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Hungarian Cuisine and Recipes

Hungarian Recipes and cooking

Cooking by Country - November 2002


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Go to:-   Hungary Featured Ingredient  |  Hungary Speciality Dish  |  Cooking by Country Main Page




Hungary is situated on a flat, fertile plain at the centre of Europe.

These two factors are amongst the many which have made it a desirable  acquisition for foreigners from both east and west, all of whom have left their mark on Hungarian cuisine over the past thousand years.



Ancient Times and Influences on Hungarian Cooking


Hungary is the home of the Magyars, a nomadic people who settled in the Carinthian basin between 892-896 A.D. having done a deal with Emperor Arnulf, a ruler of a nearby kingdom in Western Europe. He offered them the land in return for helping him to conquer his enemies.


This land which was rich with fish and game and perfect for the rearing of livestock and the production of crops made for a varied diet. The Magyars used bogrács- large cauldrons, as their main cooking utensil which were traditionally used over open fires. These are still used today in the cooking of many Hungarian dishes including Pörkölt (goulash). They also brought with them the dry pasta called tarhonya which they had come across during their wanderings throughout the East.


Some of the first records of Hungarian gastronomy were probably written in the 15th Century when King Matthias Corvinus was ruler . He insisted that everything that happened in his court was recorded in the greatest of detail by his chronicler, Marzio Galeotto including the food they ate and how it was cooked. For example, meats, poultry and fish were always served with gravies made from their own juices and peacock was the highlight of most banquets. His Italian wife Beatrice,  is said to have introduced Renaissance cooking to  the courts and with that,  the  importing of garlic.


In 1526 part of Hungary fell under Turkish rule and remained so for 150 years and it was during this time that paprika was introduced to Hungarian cuisine by the Turks . They also introduced the flaky 'strudel' pastry (filo-phyllo) and the stuffing of vegetables.


At the same time, other parts of Hungary were ruled by the Austrian Habsburgs,  although from the research we've done, it is debatable as to whether Hungary had more influence on Austrian cuisine rather than the other way round. 



Current Day Hungarian Cuisine


Some may say that Hungarian cooking is heavy or stodgy and we've even come across warnings to people with "sensitive stomachs" to beware of some Hungarian dishes. However whilst many of them are rich, the distinctive flavour and character of Hungarian food should be sampled by all.


Today pan-fried goose liver is still a favorite as is Gulyas, a hearty beef and vegetable soup,  often mistakenly called Goulash by non-Hungarians. You can read all about the real Goulash (Pörkölt) in the Speciality Dish section.


Potatoes are a staple of the Hungarian diet and feature heavily in everyday cooking as does paprika, sour cream and eggs and with the continuing abundance of fresh local produce and the culinary meeting of East and West, Hungarian cooking is of a diverse and interesting nature.



 Click here for lots of Hungarian Recipes

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