients essential for Hungarian cuisine. It is also a must for the fans of Lángos!
- Bocuse d’Or 2016: Budapest will host the European finals of the biennial world chef championship Bocuse d’Or between 9 and 11 May in 2016. The competition will be held within the framework of the Sirha international food industry exhibition which is expected to attract about 350 exhibitors from Hungary and around the world, in addition to the approximately 20,000 visitors from within the trade. Ten Michelin Starred kitchens will be built inside the Hungexpo venue, and Hungarian ingredients will play a special role in the competition.