I’d like to say I had been familiar with the 28th of August being National Goulash Day, when Leanda posted about it in our Facebook group. I had not. But I guess you learn something new every day, so I have embraced the idea and thought we should put a recipe and pictures on the website.
But before I share my family recipe I can’t help but I must to tell you about the etymology of the word. Hungarians have been cooking this dish for centuries (perhaps even longer), since the time when we were horsepeople. The Hungarian word ‘gulyás’ means herdsman. Even today, when there is a family get-together, we cook this dish in a ‘bogrács’ on an open fire in the garden. I think this probably goes back to our ancestry, and it feels so nice to sit around the big pot knowing something delicious in being cooked. This dish is not the same if you try to cook it on the hob – the smoke certainly adds a good bit of flavour.
Interestingly, goulash is how this dish is known everywhere in the world. But in Hungary ‘gulyás’ is a soup: essentially the same dish, but with more water added. What we call goulash in English is ‘pörkölt’ in Hungarian.
So here comes my dad’s recipe – he does not add any tomato as he says it will make it a bit sour – I prefer to add at least a couple, when I cook this dish. You can add more tomato, or other vegetables, but this is the basic recipe for a very simple, no fuss dish. Dad calculates 1 kg meat for 3 people – I guess this just shows how much we eat…
0.3 kg red onion (chopped into very small pieces, so that they don’t burn when you start cooking them)
2 cloves of garlic,
salt, pepper to taste,
2 green paprika,
some caraway to taste,
and most importantly, a heaped spoon of grained red paprika.
He also adds what we call ‘Vegeta’ in Hungary – a type of mixed seasoning. Other friends of mine add ‘gulyáskrém’ (paste you can buy in a tube), but I’m trying to avoid additives in my food, so I skip these.
First, you make a stew base using some oil and the chopped onion. Every time I cook this dish and tell my dad about it his first question is: have you used enough onion? You haven’t burnt the onion, have you? And it’s true I guess: the more onion you use the more sauce you will have and also, you need to sweat the onions to a golden colour, not fry them on a high heat.
At this point, you can add the diced meat and fry it until the liquid evaporates. Now you can put the grained red paprika on it and stir it quickly. Make sure you don’t burn the paprika, otherwise the dish will have a bitter taste. Add some water, and then the salt, pepper, caraway and garlic. Add the chopped green peppers and whatever other vegetable you are using.
From here on, you just need to boil it – add some more water, depending on how thick a sauce you would like.
Traditionally, we eat this dish with ‘nokedli’ (Hungarian noodles) or potato, but rice, or any other side dish is fine, of course.
Jó étvágyat! (Enjoy your meal!)
PS: Please do let us know if you have cooked this and how it turned out! Thank you!