September 18, 2009

I’d categorise Lecho (Hungarian Lecsó, Slovak Lečo) as a typical lunchtime dish, but I’m sure people eat it for supper too! It’s especially popular when tomatoes and paprikas are in season: it’s a good way to use plenty of the crop in a nourishing meal.

Chop and fry two small onions and three or four paprikas. “Paprika” here doesn’t mean the hot, red variety, or the bell peppers also known as capsicums, but what Hungarians call zöldpaprika, “green pepper”. I’ve found them in greengrocers in London (I paid £1.60 for six last weekend) but they don’t seem to be available anywhere in the vidék (provinces). You’ll know them when you see them: they’re pointy and, er, yellow. (Warning: the pointy green peppers that are actually green are hot.) Zöldpaprika is a fantastic salad vegetable, also great in sandwiches, so I hope that one day they catch on over here!

Chop 3 frankfurters and 5-6 tomatoes, or 2-3 beef tomatoes, and add to the pot, along with two or three eggs and some salt, ground black pepper and paprika powder. (If you haven’t got any fresh tomatoes, use two tins.) Stir fry. As soon as the eggs and tomatoes are cooked, serve up hot to the table.

Fresh and filling.



September 3, 2009


Recipe for pumpkin or marrow soup…

Peel and chop up three potatoes, a carrot, an onion, a garlic clove, half a small celeriac, and a large yellow vegetable. Throw the lot into a pan and almost cover with water. Season with salt, pepper, paprika and a vegetable stock cube, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer until everything is soft. Puree (a hand blender is best) and add creme fraiche or single cream if you like.

Könnyü és finom

So there we were, Catherine and I, at Bánkút for the World Orienteering Championship Relays, and it was lunchtime so we thought we’d walk up the hill to get a bite to eat (and some welcome shade). I eschewed the vans selling kürtöskalács and főtt virsli and headed for the büfé at the Fehér Sas.

First, we waited patiently in the queue. Then the amiable guy behind the counter took our order (Catherine wanted the “Amerikai Hot Dog”) and I paid. Although I didn’t expect the hot dog to be handed over immediately, I did notice that the sudden absence of nénis in the kitchen wasn’t ideal. After a while the guy threw me a glance and muttered something about “5 perc”, but it was more like 15. And then…

When it was handed over, it looked very impressive, a sub filled with salad, but it didn’t take a genius to notice that the sausage (which looked like a typical English specimen) was hideg. Uncooked. Yum.

Chicken soup

June 26, 2009

Excellent things about Hungary, no.1. 🙂

This is really a winter dish, but it’s also a fine treat for anyone who’s ill or otherwise under the weather…

1. Ask the butcher to cut a small, fresh chicken into six or eight pieces. Wash the chicken and put it in a big pan or pot with three litres of water. Bring to the boil.

2. Peel two or three onions and five carrots; slice half a celeriac; cut three or four parsnips in half lengthways. Add the vegetables to the pot. Season with salt, peppercorns, half a teaspoon of paprika paste, a tiny amount of carraway and a bayleaf. Simmer for three hours, adding brussels sprouts for the last hour if you like them.

3. Boil some quick-cook pasta, e.g. vermicelli.

4. Pour the liquid from the soup through a sieve into a large pot or bowl.

5. Bring the soup (liquid part), soup (chicken & veg part) and pasta to the dinner table. Put whichever items you like into your soup bowl, and eat. (The onion, parsnip and celeriac were only in the pot for their flavour, but you are of course free to add them to your bowl as part of your soup.) Enjoy!