How to make traditional tummy-filling gulyás


By Anna Gál

Hungarian dishes are rich, delicious, and always ready to fill your stomach. Despite the many ingredients that it uses, Hungarian gulyás (goulash) is one of the easiest and most savoury dishes that you can prepare.
Gulyás is not that different from several other Hungarian soups, like babgulyás (goulash with beans), becsinált, or palóc soup. They possess similar features, and have all been created for the same reason: to fill up poor, hard-working Hungarian bellies. Therefore, these dishes are usually high in fat, although they are also very rich in flavors and nutrition.

The origin of Gulyás traces back to the 9th century, when agriculture, working on the fields, and animal breeding was all managed by manpower. Shepherds and other hard-working people would only bring speck, onion, bread, tomato and paprika for lunch. Later, they began to cook this all together with beef, adding some water so its texture was closer to a stew than to a soup. This food covered for all the calories that were burned by the hard labour and was very tasty too. For quite a long time it was considered to be the food of peasants, but later became a part of the nobles’ menu.

The name Gulyás comes from the Hungarian word gulya, which means herd of cattle, and gulyás meaning the herdsman/shepherd.


The ingredients to serve six people are:

5-6 dkg pork fat

2-3 onions (cut into small pieces)

3-4 carrots

2-3 white carrots

4-5 tomatoes

3-4 paprikas

1kg beef meat (cut into cubes)

ground cumin

2-3 cloves of garlic

3-4 tbs ground paprika

1-1.5 kg potatoes


Ground black pepper

Traditional gulyás is made in a bogrács (which is a cauldron) but if you live in an apartment you can make it on your stove, of course. First, put the fat into the pot. When it melted you can add the onion, salt and the ground cumin. When the onion has softened enough you can add the ground paprika, but when you do remove it from the stove immediately as ground paprika can burn fast and develop a bitter taste. Stir and add the tomato, paprika and the star of the recipe: the beef. (The tomato and the paprika can be cut into 3 cm pieces.)

Stir it for 3 minutes off the stove, and when the beef whitens add about 600ml water, and cook for about 80 minutes. Later, if you want it to be more like a soup you can add more water.

After 80 minutes you can add the carrot and white carrot. Let it boil and add the potato, ground black pepper and the garlic. Cook it until the potato softens and you find the mixture thick enough. When it happens, I am happy to announce your gulyás is ready to eat!

Serve it in a little bogrács with bread if you have guests over.


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