A Hungary Appetite
Having been away from my blog for nearly a month now, I am back and raring to wax lyrical about my foodie adventures over the last couple of weeks!
I wish I could say I’ve had a well-earned break, but actually its been more full-on than ever as the last month has taken me to the continent and to Cornwall on two very different culinary trips – not to mention holding down business at home!
The beginning of the month saw a brilliant trip to the capital of Hungary, Budapest. Maybe having a false preconception of this eastern European country, I was more than pleasantly surprised at this beautiful city. Divided into two provinces of Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube, Budapest is set to a stunning backdrop of classic Austrian architecture steeped in a rich political history of invasion and occupancy.
Consequently, the landlocked country of Hungary, and its social and political heart, Budapest, has become a melting pot of eastern European cuisines, whilst interestingly prioritising their primary ethnic group, the Magyars’, authentic dishes.
With a vegetarian in-tow, it was clear Hungarian cuisine has long been concentrated around meat! Due to the nomadic lifestyle of Magyar people, livestock was an essential part of everyday life, and has become the bread and butter of many national dishes. From soups to stews every meal at leasts begins with goulash, roughly translating as ‘Herdsman’s meal’, and nine times out of ten containing meat.
The one thing that struck me the most however, was the city’s reliance on food markets. Every district was adorned with another grand-gated food market teeming with shoppers and local producers. With brimming baskets in hand, locals would glide past the entrance to the supermarket preferring to choose the local produce bursting from every stall – it was clear why!
Stalls overflowing with fruit, vegetables, meat, spices, beans, bread and pastries round every single corner. Hungarians reliance on these markets was obvious purely based on the sheer quantity of stall holders offering the same produce – I’ve never see so many greengrocers, bakers and butchers all in the same market! I was in foodie heaven!
But with only hand luggage to spare, my purchases only included a sour cherry strudel (which lasted all of 2 minutes) and a packet of traditional Hungarian sweet paprika! Now back home in Blighty, and in need of some warming up, I decided a Hungarian soup was to be my next recipe!
Combining both the traditional goulash (Gulyas leves – meat and vegetable soup or stew) and bab leves (bean soup) I arrived at my wholesome pinto bean goulash soup. Hearty, warming and fantastically Hungarian, this is all you need on a grey autumn evening!
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp sweet paprika
- 500g stewing steak, cubed
- Rapeseed oil
- Knob of butter
- 1 large onion, roughly diced
- 2 large carrots, roughly diced
- 1 red pepper, roughly diced
- 1 large garlic clove, finely diced
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 pints beef stock
- 2 bay leaf
- 1 can pinto beans
- Soured cream, to serve
- In a bowl, combine the flour, a pinch of salt and pepper and 2 tsp of paprika before coating the steak in the flour. Heat a dash of oil in a frying pan and brown off the meat in batches and set aside.
- In a large pan, heat melt the butter then add the onion and carrot. Cook for 4 – 5 to allow to soften before adding the pepper and garlic. Cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes then return the meat to the pan along with the remaining paprika and coriander. Stir well to allow the spices to coat the meat then add the tomato puree.
- Pour in the stock and add the bay leaves. Bring to the boil before turning down the heat. Gently simmer for 2 hours until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened. Add the beans for the last 15 minutes of cooking and add a little more water if the sauce has thickened too much.
- Serve with a swirl of soured cream and an extra sprinkling of paprika.