Featured Country of the month: Hungary

This month’s weather has been particularly challenging and so I knew that I wanted to explore a country famed for hearty fare. With rich, warm stews in mind, this month I looked at the cuisine of Hungary.


Traditionally, the food eaten in Hungary was relatively simple with meat stews as a staple. The Magyar people were Nomadic and their cooking customs centred around meat and seasonal vegetables - the earliest form of the now famous dish; Goulash. In the 15th century King Matthias was responsible for introducing Western influences into Hungary through his Italian wife, Queen Beatrice who brought pasta and cheese with her. The Turkish empire also had a crucial influence on the cuisine of Hungary, as it brought paprika, tomatoes, rice, as well as new cooking techniques to the people of Hungary. Nowadays, Hungary is still known for its stews and soups but also for an impressive array of indulgent cakes and pastries.



Langos

About

The first dish I KNEW I was going to make had to be Langos. In the Summer of 2013, two friends and I embarked on an interrailing trip around Europe and Langos was one of the ultimate food highlights.

Langos is a street food which consists of fried flat bread and is typically topped with soured cream and cheese. Traditionally, Langos was made with leftover dough and fired in a brick oven - it gets its name from this traditional cooking method, with ‘lang’ meaning flame. Nowadays, Langos is almost always deep-fried.

What happened?

This was actually very easy to make! The first step involves making the yeasted dough - a combination of milk and water helps to ensure a crisp outside and a soft fluffy inside to the completed bread. Following some proving time, the dough needed to be shaped into circles with a chubbier outside edge like a pizza crust. I then deep-fried the dough discs individually until golden brown and finished them with a healthy topping of soured cream, cheese and some bacon.


Did you like it?

Literally, what is there not to like here? You definitely don’t want to eat this every day, week, or month even but what I can recommend is that this could be the ideal thing to make on a hangover day..!

Marks out of 10: 9/10



Bejgli

About

In Hungary, Christmas is not Christmas without Bejgli. In the month of December, bakeries are filled with this sweet pastry roll across the country. Bejgli is typically served in pairs - one filled with a walnut filling and one with a poppy seed mix.


Something I was unable to discover but kept uncovering conflicting information about was the final appearance of the Bejgli. Some articles showed a perfectly smooth finish across the Bejgli and included tips on how to avoid cracking on the outside. Others proudly showed a beautifully cracked Bejgli with a giraffe like appearance across the log, and tips on how to ensure a cracked surface.


What happened?

Things did not go as smoothly as I had hoped for my Bejgli. I kept things simple for this and opted to just make the walnut version but I had enough dough to make two logs, which I did. I was unsure what finish I was going for and ended up confusing myself and following procedure for both a cracked and uncracked appearance and decided to let the Bejgli gods decide. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in a largely smooth appearance with some unsightly cracking - the worst of both options!

They also expanded a lot more than I was expecting and merged together on one side but I was able to pry them apart.

Did you like it?

I really liked the filling but I think that overall it was a bit too dry for me!


Marks out of 10: 7/10




Hungarian Goulash

About

This is likely the dish that Hungary is most well known for. First things first - is it a soup or is it a stew?!

Turns out it can be either - a thicker version with more meat will be deemed a stew, whereas a thinner version with more vegetables is soup. Either way, Goulash is generally eaten as the main component of the meal and like a lot of Hungarian meals, is best served with copious amounts of sour cream.


There are lots of different variations to Goulash soup but two of the staples are meat and a hefty helping of Paprika.


What happened?

I was really keen to get a hold of proper Hungarian Paprika but had unfortunately left it too late to acquire some. I used some beef shin for this and slowly cooked the stew over a low heat until the meat was falling apart and delicious. I added potatoes about 30 minutes before the end of the cook time so that they retained their structural integrity.


Did you like it?

This was super simple and hands off and the end result was exactly what I was hoping for - it was like eating a warm hug. I will be keeping an eye out for Hungarian Paprika so that I can make this again in the future!


Marks out of 10: 9/10


You can view all previous 'Country of the Month' articles HERE.


I’ll be asking for more suggestions through instagram again this month - if you don’t have instagram and want to suggest a country, just drop me an email: eatingwithailsa@gmail.com.

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