Hungary is famous for its cuisine rich in flavors as a result of centuries of spicing, baking and cooking. Here is a collection of some must-try Hungarian delicacies, desserts and dishes, in no particular order.
This delicious spiral-shaped pastry is a popular delicacy served at most festivals. Following centuries-old recipes from Transylvania, the dough is rolled onto a wooden pin and baked in a special oven until golden brown and crispy on the outside and soft inside. You can eat it plain or rolled into various toppings, like cinnamon, walnuts or coconut. Kürtőskalács is mostly sold by street vendors and in markets or you can try it at Molnár’s Kürtőskalács Bakery in Váci Street (Váci utca 31).
The origin of lángos comes from the times when families baked their own bread at home. Little pieces from the end of the dough were flattened into disks and deep-fried in oil to make snacks for the kids. Lángos is usually served with sour cream and/or grated cheese and sprinkled with salt and garlic. The best place to try lángos is at one of the market halls or the ’hidden’ lángos stand in Szentendre.
Usually served as an appetizer, Hortobágyi Palacsinta is crepes filled with veal or chicken stew and topped with sour cream. It’s a unique ’taste of Hungary’, as it contains all the main ingredients of Hungarian cuisine. You’ll find that Hortobágyi Palacsinta is always on the menu at Hungarian restaurants.
Halászlé (Fisherman’s Soup)
Thanks to the Danube and Tisza rivers and Lake Balaton, Hungary has an abundance of fresh-water fish. The country's most common fish dish is fisherman’s soup, made with lots of onions and the famous Hungarian paprika. Recipes differ by location, but perhaps the most well-known versions of fisherman’s soup are from Szeged (Tisza) and Baja (Duna). Another one of my favorite dishes, túrós csusza, which is pasta with cottage cheese, often accompanies fisherman’s soup.
Velőscsont (Bone Marrow)
Treated as a delicacy and served only in the finest restaurants in New York and London, bone marrow is part of many Hungarian families' home cooked meals. An ingredient of beef soup, bone marrow is served with toast and salt as an appetizer. It’s also on the menu at many Hungarian restaurants.
Summertime is veggie time in Hungary. This is when different types of creamed vegetables (főzelék) are served at home and in restaurants. Almost any type of vegetable can be turned into főzelék, but spinach, summer squash, green beans and green peas are probably the most popular. Served with eggs or meat loaf, főzelék makes a great lunch. A good way to try főzelék is to order it as part of a prefix lunch menu.
Hungarian sausages come in a variety of forms and are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can be fresh, cured, smoked or dried. Fresh sausages are either cooked or fried and are best served with mustard, pickles, horseradish and fresh bread. A unique variety of kolbász is made from mangalica meat, the curly-haired pig that is a Hungarian heritage breed. Try kolbász at the Mangalica Festival, one of the many sausage festivals or at Central Market Hall.
Hideg Meggyleves (Chilled Sour Cherry Soup)
This traditional summertime treat is not only delicious but refreshing too. Hideg meggyleves is a favorite Hungarian dish and is surprisingly easy to make. If you are feeling adventurous or want to treat your kids try this recipe for chilled sour cherry soup.
Szilvásgombóc (Plum Dumplings)
This sweet treat of potato dumplings stuffed with plums and cinnamon sugar and rolled in breadcrumbs is served as a dessert and should be on everyone’s menu when visiting Hungary. Szilvásgombóc is another favorite with kids and although it requires a bit more work than sour cherry soup it’s well worth the effort.
One of Hungary’s favorite chocolate bar comes in a red and white polka dot package and it can be found in the dairy isle at most local supermarkets. Túró Rudi is a dark chocolate bar filled with cottage cheese. There are different flavors, like apricot, cherry, strawberry, ect. but my favorite is the clasic non-flavored Rudi.
Jó étvágyat! (Bon appétit!)