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When hunger strikes in the Hungarian capital

Filling mains and tempting desserts – 11 dishes to satisfy your appetite in Budapest

Scrumptious soup packed with vegetables and melt-in-your mouth beef

Scrumptious soup packed with vegetables and melt-in-your mouth beef

Gulyásleves

Onions, tomato and green pepper combine with tender, juicy beef to make this hearty paprika soup with a subtle hint of spice. More than enough for a main meal – it’s sometimes made with potatoes or noodles and accompanied by a chunk of fresh bread to soak up every last drop. Hot sauce is also supplied for those who like to kick the heat up a notch.

Local tip: Cooking competitions are often held at festivals and fairs. If you spot one, go along – you might be invited to sample the soup.

A deep, delicious bowl of spicy fisherman’s soup

A deep, delicious bowl of spicy fisherman’s soup

Halászlé

A fish broth, boiled over an open fire with a blend of green pepper, red onion, tomato and lots of spicy paprika, this blazing soup is red hot in both colour and taste. Thick pieces of mixed fresh-water fish – usually carp, catfish, sturgeon, pike or perch – roe and coral are added a few minutes before serving, with a chunk of bread and a glass of white wine on the side.

A spicy stewed vegetable medley that’s great with almost anything

A spicy stewed vegetable medley that’s great with almost anything

Lecsó

This hearty vegetable stew combines sweet and spicy peppers, onion, juicy tomato, garlic and plenty of paprika, for a versatile side dish with a fiery kick. Often spooned over tender roasted meat, it can also be scrambled with eggs at breakfast time, eaten with sausage or served up with a thick slice of fresh bread.

A vibrant chicken dish laced with paprika

A vibrant chicken dish laced with paprika

Paprikás csirke

Chicken is stewed in a slowly simmering sauce of sweet peppers and mild paprika, balanced with a cooling spoonful of sour cream. Lighter than many of Hungary’s other famous dishes, it’s served with a generous portion of dumpling-like noodles and fresh salad for an ideal summertime lunch option.

Local tip: Grab the chicken with your fingers to nibble the last of the juicy meat from the bones – locals won’t look twice.

Satisfying cabbage parcels, packed full with meaty flavour

Satisfying cabbage parcels, packed full with meaty flavour

Töltött káposzta

Pickled cabbage leaves give this dish a mouthwatering acidic tang. Stuffed full with savoury pork, rice, pearl barley and sauerkraut, each roll is covered in cool sour cream before being returned to the pan for a final frying to thicken the soft outer casing. The ultimate comfort food, these chunky cabbage rolls taste just as good the next day, eaten straight from the fridge with a fork.

A plateful of sweet, doughy delights

A plateful of sweet, doughy delights

Túrógombóc

The perfect example of dessert for dinner, these sweet cheese-curd dumplings are usually eaten as a main course. Doughnut-like in texture, they’re rolled in toasted breadcrumbs and dusted with sweet powdered sugar before being served with a cool dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche.

An indulgent street-food flatbread

An indulgent street-food flatbread

Lángos

A deeply satisfying treat that bypasses the stomach and goes straight to the soul. This deep-fried flatbread is drenched in mouthwatering garlic butter, smothered with sour cream – and just when you think it can’t get any better – covered in a thick layer of gooey melted cheese. Wondrous in variety – you’ll also find these plain, or stuffed with ingredients ranging from sausage to spicy peppers.

Local tip: You're most likely to find these at markets or sold by the many street vendors you'll see all around the city.

A layered sponge with a secretive past

A layered sponge with a secretive past

Dobos torta

Topped with thick shards of caramel glaze, this delicious layer cake stays wonderfully moist. First invented in 1885, five layers of light, fluffy sponge, are sandwiched with a rich chocolate buttercream that was practically unheard of at the time. Causing a sensation throughout Europe, its recipe was a closely guarded secret until its creator’s retirement in 1906.

Moreish, meat-stuffed pancakes

Moreish, meat-stuffed pancakes

Hortobágyi palacsinta

Chunky parcels folded up burrito-style, these thick savoury pancakes are filled with ground veal, chicken, or pork, lightly spiced and stewed with peppers and onions. Soaked in a rich paprika and sour cream sauce, they’re baked and dished-up two or three at a time for a satisfying starter.

A sweet trifle and national treasure

A sweet trifle and national treasure

Somlói galuska

Three layers of sponge cake – one plain, one chocolate and one walnut – are piled on top of each other, sandwiched with sweet vanilla pastry cream and drenched in a rich rum and citrus syrup. Scooped out in balls and scattered with juicy rum-soaked raisins, this tasty trifle is topped with a generous swirl of whipped cream and lashings of chocolate sauce.

Local tip: This delicious dessert was recently voted ‘Hungary’s Favourite Dessert’ – there’s no higher recommendation than that.

A lightly spiced cheese paste for dunking, dipping and spreading

A lightly spiced cheese paste for dunking, dipping and spreading

Körözött

This delicious dip is ideal for snacking, served up with fresh pepper or spread on a chunky slice of bread. ‘Túró’, a soft and strong-flavoured cheese, is mixed with creamy butter, cool sour cream, anise-like caraway seeds and red onion, while a dash of paprika adds a spark of heat. Other ingredients, such as mustard and garlic, are also often included for punchy flavour combinations.

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