Budapest, the capital city of Hungary is a gastronomical delight. During my two days in the plush city of dramatic buildings and enchanting views of Parliament across the Danube river, I could not help but devour the traditional local Hungarian dishes. Weeks later, I still crave for some of the Budapest delights like Goulash.
While many countries like Singapore, UAE have banned the usage of poppy seeds, it was quite a revelation when most of the Hungarian dishes were infused with poppy seeds. Breads, Savories and Sweets were filled with luscious poppy seed fillings. To prevent drug abuse, the UN allows only 9 countries in the world to grow and process poppy under strict regulated quota. Hungary is one of them. Apart from being opiated with the infuse of poppy seeds in the food, a predilection for paprika is another sign of Hungarian Blood.
Hungarians were introduced to Paprika (chili pepper) as a spice by Turks. Soon Hungarians began to use paprika for medicinal values and cooking. During World War I, the use of paprika significantly increased as it became a substitute for pepper in many countries.
Here are some of the delicious cuisines to try during your stay in Budapest:-
Kürtőskalács (Chimney Cake)
The first known recipe of Kürtőskalács originated from Transylvania and is included in the 1784 cookbook of Countess Maria Mikes of Zabola. With the perfect crisp on the exterior and fluffy soft on the interior, the chimney cakes are coated with sugar and cinnamon before baking to achieve the caramelized sugar glaze. Today there are various other toppings like nuts, coconut, cocoa but my preference remains the simple cinnamon flavored cake. The steaming hot cakes gets its name as it resembles the shape of the chimney.
One of the recommended places to try them are Street Cakes.
Ruszwurm Confectionary is a family run cafe. As they enter, visitors are greeted by a 200 year old cherry wood counter. The shop is located between Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle. Try the rich classic Hungarian pastry that melts in the mouth!
The multi layered sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel was first introduced in Budapest in 1885. It was tasted by King Franz Joseph I and Queen Elisabeth.
I always thought I never would be able to enjoy and love Gelato outside Italy. But Gelarto Rosa’s rose shaped raspberry flavor just stole my heart.
Lángos is a deep fried dough served with many toppings. However, the traditional way of having Lángos is with sour cream and cheese. Head to Retró Lángos Büfé to try the iconic Hungarian handheld dish.
Hungarian Goulash (Gulyás)
Goulash began as a humble soup stew cooked by peasants on open fire. At some point, they started adding grounded paprika to this savory dish. Hungarian goulash is actually written as gulyás which translates to shepherds and herdsmen. Today the national dish of Hungary is often served as the main course apart from soup or stew.
Paprikás Csirke (Paprika Chicken)
Another dish with rich and full of Hungarian flavors is the Chicken Paprikash. Chicken is simmered for an hour in the creamy sauce and served with egg dumplings. The meat is tender and melts in your mouth. The dish is topped with freshly chopped parsley. The final presentation in a way symbolizes the Hungarian national flag with colors of red, white and green.
Both of these dishes can be enjoyed at Pest Buda Bistro
The colorful and vibrant Jewish community is an integral part of today’s Budapest. Experience the flavors of Kosher Bakeries during your stay in Budapest. One of the must try dishes is their Flódni (thousand goods cake) as it contains so many good ingredients in one piece of cake. I tried these at Fröhlich Kóser Cukrászda.
The taste is different from the rest of the pastries. I could taste the poppy seeds filling, walnuts and apple all in one bite! The cafe is a short walk from the Dohany Synagogue.
Wine is a central part of Hungarian culture. Hungary’s famous wine Egri Bikaver is also known as Bull’s Blood. It was an absolute delight to indulge it with a dish of Chicken Paprikash. The name of the wine originates from an incident that happened in Eger – the region that produces this wine. During a Turkish siege, Hungarian soldiers under the command of Istvan Dobo were fed with local food and wine in Eger. Rumour spread that the dark red wine got its color by mixing it with the bull’s blood and that gave these soldiers enormous strength to fight against the enemies. Eger was temporarily saved from the siege.
Another premium sweet wine is the Tokaji Aszu and is often referred as the King of Wines. It was difficult for me to stop at one glass after tasting ! I am not a fan of white wines and sweet wines. The only sweet wines I personally like is Moscato and Passito. But this one is a winner!
With the lasting memories of the sweet wine, I bid farewell to Budapest yearning to visit again for more delightful culinary experiences.
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