If you think of Hungarian food, you probably think of paprika and goulash—but there's much more to it than that! Hungarian cuisine is typically hearty, and they love their soups. It's the perfect cuisine for a cold winter's night, but there are some lighter dishes that will sit well in the summer months too. There are plenty of excellent restaurants in Budapest and around the country, and by the end of your trip, you should aspire to having a good handle on Hungarian cuisine. Here are five dishes to keep an eye out for:
Nearly everyone has heard of goulash, so of course it's something you need to try when you visit Hungary. You'll actually find two somewhat similar dishes in Hungary that are both often translated to goulash: gulyás and pörkölt. The former is more of a soup and is served in a bowl, while the latter is more of a stew that is often served on a plate with noodles or other sides. Both are heavy on the paprika, though, and have similar ingredients and flavors—and both will vary from restaurant to restaurant, so make sure you try them in a couple different places!
2. Chicken Paprikash
Another well-known Hungarian dish, chicken paprikash (or csirkepaprikás) is a favorite amongst both tourists and locals. It's made up of chicken covered in a sauce of paprika and sour cream, and you'll often find it served alongside rustic, homemade noodles. As with goulash, you'll find that recipes vary drastically—some places make their paprikash spicier, while others opt for more cream. Wherever you have it, though, you're sure to find it delicious!
3. Túrós Csusza (pronounced toorosh choosa)
Speaking of homemade noodles, make sure you try out this delectable pasta dish. The noodles are made with a mixture of eggs and flour and are usually not evenly cut, adding to their rural charm—you can find the dish at plenty of restaurants even in the cities though! Usually you'll find them mixed with butter, cheese curds, cottage cheese, sour cream, or salt; modern takes on the dish will often include bacon or some other kind of meat as well. For a sweeter version of Hungarian cottage cheese, check out the túró rudi: cottage cheese covered in chocolate. It might sound strange, but it's actually quite delicious, and you can find it at both restaurants and mass-produced in supermarkets.
Those of you with health conditions, beware: this Hungarian dish is a heart attack waiting to happen, but it's oh-so delicious. It's a dish made of deep-fried dough that is normally topped with sour cream and cheese—although modern takes on the dish could include garlic, vegetables, or really anything else. It's one of those dishes that you'll probably want to share with a friend and deny you've ever had, but hey, you're on vacation, right? For a healthier alternative, you can usually find oven-baked lángos, which is kind of like pizza.
5. Dobos Torta
Bet you didn't know Hungary was famous for cake, did you? Dobos torta is a cake first created in the late 19th century. It's a layered spongecake, with thin layers of cake and chocolate buttercream. The whole thing is coated in caramel, which originally served to keep the cake from drying out. Sometimes, you'll find it covered with nuts as well. It's one of Hungary's signature deserts, and as such, you can find it all over Hungary. Whether for desert or breakfast (ahem), it goes excellent with coffee.
Although paprika and goulash are staples of Hungarian cuisine, there's much more for you and your tastebuds to explore during your time in Budapest or around the country! Follow your nose or the crowds to seek out the best restaurants, and try everything once—you'll be surprised at some of the delights you'll find. With such a rich culinary history, you're guaranteed to find something amazing that you totally don't expect.