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25+1 Hungarian food you need to try when you visit Budapest – part 2.

Can we keep tickling your tastebuds? In case you’ve missed the first part of our culinary guide to Hungary, here you can get familiar with some streetfoods and the hearty dishes. The Hungarian cuisine is based on vegetables, think about how gulyás and pörkölt is made with paprika and we add tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, however we tend to go for meatless to in some national dishes. One thing for sure – always ask if they don’t contain any added animal fats as especially in the countryside, they use lard or add some bacon or cured sausage bites as toppings. Paprikás krumpli (potato paprikash) sounds meatless, logically must be meatless, still sausages are often aded to add that extra flavour and juices (cured sausage like kolbász or wiener saisage). Strict vegetarians rather need to look for vegetarian restaurants – where there is no meat going in. Nemsüti bisztró has weekly offers and you can find potato paprikash fritatta or stuffed peppers in their menu. Hungarian desserts are often made with sweet quark cheese, but for the sweet-tooth we recommend tasting the classic Hungarian cake sortiment at Auguszt, Daubner or Szamos cake shops. These family run business’ are passing the recipes through generations from father to son, to mother to daughter and if you wish to get to know the traditions, try Dobos cake, rétes, Eszterházy cake just to name a few. Palacsinta (Hungarian crépes) is the jolly joker of all desserts with sweet quark cheese or homemade apricot jam, order at least two, and don’t be surprised if you re-order two more!

Vegetarian dishes

  • Lecsó (letscho) – this thick vegetable stew features white bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and paprika powder – you need to ask if they have used any animal fats (aka lard) to make it, as it may happen as this dish is originally cooked with cured sausage (kolbász) bits. There are also some versions where they add rice or whisk eggs in it, taste-wise imagine the latter similar to shakshuka.  The best to dip it’s leftover juices with fresh white bread, and we recommend to try it at Lecsó.
  • Tojásos nokedli (finely grated dumplings with egg) – a real summer favourite with some refreshingly crunchy lettuce with vinaigrette on the side. The dumpling are superfilling and it’s simple flavours are making it yet delicious: remember the less is more, try it at Menza restaurant.
  • Káposztás tészta (cabbage pasta) is homemade noodle with stewed cabbage, flavoured with fresh ground pepper and in some places – yeah, tis would sound weird – they even put a hint of sugar on it. Try it at Kiskakukk Restaurant.
  • Gombapörkölt (mushroon paprikash) – a real vegetarian favourite, juicy mushroom slices in a paprika sauce with some nokedli on the side. Find it at the smaller restaurants called kisvendéglő.
  • Körözött (liptauer cheese spread) – as a starter you might have this spread inside a white pepper, otherwise you will have it on bread with some red onion and cherry tomatoes. The paprika powder and cumin adds an extra oomph to the flavours! for a quick pick me up, visit Cserpes Tejivó!
  • Főzelék (vegetable pottage) – Főzelék is a special category in Hungarian cuisine, simply cooked, typically by simmering, not mashing,  being considered as an ordinary type of meal, it seldom appears on restaurant menu cards, apart from that of homely diners. Usually thickened with roux, sour cream and with itself, it can be made with cabbage, potatoes, peas, kohlrabi, lentils, spinach, sorrel, etc. Sunny-side eggs, potato hash are among the toppings. It’s heaven is Főzelékfaló!

Sweet dishes and dessert

  • Meggyleves (sour cherry soup) – a thicker soup with pitted sour cherries, topped with sour cream or cream, sometimes whipped cream. A typical summer favourite, eaten cold.
  • Gesztenyepüré (chestnut purée) –  known as Mont Blanc in France it is a popular dessert in Hungary when sweetened and served with whipped cream.
  • Dobos torta (Dobos cake) – this sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. The layered pastry is named after its inventor, József Dobos. The hard caramel topping is a real addiction, so beware!
  • Madártej (floating island or bird’s milk) – this dessert has French origin, consisting of egg white meringue floating on crème anglaise (a vanilla custard). The meringues are prepared from whipped egg whites, sugar and vanilla extract then quickly poached. The crème anglaise is prepared with the egg yolks, vanilla, and hot milk, briefly cooked.
  • Rétes (Hungarian strudel) – the traditional Hungarian strudel is filled with sweetened apples. Raisins and chopped walnuts can be added, if desired. Other version is filled with sweet quark cheese and raisins, though there are version with poppyseed and sour cherry.
  • Somlói galuska (Hungarian trifle) – made with three types of sponge cake (simple, walnuts, cocoa) chocolate filling and whipped cream.
  • Mákos guba (poppyseed bread pudding) – the main ingredient for our poppy seed bread pudding recipe is left over dry breads or bread crescents soaked in sweet vanilla milk and baked in the oven, often served with vanilla custard. You can taste some of these sweet treats at Rosenstein or at  Kárpátia.

Let’s not forget the local digestives and apertifs: pálinka and Unicum are the ones you must try at least once, while you are in Budapest, soda water is always a budget refreshment. In this amazing video you can get to know their story from the experts: the owners!

Photo: RitaE/Pixabay

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