At the heart of Hungarian cuisine, paprika can be found adding depth and color to many of the country’s most delicious dishes. From hot and spicy to sweet and flavorsome, the locally grown spice is an essential feature in numerous recipes. These are 10 of the most popular.
One of Hungary’s most traditional and emblematic dishes, the recipe for goulash has evolved over the centuries. One addition to the original method which has become an essential feature of the dish is paprika. The spice is added to a stew of beef and onions, with potatoes also a common addition, making for a hearty and warming Hungarian dish.
Simple to prepare and delicious to eat, paprika lovers will appreciate that the spice is one of only a few ingredients used in this dish, making its flavor all the more noticeable. Szalonna means bacon in English, and paprikás szalonna is simply a thick piece of cooked then cooled bacon, smothered in paprika. It’s eaten with freshly baked bread and makes for a simple and filling snack or meal.
As its name may suggest, this is a dish heavy on the paprika! So called thanks to the essential and generous inclusion of the spice, a number of variations can be made, allowing for a wide repertoire from just one dish. The basic component is a stew made from a creamy paprika sauce. Csirkepaprikás (chicken paprikash) is one of the most popular options; harcsapaprikás uses catfish; while gombapaprikás is made with mushrooms. Nokedli (Hungarian egg noodle dumplings) are usually served alongside, completing a tasty and robust meal. One of Hungary’s most well known dishes, this can easily be found on restaurant menus up and down the country.
A comforting dish which will warm the spirits of any Hungarian, likely bringing back memories of home and childhood, this simple yet delicious dish consists of cabbage stuffed with a mixture of rice, minced meat and, of course, paprika. Thanks to recipes being passed down through generations, there are a number of variations on this dish and each person will tell you that their grandma’s is the best!
A hearty vegetable stew with a base of tomatoes, peppers and paprika, Lecsó can be made using different varieties of pepper. The most popular makes use of mild Hungarian wax peppers, which are in season between August and October, making this a common dish in late summer. Bell and banana peppers can also be used and it is traditional (and some would argue, best) to cook the stew in a cauldron (bogrács) over an open fire. Lecsó can be enjoyed as a main dish accompanied by bread, or as a side dish to usually meat based meals.
Hot, spicy and incredibly warming, paprika is at the heart of this fish soup, and gives it its bright red colour. Prepared with river fish, thanks to Hungary’s landlocked geography, carp is commonly used, as well as catfish or pike. The Danube and Tisza rivers often provide the fish, with the dish traditionally made by fishermen with their fresh catch of the day. The meal is best prepared on the river banks over an open fire, but is also delicious when enjoyed in one of the many restaurants which serve the dish today.
Also known as punjena paprika, these stuffed peppers are popular across Hungary and in true Hungarian style, boast a fair amount of paprika in their recipe. Bell peppers are hollowed out, before being stuffed with minced meat, rice, tomato sauce and seasoning (including paprika) and roasted to make a delicious, comforting dish.
A versatile way to enjoy paprika with just about anything is adding it to a spread, and that’s exactly what this dish is. Cheese, sour cream, chopped onions and a generous helping of paprika are mixed together to make an incredibly moreish dip or spread which can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways. Spread it on freshly baked bread, add it to a sandwich, use it as a filling for stuffed peppers…the options are endless!
The recipe for this filling savoury dish was first created in 1958, for the Brussels World Fair, and remains popular in homes across the country to this day. Small enough to be eaten as a starter or snack, yet robust enough to be enjoyed as a main meal, the dish consists of savoury pancakes filled with meat. These are then covered in a paprika and sour cream sauce, before being baked and enjoyed fresh and piping hot.
Substantial and meaty, paprika and onion form the base to this Hungarian beef stew, while slow cooking is the method of choice to ensure a flavorsome meal. Red wine is also an essential component, while nokedli, turóscsusza or tarhonya are served up as an accompaniment.