I spent four months of college in Hungary, which was a great experience. Although Hungarians claim otherwise, much of their food is pretty sad. The exchange rate was quite favorable, so I was able to eat in some pretty nice restaurants. One standard tasty food on most menus, cheap or pricey, is gulyás. This food has been turned into an American food called “Goulash.” The Hungarian dish bears little resemblance to the scoop-shaped pasta-based lump on my elementary school lunch plate. Don’t feel too bad–Hungarians are generally terrible about mangling other ethnic foods, too.
Gulyás was traditionally made by herdsmen on the plains. It has stew-like ingredients, but is more soup-like. Somewhat like the turkey stuffing/dressing issues in the US, there are some serious disagreements about whether or not to use tomatoes or potatoes to make “genuine” gulyás. This recipe (lightly edited) from Dining Out in Hungary (I picked it up in Budapest, good luck getting it anywhere else), reasonably resembles the gulyás I ate several times, homemade or at restaurants. Don’t worry about the amount of paprika–the stuff is considered a condiment in Hungary and is featured prominently in this dish.
Gulyásleves (Gulyás Soup)
14 oz. stew beef (some sort of roast, cut into small pieces) 2 tbs oil 3 carrots 2 parsnips 1 piece kohlrabi 1 piece celeriac (I've never used this because I can't find it around here) 14 oz potatoes (2-3 potatoes) 1 onion 2 cloves garlic 1 tbs paprika 4 peppercorns 1/2 tsp caraway seed 1/2 tsp dried bay leaf (I just use a couple whole leaves) salt to taste Optional: Noodles for soup (see below)
Peel and finely chop the onion, saute in the oil in a large pan. Add the meat to the pan, and fry for a few minutes until lightly browned. Chop the garlic, add it and the paprika. Add hot water to cover, simmer covered until the meat is half cooked. Chop and add the carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi, and celeriac. Also add the peppercorns, caraway seed, bay leaf, and salt. Add enough water to make about 1 1/2 liters (1 1/2 quarts). Boil for ten minutes. Dice and add the potatoes. Simmer until everything is cooked. Add the noodles. When they rise to the surface, smmer for another two to three minutes, then serve.
Beat one egg and add enough flour to make a fairly stiff pliable mixture. Dip your thumb and a finger into the mixture and break off small pieces. Drop into the soup and cook until the noodles rise to the surface.
Next time I make this I’ll add a picture, but I don’t have these ingredients on hand right now. What, a well-stocked kitchen that doesn’t contain parsnips?