The Hungarian cuisine, just like their music and language, varies from those of other Western countries, but the contrast works in our advantage as most Indians including me miss our ‘spice’ while travelling in Europe.
Luckily for our palate, Hungary is a country that uses paprika in abundance and even serves a chilli dip on every table which is not only healthy but seems to be the newest cuisine to have caught the city’s attention.
Traditionally, it is a hearty cuisine, just like in the North of India; one factor could be the absorbing of Turkish and Asian traditions. Soup is absolutely essential. Main course is generous and meaty and there are enough options for the vegetarians as well, such as the stew, pasta — often cooked with cabbage, potatoes and curd. They also use a lot of cottage cheese in their dishes. The paprika ranges from mild to hot and just a wee bit of this adds a distinct flavour to any dish. Some of the desserts are also similar to ours. For example, their sweet dumplings are steamed but their shape and taste is very much like our gujiya.
In the city
A few years ago, Taj Palace had organised a Hungarian Food Festival with speciality chefs flown in from Gundel in Budapest (Hungarian restaurant); although much ahead of its time, the cuisine got an amazing response. Since then, one finds the Hungarian goulash on many a menus.
Eros by Hilton recently organised a food festival which focused on Hungarian food and music. Lodi - the Garden Restaurant offers dishes like the Chicken Paprikash and Dodos — a layered chocolate mousse and sponge cake dessert. “Having visited Budapest, I know the bent of this cuisine towards the Indian palate, so we have introduced some dishes on our menu at Spectra,” shares the Michel Koopman from Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon. “I love to use the Hungarian Paprika in some of my dishes and we also offer some Hungarian dishes on our Brunch menu,” shares chef Vaibhav Bhargav of Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli.